The Yankees are busy preparing their roster for the playoffs, but who do Aaron Boone and company want to face when October arrives?
Aaron Boone’s team is cruising towards a pretty comfortable AL East title at the moment, but that’s not the goal for the Yankees. It’s World Series title or bust for New York. Everyone in the organization is focused on earning success in the postseason.
Undoubtedly Boone would tell you that all of his attention is focused on getting his roster primed and ready for October, but it’s fair to assume that some people in the organization are casting some interested glances towards potential opponents. The Rays, Indians, Athletics and Twins are the four most likely opponents. This piece details which teams the Yankees want to play and which clubs they’d prefer to avoid.
1. Cleveland Indians
If the postseason started today, the Tribe would narrowly miss out on the second Wild Card spot. That doesn’t mean they won’t make it to October. They certainly have the talent to overtake Tampa Bay or Oakland.
They are still the team that New York would prefer to see advance to play them in October. Very simply, they arguably have the weakest lineup of any potential Yankees opponent. Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana have pounded the baseball for Cleveland this season, but they haven’t gotten enough help from their supporting cast. For a Yankees team that will enter the postseason with a shaky starting rotation, the weak links in the Cleveland lineup are very appealing.
2. Minnesota Twins
The Twins are built very similarly to the Yankees. Their lineup is chocked full of guys who can hit the ball out of the park. New York’s pitching staff might have a tough time going through the Twins order multiple times per game.
However, the recent struggles of Jose Berrios leave Minnesota without a legitimate ace to lean on in a postseason series. Their next best starter, Jake Odorizzi, will enter the playoffs with an ERA of 3.60. He’s a solid No. 2 starter, but he’s not the sort of guy who will scary the Yankees on the mound. Boone and company would like their chances against the Twins pitching staff.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
The Yankees certainly know a lot about the Rays due to their battles inside the AL East. They wouldn’t be an easy out for New York, but injury questions in their starting rotation could take away their biggest strength heading into the postseason.
Blake Snell and Yonny Chirinos are both currently on the Injured List. The Rays hope both will be ready when the postseason begins, but there are no guarantees. Tampa can rely on Charlie Morton to give them a quality start, but he can’t carry the rotation all by himself.
The Rays’ order also lacks a real superstar that can strike fear in the heart of the Yankees. Austin Meadows has enjoyed a career year, but he’s untested when it comes to playoff success. New York doesn’t necessarily want to see Tampa Bay, but they won’t be afraid to take them on either.
4. Oakland Athletics
The Athletics have been one of the hottest teams in the American League as of late. They project to enter the postseason with a ton of momentum. That’s why the Yankees would prefer to avoid the AL West club.
The power of this team lies in their deep, powerful batting order. Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman have both mashed the ball all year long. Matt Olson and Roman Laureano also add underrated power to Oakland’s lineup. The A’s hitters could feast on Yankee pitching if Boone can’t get his best hurlers ready to go.
The only weakness in the A’s armor is their starting pitching. Frankie Montas has been terrific lately, but he might not be up to the task of pitching like a postseason ace. Even so, there are enough live arms on this staff to give the Yankees significant problems.
New York would like their chances against any team they can potentially face when the Playoffs start, but avoiding Oakland would allow fans in the Bronx to breathe a little easier.