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Photo Credit: New York Yankees

It's ShowTime: Previewing the Yankees-Guardians ALDS

It’s show time, folks. As four teams battle it out to advance to the American League Championship Series, the Yankees (AL East Division Champions) will host the Guardians (AL Central Division Champions) in the Bronx on Tuesday night at 7:37 p.m. EDT in a best-of-five series opener.

The first two games will be played Tuesday and Thursday in the Bronx. Saturday’s game and Sunday’s (if necessary) will be played at Progressive Field in Cleveland. If a fifth game is warranted, the two teams will travel back to the Bronx for the grand finale on Monday.

The Guardians advanced to the ALDS after sweeping the Rays over the weekend, with Saturday’s game ending on an Oscar Gonzalez walk-off homerun in the 15th inning. Prior to the postseason, the Guardians went 7-3 in their final ten games of the season. As the Guardians look to carry that momentum into the next round, let’s take a walk around the bases while we preview the matchup.

First: A Look Back

The two teams faced each other a total of six times this season with the Yankees coming out on top 5-1. In those six outings, the Yankees outscored the Guardians 38-14 runs. The last time the two teams faced off in the postseason was during the 2020 Wild Card round when the Yankees swept the Guardians in two games over a best-of-three series. Guardians ace, Shane Bieber, allowed seven runs over 4 2/3 innings pitched, while Gerrit Cole raked in 13 strikeouts and allowed two runs over seven innings pitched.

Second: From the Bump

While both teams finished among the top contenders from the mound this year, the Guardians relied more heavily on its pitching staff for its overall win strategy. The Yankees finished the year with an average 3.30 ERA and the Guardians finished close behind with a 3.46 ERA. Gerrit Cole (13-8 this season) will face Cal Quantrill (15-5 this season). Cole is undefeated in his two starts against the Guardians this year.

His first start against them this year was also his first time ever pitching to Jose Trevino. In that outing, he pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings with nine strikeouts. Quantrill did not get the loss in his one start against the Yankees this year, but he did give up three runs and a homerun to Josh Donaldson in 6.1 innings pitched.

Neither team’s bullpens were forces to be reckoned with this year, finishing among the Top 5 best ERA and Top 7 most saves respectively. Strong starts are going to be crucial for the Yankees given how many of those contributors are now on the injured list.

In Game 2, the matchup will likely be Nestor Cortes vs. Shane Bieber. Nestor Cortes has a 1-0 record with an ERA of 2.50 and 18 strikeouts in five appearances against the Guardians in his career. Shane Bieber has a 1-1 record with an ERA of 5.74 and 19 strikeouts in three appearances against the Yankees in his career.

Third: From the Plate

The Yankees may have to look to some of their newcomers for success against Cal Quantrill in game one as Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and DJ Lemahieu are all 0-5 in 5 and 6 plate appearances against Quantrill. Josh Donaldson and Harrison Bader have both homered on him. On the flipside, Steve Kwan is 0-5 in his five plate appearances against Gerrit Cole, Amed Rosario is 0-8 in nine plate appearances, Josh Naylor is 1-9 with a home run and an RBI in nine plate appearances, and Andres Gimenez is 2-9 in 9 plate appearances against Gerrit Cole. Game one could make for a long night.

Home: No Crybabies in the Bleachers

The Guardians OF Myles Straw is sure to get an earful from the home field advantaged Bleacher Creatures after scaling the short porch wall to yell at a fan during a series in the Bronx earlier this year.

It's showtime, New York. What do you say we take a page from Aaron Judge’s book of class and let the boys in pinstripes do the dirty work? When the work is done, we can spread the news.

Jonna M. Perlinger