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Slumping Phillies visit struggling Mets prior to MLB All-Star break

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Phillies visit Citi Field just prior to the 2019 All-Star break

It was just 10 days ago that the Philadelphia Phillies (45-42) season was on life support. Seven straight defeats and losses in nine of their previous 10 games had dropped the club to just a game over the .500 mark.

Turned out the temporary cure at that time was arriving at Citizens Bank Park in the form of the New York Mets, a club perhaps struggling even more than the Phillies.
Now here we are, a week and a half later, and the Phillies season appears to once again have relapsed. Since that visit to South Philly by the Mets, the Phillies have dropped two of three games to both the last-place Miami Marlins and first-place Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies are not only looking up at the Braves in the NL East standings, they are also now trailing behind the Washington Nationals by a game in the loss column. This marks the first time all season that the Phillies have fallen below second place in the division. In fact, they have now also slipped out of even an NL Wildcard playoff slot.
Could the Mets once again prove to be just what the Phillies need to feel a bit rejuvenated heading into next week’s four-day MLB All-Star Game break? As this weekend before that Mid-Summer Classic break begins, the Phillies will visit Flushing, Queens for three games at Citi Field.
The Mets slipped to fourth place in the division back on June 19 and have been stuck there ever since. They are coming off a split in their two-game Subway Series match-up with the New York Yankees and had the day off on Independence Day. Losers of eight of their last 10, the Mets have not won three games in a row since mid-May.

NEW YORK METS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Michael Conforto: 26-year-old right fielder slashing .247/.361/.477 with 16 homers, 32 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs, 47 runs.
Jeff McNeil: 27-year-old left fielder slashing .349/.411/.516 with 7 homers, 31 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs, 38 runs.
Amed Rosario: 23-year-old shortstop with 9 homers, 42 RBIs, 36 runs.
Todd Frazier: 33-year-old third baseman with 11 homers, 34 RBIs, 27 runs over just 236 plate appearances.
Wilson Ramos: 31-year-old catcher slashing .275/.348/.414 with 9 homers and 41 RBIs played with Phillies in late 2018.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Pete Alonso: 24-year-old rookie first baseman slashing .278/.372/.623 with 28 homers, 50 extra-base hits, 64 RBIs, 55 runs. The Tampa, Florida native was the Mets second round choice at 64th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Florida.
Phillies pitchers have proven to be among the few who have been able to keep Alonso under control. The 6’3″, 240 pounder has slashed just .229/.357/.286 with no home runs and two doubles in the 10 games (9 starts) in which he has played between the two teams this season.
In a recent poll of five MLB scouts, three chose Alonso as having a better long-term career outlook than Yankees young slugging phenom Aaron Judge. “Right now, I’d take Alonso,” one scout told Matthew Cerone of SNY. “Like most of the league’s power hitters, they both use the popular ferris wheel swing, inside out style, but Alonso tends to square up better and often faster.
The Phillies offense has to face three tough pitchers this weekend. Continuing to find a way to keep Alonso under control will prove a major challenge, but one that will be vital to picking up more wins against the struggling Mets.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Jacob deGrom (31/RH): 4-7, 3.32 ERA, 1.107 WHIP, 92 hits over 103 IP across 17 starts with a 128/22 K:BB. After winning the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, deGrom struggled a bit in the early going. But over his last eight starts, deGrom has allowed as many as three earned runs just once, and has a 2.65 ERA and .235 batting average against. This will be his first start of the year against the Phillies.
SATURDAY – Noah Syndergaard (26/RH): 5-4, 4.56 ERA, 1.242 WHIP, 98 hits over 100.2 IP across 16 starts with a 98/27 K:BB. After spending two weeks on the IL in late June, “Thor” returned to the Mets rotation last week. Just seven of his 16 outings have resulted in Quality Start efforts. The Phillies got to him for five earned runs on nine hits back on April 15 at Citizens Bank Park.
SUNDAY – Zack Wheeler (29/RH): 6-5, 4.42 ERA, 1.246 WHIP, 110 hits over 114 IP across 18 starts with a 123/32 K:BB. Wheeler, set to become a free agent after this season, has been the subject of trade speculation for over a year now. If the Mets don’t spurt back into the race in the next couple of weeks, he is likely to be dealt. He is making the price go up of late, as over his last three starts the righty has allowed just 12 hits and four earned runs over 19.1 IP with a 20/4 K:BB. Wheeler has already made three starts against the Phillies on April 17 and 23, and June 27. The Mets lost the first and last, but on April 23 he tossed a gem, striking out 11 over seven shutout frames.

THE SKIPPER

Mickey Callaway: There was intense speculation that Callaway could be canned after the Phillies swept his club at the start of last week. But the second-year skipper has survived to this point.
The 44-year-old native of Memphis, Tennessee has a 116-133 record at the helm of the Mets. He was recently involved in a high-profile altercation with a member of the New York media and has come under much negative scrutiny in the press over the last two weeks.
Just a week ago, Callaway even seemed to throw in the towel on his team’s 2019 chances. His club sat 6.5 out of a Wildcard berth with seven teams standing between them and the second NL Wildcard slot at the time. “We’re in a tough spot. It’s gonna take a miracle,” The Mets manager told WFAN’s Mike Francesa. ‘I’ve seen miracles before … We’re down in the win-loss column. That’s the bottom line.

THE BALLPARK

Citi Field is located in the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park area of New York City in the borough of Queens. It was built adjacent to the former Shea Stadium, which had been home to the Mets since 1964, and opened to replace that old ballpark for the 2009 season.
There is a normal seating capacity of 41,922 and can fit up to 45,000 when taking standing room into account. The dimensions are 335 and 330 down the left and right field lines. Left-center is a close 358 feet, it is then 385 to deep-left center and 408 to straightaway center field. The deep-right center field fence is 398 feet away, and right-center is at 375 feet.
As homage to a tradition from Shea Stadium, the Home Run Apple, a giant apple which has a Mets logo on the front that lights up, rises from its housing in the center field batter’s eye whenever a Mets player hits a home run.
There is a Mets Hall of Fame & Museum located adjacent to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at the front entrance to the ball park on the first base side. The museum includes plaques honoring inductees to the team’s Hall of Fame, replicas of the two World Series trophies won by the organziation, and other memorabilia.
An extreme pitcher’s park in it’s first few years, changes to the fences for the 2012 season were made to allow the park to play much more fairly. However, Citi Field still ranks just 22nd in all of Major League Baseball in the ESPN Park Factor rankings for runs scored.

Yankees find life as C.C. Sabathia turns back the clock

Sabathia gem helps cut Yankees ALCS deficit in half

The New York Yankees were in desperate shape entering Game Three of the 2017 American League Championship Series.

The Yanks trailed the Houston Astros by two games to none in the best-of-seven series. A loss back home in the Bronx would put them in an almost impossible 3-0 hole.

Manager Joe Girardi handed the ball to 37-year old, 17-year veteran C.C. Sabathia for the pivotal starting assignment on the mound.

Sabathia delivered, and then some. He would shut out the tough Houston lineup for six innings over which he threw 99 pitches. The big lefty surrendered just three hits, walked four, and struck out five batters in what he described as a “smoke and mirrors” performance per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.

Despite his age, there is no one his team would have wanted more in that position. Per Hoch, Sabathia is now 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts following a Yankees loss during the 2017 regular season and postseason.

“Obviously you want to go out and have a good performance in the playoffs and give us a chance to get back in the series. Hopefully we did that tonight. We can come out tomorrow, swing the bats and score some more runs.” ~ Sabathia, per Hoch

Swing the bats they did last night as well. The Bronx Bombers came out bombing early and often against Houston starter Charlie Morton. The veteran right-hander yielded seven earned runs on six hits and two walks over just 3.2 innings of work.

Todd Frazier got it started in the bottom of the second inning. The former Little League World Series hero reached out and poked a three-run homer just over the right field wall. That blast got the offense rolling in what would become an eventual 8-1 Yankees victory.

For all of the offensive fireworks that followed, including yet another prodigious home run from mammoth rookie Aaron Judge, it was the work of Sabathia in keeping Houston’s own potent offense in check that would make the biggest difference.

With the left-hander taking the hill against his club, Houston skipper A.J. Hinch loaded his lineup with right-handed hitters. Hinch had Evan Gattis and Cameron Maybin take the places of Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. He also moved shortstop Alex Bregman up into the two-hole in the batting order.

None of it mattered in the end. Maybin delivered a hit, but it was one of only four that the Houston order would generate on the night against Sabathia and a trio of Yankees relievers.

He comes up big for us when we need him,’’ said outfielder Brett Gardner per Mark Herrmann for Newsday. “He’s a big-game pitcher. He might not have the velocity that he used to have, but he’s a better pitcher and has better command than he’s had. He knows what he’s doing out there. We’re lucky to have him on our side.”

SABATHIA’S BIG LEAGUE HISTORY

Sabathia was the first round pick of the Cleveland Indians all the way back in the 1998 MLB Draft at 20th overall. Just three years later he was in Cleveland, winning 17 games as a 20-year old and finishing as the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up to a legend named Ichiro Suzuki.

In parts of eight seasons with the Tribe, Sabathia amassed a 106-71 record. He was the 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner, as well as a three-time AL All-Star.


With Sabathia headed for free agency, the Indians dealt him to the Milwaukee Brewers at the 2008 trade deadline. He went 11-2 for the Brew Crew, helping them to the playoffs, and then entered free agency.


Entering his age 28 season, an ace-caliber starting pitcher, Sabathia was one of the most coveted free agents on the market. He received a huge nine-year, $202 million dollar contract from the Yankees. That deal expires following this season.




With the Yankees, Sabathia has added on another 120 victories to his personal career win column. He also has three more AL All-Star Game nods, has finished in the top four of the AL Cy Young voting three times, and helped lead New York to their last World Series championship in 2009.

GEM CUTS YANKS DEFICIT IN HALF


We wanted him on the mound tonight,” Girardi said per Peter Botte of the New York Daily News. “We thought we had the right guy on the mound. Six innings, just an outstanding effort. Couldn’t ask for anything more.

Adam Warren followed Sabathia, tossing a pair of shutout innings. The only Houston offense was generated off Dellin Betances in the top of the 9th inning, but Tommy Kahnle came in to shut the Astros down and close out the victory.

The turn-back-the-clock Sabathia win cuts the Yankees deficit to 2-1 now, with the next two games slated for Tuesday and Wednesday. Those will once again take place in the postseason hotbed of Yankee Stadium.

On Tuesday for a late afternoon 5pm EDT start, Girardi will send Sonny Gray to the mound. Hinch will go with Lance McCullers in Game Four. Both managers will be hoping for a performance as clutch as the one delivered by Sabathia on Monday night.

ALCS: Houston Astros vs New York Yankees preview and prediction

Judge (top), Altuve lead teams into ALCS

The Houston Astros are right where most baseball pundits thought they would be when the 2017 MLB postseason began. The club will begin play in the American League Championship Series beginning on Friday night.

The Astros finished 101-61, the second best record in the American League. The surprise is that they will be opening this ALCS at home in Minute Maid Park.

The vast majority of those pundits, myself included, believed that Houston would be traveling to Cleveland to face the Indians, who won 102 games, the best record in the American League.

However, the Tribe were stunned in the ALDS by the New York Yankees. That was after favored Cleveland had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the series.

Game Three was a nail-biting 1-0 affair. With a chance to sweep, the Indians had two runners on and two out in the 9th inning. But Carlos Santana’s drive to deep left-center field was hauled in by Aaron Hicks, and the Yanks stayed alive.

New York then tied the series up behind a gem from young ace Luis Severino, and finished the comeback with Brett Gardner’s huge two-out, two-run single in the top of the 9th inning of Game Five.

So it will be the Astros hosting those Yankees for the first two games. For Houston, this will mark the franchise first ALCS appearance. The club moved from the NL Central to the AL West for the 2013 season.

As members of the National League, the Astros won a half-dozen division crowns, making four appearances in the NLCS. They won just a single National League pennant in that time, going on to suffer a sweep at the hands of the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 World Series.

The Yankees went 91-71 to capture the top AL Wildcard playoff berth this season. They spotted the Minnesota Twins a 3-run first inning, and came roaring back to win that AL Wildcard Game by an 8-4 score. That led to the drama against Cleveland.

Houston captured their ALDS by 3-1 over the Boston Red Sox. The Astros scored three times over the final two innings, then held on at Fenway Park for a tough 5-4 victory in Game Four to seal the deal.

Both managers, Houston’s A.J. Hinch and the Yankees Joe Girardi, were big league backup journeyman catchers.

Hinch played seven seasons from 1998-2004 with seven different teams. He was with Oakland from 1998-2000, but did not appear in the 2000 ALDS in which the A’s were edged out 3-2 by the Yankees.

Girardi spent 15 MLB seasons spread across four organizations, with five of those coming as what would be considered the starting catcher. He won two World Series, with the Yankees in 1998 and 1999.

As a manager, Girardi guided New York to a victory in the 2009 World Series. The club has won three AL East crowns under his watch, but none since 2012. His Yankees teams have now come in second place in three of the last four seasons.

This is Hinch’s third year at the helm in Houston. He skippered the Arizona Diamondbacks for parts of two earlier seasons. This was the club’s first division crown in the American League, and so obviously the first under Hinch.

The Houston lineup is led by AL MVP candidate Jose Altuve.  The diminutive second baseman went 8-11 with five runs scored over the first three games of the ALDS, including a three-homer performance in the opener. He hit for a .346/.410/.547 slash in the regular season, with 24 homers and a team-high 32 steals.

The left-side infield combo of shortstop Carlos Correa and third baseman Alex Bregman is one of the youngest and most talented in all of baseball. Center fielder George Springer led Houston with 34 home runs and tied Altuve for the team lead with 112 runs scored.

In addition to their young talent, the Astros have a bevy of savvy veterans, many of whom bring playoff experience. The group includes Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Evan Gattis, Cameron Maybe, Yuli Gurriel, and Josh Reddick.

The Yankees also have a group of talented youngsters, including the lead AL Rookie of the Year contender in right fielder Aaron Judge. His prodigious power produced 52 home runs this year. Judge also led the team with 128 runs scored and 114 RBI.

Catcher Gary Sanchez slammed 33 homers during the season. He and slugging young first baseman Greg Bird each slammed a pair of ALDS home runs. The middle infield of second baseman Starlin Castro and shortstop Didi Gregorius is strong defensively, and both can hit, including with power.

There is plenty of veteran support in the Yankees lineup and dugout as well. Gardner, Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Holliday, Chase Headley, and Todd Frazier providing that experience and leadership.

Both Girardi and Hinch have chosen to go with an extra pitcher on their ALCS rosters, carrying a dozen arms apiece. This is a clear nod to the possibility of needing to utilize the “bullpenning” trend that has taken Major League Baseball by storm in the postseason.

Girardi is giving the ball to Masahiro Tanaka to take the mound for the opener, with Hinch opting for lefty Dallas Keuchel.

The 28-year old Tanaka won 13 games during the regular season. It was his brilliant Game Three outing that started the Yankees ALDS comeback. He shut the Indians out on three hits over seven innings in that start, striking out seven and allowing just one walk.

Keuchel was the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner. The 29-year old won 14 games this season despite missing most of June and July to injury. Seven of his last nine regular season outings were of the Quality Start variety. He then won Game Two of the ALDS vs Boston with 5.2 strong innings.

Two years ago, it was Tanaka vs Keuchel when these same two clubs met in the AL Wildcard Game. In that one, Keuchel got the better with a brilliant outing, shutting the Yankees out on three hits over six innings in which he struck out seven. The Astros won 3-0 to advance.

Game Two will feature a pair of aces at opposite ends of the age and experience poles. The 23-year old Severino will go for New York. He will face 34-year old veteran trade deadline acquisition Justin Verlander for Houston.

Back in the Bronx for Game Three, the managers have announced a battle of veterans. 33-year old right-hander Charlie Morton is scheduled to go for Houston against 37-year old lefty C.C. Sabathia for the Yanks.

Girardi has already announced that Sonny Gray will be his Game Four starter. Hinch has not tipped his hand as yet for that game, which won’t take place until next Tuesday. That start likely will go to one from among a trio of righties: Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers, or Brad Peacock, depending on their usage out of the bullpen.

The Yankee skipper wouldn’t mind at all if this turned into a battle of the bullpens. He can call on one of the game’s best and deepest with right-handers Dellin Batances, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Warren, Jordan Montgomery, and David Robertson. From the left-side he can bring Jaime Garcia and his fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman.

Hinch will try to mix-and-match with right-handers Chris Devenski, Will Harris, Luke Gregerson, Joe Musgrave, and closer Ken Giles. He could also call on any of those potential Game Four starters listed previously. From the left side it’s only Francisco Liriano available, though Keuchel could conceivably see action later in the series.

These two ball clubs met seven times during the regular season. Houston captured five of the seven. The Astros won three of four at Yankee Stadium mid-May, then two of three in Houston as June turned to July.

Each of the Yankees wins this year over the Astros came when the Bronx Bombers opened up offensively. They scored 11 and 13 runs respectively in those two victories. New York scored just 13 runs in the five Houston victories.

I underestimated the Yankees against the Indians. I am not doing the same thing again – but I am once again picking against them. I am calling it Astros in six games. This should be an exciting series, one that I believe Houston will find enough in to advance to only the second World Series appearance in franchise history.

MLB awards: my 2017 IBWAA ballot

IBWAA members submitted 2017 MLB Awards ballots

With the four Major League Baseball Division Series each heading towards their climactic moments, this marks a good time to take a quick look back at the regular season.

As a lifetime member of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America), the end of each MLB regular season means that my awards ballot is due.

The IBWAA asks each of its members to vote on five categories in both the National and American Leagues. Those five are the MVP and Cy Young, as well as each league’s top reliever, rookie, and manager.

As with the vast majority of voters in the IBWAA, my own selections were certainly based on performance. However, also as with every other voter, subjectivity comes in to play.

There are almost always multiple individuals deserving of awards consideration. That was most definitely the case this season. I found this past 2017 MLB season to be one of the toughest ever for which to fill out an awards ballot.

For the MVP Award, I always consider that middle word carefully: valuable. In addition to tremendous statistical seasons, I want my Most “Valuable” Player to have provided his team invaluable performances defensively and at clutch moments, as well as providing leadership.

For me, when two players each have great statistical seasons, but one of those players is with a winning/contending club, the contender is going to finish ahead on my ballot most times.

Hit 50 home runs, or win 25 games on the mound, for a 4th place team that finishes a dozen or more games out of the playoffs? To me, your losing team could have done that without your “valuable” performance.

I don’t ignore great statistical performances from players on losing ball clubs. You’re just not going to get my first place MVP vote in the vast majority of seasons.

The IBWAA asks each voter to rank their top ten finishers in each MVP race, the top five finishers for the Cy Young Award, and the top three in each of the other categories.

The IBWAA will announce the winners in November. Follow the IBWAA Twitter feed for awards results, as well as regularly for great baseball writing by our members.

With all that said, here is the ballot that I submitted for the 2017 MLB Awards.

————————————————————————————–

National League Most Valuable Player

  1. Anthony Rendon
  2. Charlie Blackmon
  3. Paul Goldschmidt
  4. Giancarlo Stanton
  5. Cody Bellinger
  6. Nolan Arenado
  7. Joey Votto
  8. Kris Bryant
  9. Bryce Harper
  10. Corey Seager
American League Most Valuable Player
  1. Francisco Lindor
  2. Jose Altuve
  3. Jose Ramirez
  4. Aaron Judge
  5. Mookie Betts
  6. Mike Trout
  7. George Springer
  8. Byron Buxton
  9. Josh Donaldson
  10. Eric Hosmer
National League Cy Young Award
  1. Max Scherzer
  2. Stephen Strasburg
  3. Zack Greinke
  4. Clayton Kershaw
  5. Jimmy Nelson
American League Cy Young Award
  1. Chris Sale
  2. Corey Kluber
  3. Luis Severino
  4. Carlos Carrasco
  5. Chris Archer
National League Rookie of the Year
  1. Cody Bellinger
  2. Rhys Hoskins
  3. Luis Castillo
American League Rookie of the Year
  1. Aaron Judge
  2. Andrew Benintendi
  3. Matt Olson
National League Top Reliever
  1. Kenley Jansen
  2. Corey Knebel
  3. Wade Davis
American League Top Reliever
  1. Craig Kimbrel
  2. Cody Allen
  3. Alex Colome
NL Manager of the Year
  1. Torey Lovullo
  2. Dusty Baker
  3. Dave Roberts
AL Manager of the Year
  1. Paul Molitor
  2. Terry Francona
  3. A.J. Hinch

ALDS Prediction: Cleveland Indians over New York Yankees

Progressive Field in Cleveland hosts first two ALDS games

No disrespect meant to the most decorated organization in the history of Major League Baseball, but I think they are in over their heads in their ALDS matchup with the Cleveland Indians.

Let’s begin the preview with who the Yankees are coming into the series. Joe Girardi’s squad took control of the top AL Wildcard spot in September, and even made a run at the Boston Red Sox for the AL East Division crown before falling two games short.

That pushed the Yanks into the AL Wildcard Game. In that contest, held on Tuesday night, the Yankees spotted the Minnesota Twins a 3-0 first inning lead. The Bronx Bombers then bombed away, out-scoring the Twins 8-1 the rest of the way.

The Yankees (91-71) big hitters did the damage in that one-game playoff. Aaron Judge went 2-4 with a monster home run (what else is new), and scored three runs. Gary Sanchez and Brett Gardner each had two hits, with Gardner and Didi Gregorius each blasting a home run.

Those three are going to have to contribute heavily if the Yankees are to have any hope of overcoming the defending AL champion Indians. The Tribe won five of the seven meetings between the two teams this season, and I just don’t see it happening in a playoff series.

Girardi is scheduled to send big trade acquisition Sonny Gray to the mound in the opener. He’ll be followed by veteran lefty C.C. Sabathia in Game Two. Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka gets the nod for Game Three on Saturday back at Yankee Stadium.

For the Indians (102-60) and manager Terry Francona, it was a surprise to many to see righty Trevor Bauer get the call for the opener. But Francona and the Tribe have a great deal of trust in Bauer, who started Game One of the ALDS a year ago vs Boston, and who also made two starts in the World Series vs the Chicago Cubs.

He will be followed by ace Corey Kluber in Game Two, and then veteran Carlos Carrasco on Saturday. Bauer and the Tribe pen pitching their way to a first-game victory would be huge, with AL Cy Young contender Kluber going on Friday.

Part of the reason that Francona doesn’t fear sending Bauer out in the opener is confidence in his relief corps. Perhaps no manager in this year’s MLB postseason is more experienced in the “bullpenning” concept.

Francona will turn to righties Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith, Danny Salazar, and Mike Clevinger. From the left side it would be Danny Olson and the multi-inning weapon Andrew Miller. The regular closer is right-hander Cody Allen.

Girardi has no problem going to a bullpen game either, as he demonstrated in the Wildcard Game. When starter Luis Severino was knocked out by the Twins in the first inning, the Yankees skipper paraded out a quartet of relievers. Over the ensuing 8.2 innings they combined to allow just one run on five hits, and the offense rallied to victory.

That New York relief group includes righties David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Chad Green, all of whom went in the Wildcard Game. Right-handers Dellin Betances, Jordan Montgomery, and Adam Warren are also available. From the left side the options are Jaime Garcia and closer Aroldis Chapman.

The Indians lineup features a pair of American League MVP candidates in shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Jose Ramirez.

Talented veteran second baseman Jason Kipnis missed big chunks of the season, playing in just 90 games. But he returned to the lineup in mid-September and hit .321/.394/.536 over his final nine games. He may be set for a big October.

Another huge addition to the Indians lineup since last year has been Edwin Encarnacion. The veteran DH signed away from the Toronto Blue Jays infused Francona’s lineup with 38 homers and 107 RBI, and he has a knack for coming through in the big moments.

The Indians postseason experience a year ago, their variety of offensive threats, and the depth of their pitching staff all add up to a series victory for me. The Yankees have enjoyed a strong season, but they are a little short on talent against this opponent, and I’m calling it a 3-0 sweep.