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Yankees at Indians AL Division Series Predictions
These are two classic franchises and this playoff meeting may signify the renewal of their classic mid-90's rivalry. The first pitch is set for 7:38 EST at Progressive Field in Cleveland, where the Indians posted a 49-32 record during the regular season.
The Tribe made headlines this year posting a stellar overall record of 102-60, including a remarkable 22-game winning streak over the final two months of the season.
New York (+129) @ Cleveland (-139) O/U 8.5
For their part, the Yankees are riding high after winning a Wild Card matchup Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins. Featuring a dominant bullpen and youthful enthusiasm led by rookie slugger Aaron Judge (.284/52 HR/114 RBI), the Bronx Bombers look like a team capable of a deep run.
The Cleveland Indians might be the only team in baseball with a bullpen as strong as the Yankees, and the Tribe also feature an offense much-improved from their World Series runner-up squad a year ago. Ace Corey Kluber is hitting on all cylinders once again posting a microscopic 0.84 ERA in his five September starts.
Interestingly, Indians manager Terry Francona will opt not to start Kluber until Game 2 in order to preserve him for a possible Game 5. From here, this move is puzzling at best, and stupid at worst. Facing a team with the quality and depth of the Yankees bullpen means runs will be at a premium in this series. The ALDS is also a short series, meaning that the momentum of winning Game 1 is huge. Why needlessly roll the dice by starting Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19 ERA) in Game 1?
For those backing the Yankees in this series on the merit of their strong bullpen, let's not forget that a war of attrition has already begun. Playoff innings are universally regarded as "high stress" innings for a pitcher and the Yankees may start feeling the effects after being taxed considerably in their Wild Card win over Minnesota.
Against the Twins, Yankees starter Luis Severino recorded exactly one out, before being lifted in the first inning. This left the Yankees pen to do the yeoman's work for the remaining 26 outs. Closer Dellin Betances didn't throw in that game, but the Yanks used four hurlers after Severino's early departure and all worked more than one inning besides Aroldis Chapman.
Aaron Judge is just one man - and a rookie at that - but there's no mistaking that he'll play a huge role in this series one way or the other. Judge's two-run shot against Minnesota gave his team a three-run lead and helped the Yanks assume control.
He's a freakish talent that forces pitching staffs to plan for him accordingly.
Prediction: Take Under 8.5 in Game 1/New York +129
Unlike some of the more stodgy Yankees teams of yesteryear, these Yankees seem to be having a great deal of fun each night. The Yankees are a live dog in this series and should give the Indians all they want. In Game 1, I love the UNDER 8.5 total in what I think will be a low-scoring affair.
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