Postseason baseball is back in the Bronx for the first time since 2019, when the Yankees swept the AL Central-winning Twins in the ALDS. Aaron Judge and co. will take on a young and hungry Guardians team this time around, as Cleveland’s strong pitching staff looks to quiet the Yankees’ bats. Gerrit Cole will face Cal Quantrill in Game 1 on Tuesday night.
Let’s take a look at starting lineups, betting odds, and predictions for Tuesday’s game at Yankee Stadium.
Cleveland Guardians vs. New York Yankees Betting Odds
The Yankees are pretty heavy favorites in Game 1, entering at -220 on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 7 runs.
The Guardians face the scenario every wild card winner is dealing with this round: their top two starters aren’t available for Game 1. While the Yankees will see plenty of Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie later in the series, the odds reflect a belief that New York has the pitching advantage for at least one game in addition to the hitting advantage.
Cleveland Guardians vs. New York Yankees Game 1 Prediction
My pick: Yankees Moneyline (-220)
I believe the Guardians will make this series competitive, but the wild card format created this Game 1 mismatch. The Yankees should be able to do some damage against Quantrill, and as much as Cole has struggled in the postseason, the Guardians probably just don’t have the power to put enough runs on the board.
Bieber and McKenzie, two high-strikeout pitchers, will be an entirely different challenge for New York, but the Yankees are well-positioned in Game 1.
LF S. Kwan L
SS A. Rosario R
3B J. Ramirez S
1B J. Naylor L
DH O. Gonzalez R
2B A. Gimenez L
RF W. Brennan L
C A. Hedges R
CF M. Straw R
Cleveland Guardians vs. Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole didn’t have as dominant of a year as the Yankees were hoping, but he still had flashes of brilliance. The 32-year-old had a 3.50 ERA across 33 starts (200.2 IP), with a 3.47 FIP, 1.02 WHIP, and 11.5 K/9.
Cole is one of the game’s top strikeout artists, which makes for an interesting matchup against a Guardians team that strikes out less than any in the league. When Cole gives up contact, it tends to cost him. He’s surrendered 33 home runs this season, the most of any AL pitcher. Cleveland doesn’t have a power-hitting lineup, but could they steal a blast or two in Yankee Stadium? Cole’s recent track record says they might.
The Guardians are the anti-Yankees in their high-contact, low-power approach. That, by default, makes it tough to win this series. Cleveland struggled to get much going against a deep Rays pitching staff, and it’s going to take more than just the occasional clutch hit from Jose Ramirez or Oscar Gonzalez to win this game.
One advantage the Guardians might have: Cole has been rattled easily this season. Considering Cleveland embraces stolen bases, this team could be well positioned to distract Cole with action on the basepaths.
2B DJ LeMahieu R
RF A. Judge R
1B A. Rizzo L
3B J. Donaldson R
DH G. Stanton R
LF O. Cabrera S
CF H. Bader R
SS I. Kiner-Falefa R
C J. Trevino R
New York Yankees vs. Cal Quantrill
Cal Quantrill has quietly been very good for the Guardians since early last season. The former No. 8 pick posted a 3.38 ERA across 32 starts (186.1 IP) this season with a 1.21 WHIP, though his 4.12 FIP indicates the Guardians’ defense might have helped him out a bit.
Quantrill hasn’t given up as many home runs as Cole, but 21 is still a decent amount – enough to be a concern against the Yankees. Aaron Judge is an obvious power threat, and I’d keep an eye on Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo after a few days off. Neither hit well at all in September, but Stanton started to find some power in the final week of the season and both should benefit from the rest. Quantrill gives them a better chance to find their rhythm than Bieber or McKenzie will.
With the crowd behind them and a low-strikeout pitcher on the mound in Quantrill, the Yankees’ offense could be in for a solid day. It would benefit the Yankees greatly to knock Quantrill out of the game early. The presence of elite closer Emmanuel Clase at the back end of the bullpen, potentially for multiple innings, means New York would have a disadvantage if this game came down to the final innings.