Point/Counterpoint: Will the Yankees or Red Sox make it farther in the 2021 MLB Playoffs?

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With under a month left in this 2021 MLB season, there are several fantastic storylines to cover before a team grabs the trophy. One of these storylines brings fans back to one of the most historic rivalries in the entire world of sports today: the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. As both teams prepare to battle until the final game of the season, a question arises: Which team will outlast the other in the MLB playoffs? Evan Rodriguez and Jonathan Synott aim to answer this question.

Evan: The New York Yankees are certainly a team of good and bad this year. After, at one point, being a team 10 games out of first place in the A.L. East, going on a 13 game winning streak, then losing seven out of their last nine games, the team is in an interesting predicament. Despite the rough patches this season, I think the good outweighs the bad for this team, and I certainly know that they are better than the Red Sox this season. While I see the Red Sox’s plethora of talent throughout the baseball diamond, I still don’t see them matching up with the Yankees this season. With American League Cy Young candidate Gerrit Cole, fan-favorite Aaron Judge and hits leader D.J. LeMahieu, it’s going to take a lot more than the Boston Red Sox to send this team packing back to the Bronx. 

Jon: When at their peak, the Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball. That’s why Vegas had them projected to be a top three team in the league back in March. But there’s a reason New York isn’t on that pedestal anymore: their 2021 performance. This is a season-long third place team that got hot for a month after the All Star Game. Let’s not have this mirage overshadow how the first half of the season went (and how the rest of the season is trending). There were points not long ago when most Yankees fans were calling for Aaron Boone’s head. There was little production from this offense, especially in big game situations. Meanwhile, the Red Sox were cruising along, holding first place for the majority of the season. While projected to be a middle-of-the-pack team, they instead exceeded expectations, with guys like Bobby Dalbec, Hunter Renfroe and Garrett Whitlock stepping up to support their already strong core. With Chris Sale and Kyle Schwarber fully healthy, I can’t imagine the Red Sox losing the Wild Card game to this underwhelming Yankees squad.

Evan: While the Yankees have had some problems, they have most certainly improved from the beginning of the season. This is a different ball club regardless of their first-half struggles. If the Yankees’ first-half woes are going to be brought up, it would be a shame not to bring up the problems in Boston. Pitching-wise, the team lacks reliable arms to go deep into games along with a reliable closer. While I do like Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Whitlock, that simply isn’t enough, especially if the Red Sox aim to go farther than the Yankees in the playoffs. With New York, they bring Cole, Loáisiga, Taillon and more to match up with Boston. You brought up Sale, but his last start against the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, in which 10 hits and five runs were given up, doesn’t seem very encouraging. While I’m very encouraged by Schwarber, Giancarlo Stanton’s second-half tear shows me more promise. In a possible Wild Card Game for each team, I see the Yankees firing back at anything Boston can give them and finally sending Boston back to Fenway Park. 

Jon: The Yankees have absolutely improved since their first half woes, that’s true. But the postseason is all about which team is rolling, and I think New York got too hot too quick. In their last 10 games, they are 3-7, including a series loss to the bottomfeeder Orioles. Boston is now 5-5 in their last five, but have not lost a series in three weeks, despite losing legitimately half the team momentarily to COVID-19. They have one of the easiest schedules in the league the rest of the way and should feel confident in surpassing the Yankees in the standings to win home field for the wild card game. Sale’s last start wasn’t his best, but it is worth noting that only one run was earned (four resulted from a ball getting lost in the sun) and the Rays are the best team in the American League. In terms of their pitching depth, the starters have been consistently keeping the team in games all year, and the additions of Garrett Richards and Tanner Houck to the bullpen have improved their numbers immensely. The Red Sox have proven themselves against the Yankees this year, already winning the season series with three games to go, and I have no reason to see that success wouldn’t continue in a one game playoff.

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