Evan’s Take: Examining the playoff path of the New York Yankees to a World Series

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The New York Yankees may have the most on the line ahead of the upcoming 2022 MLB playoffs. 

They looked like one of the most dangerous teams in baseball in the first half of the season, and even after starting the second half of the season looking like a shell of their first half self, the team was able to rebound very well and go into the playoffs with some great momentum.  

Perhaps the biggest thing on the line lies with the team’s star outfielder Aaron Judge. As the most notable free agent on the market, he’ll have plenty of suitors, and while the Yankees remain at the top of that list, a World Series win in 2022 would potentially give Judge the most incentive toward staying in the Bronx. If New York is able to meet Judge’s financial expectations along with his first championship ring, there’s no reason for the star to depart for anywhere else. 

However, if there’s anything guaranteed in baseball, the MLB playoffs are going to be competitive in the American League and the franchise’s potential 28th championship is far from guaranteed.  

ALDS Series

Potential Opponent: Tampa Bay Rays/Cleveland Guardians 

Most Likely Opponent: Cleveland Guardians  

The Yankees’ first challenge will be against either the Cleveland Guardians or Tampa Bay Rays. If you’re the Yankees, you certainly want to be going up against a familiar foe in Tampa Bay over a Cleveland Guardians roster that features some impressive pitching arms in Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie. That’s all without mentioning their offense that includes a rookie star in Steven Kwan, a speedy shortstop in Ahmed Rosario, and a dangerous power threat in Jose Ramirez. While the Yankees have faced the Rays 19 times this season, they’ve faced Cleveland just three times, with the team winning two of those matchups. The familiarity with Tampa Bay and a powerful Yankees offense gives New York a tremendous advantage in a potential matchup. However, a matchup with the Guardians would put more pressure on the Yankees pitching staff than any other aspect of their roster. This is a Cleveland roster that can certainly put runs on the board despite ranking 16th in runs per game in the entire league. They’ve shown that they have the weapons to cause trouble for New York and if the Yankees pitching slips up, they could easily find themselves with problems. While Cleveland does have some great arms, the Yankees offense has looked great as of late with players like Oswaldo Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton, and Judge all stepping up for New York. I don’t foresee a problem for New York’s offense as long as they stay consistent against a Cleveland or Tampa Bay pitching rotation. Therefore, I have New York moving on.  

Prediction:  

If Yankees play Cleveland, New York wins in 4 

If Yankees play Tampa Bay, New York wins in 3  

ALCS  

Potential Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays/Seattle Mariners/Houston Astros 

Most Likely Opponent: Houston Astros 

I have a bold opinion for this series. If New York is able to get to the ALCS against who I believe will be Houston, it will be more entertaining than the World Series. The history between both of these teams have been heavily publicized due to Houston’s 2017 cheating scandal. While both teams look different in 2022, tensions have certainly not faded and it’s going to be an entertaining series of games. While Houston’s offense has proved their own skill, the pitching is what makes them so different. Headlined by ace Justin Verlander, who looks to be the leading candidate for the American League’s Cy Young award, it’s the deepest and most talented pitching rotation in the American League. The Yankees would certainly have trouble with Houston’s arms, but if there’s any offense that’s equipped to defeat them, it’s New York. Verlander and Framber Valdez have been great keeping the ball in the ballpark, which is a great detriment to a New York offense that looks to the long ball for a large chunk of its home runs. Jose Urquidi and Luis Garcia have contradicted this statement with 29 home runs and 23 home runs respectively, so the Yankees offense will have an easier time with lower half of Houston’s rotation. But, just like the ALDS, a Yankees trip to the next round will depend on its pitching. Gerrit Cole will need to keep the ball in the ballpark and show that he is the ace of this team with an elite performance. Luis Severino has been very solid since his return from the injured list and Nestor Cortes had a great month of September after a shaky August. It’s going to be difficult to pitch to guys like Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, and Kyle Tucker, but if the Yankees can string together some excellent performances from its staff, they could certainly pull off a trip to the October Classic.  

Prediction: If New York wins, it will be in 7 games. 

World Series 

Most Likely Opponent: Los Angeles Dodgers

While the NLCS is sure to be just as competitive as the ALCS, I’ll predict a Dodgers vs. Yankees matchup in the final stage of the 2022 baseball season. If you thought Houston was a good baseball team, Los Angeles is a whole different beast. Their pitching is excellent. They have an excellent offense led by star first baseman Freddie Freeman along with players such as Mookie Betts, Max Muncy, and many more. The pitching will need to be great as always for New York and the offense would have its toughest challenge of the year with a Dodgers pitching rotation that allowed the lowest runs per game in the entire MLB. There’s no room for error if you’re the New York offense, especially when the rotation would be preoccupied in its own right. With the second best offense in the MLB, New York should be able to get the job done, but the concern comes right back to their pitching, especially when you’re facing players like Betts with 35 home runs in 2022. If the pitching rotation keeps the games close, there’s certainly a chance that the Yankees pull off the upset win and grab their 28th franchise ring.  

Prediction: If New York wins, it will be in 6 games. 

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