The New York Yankees gave Gerrit Cole a ton of money to pitch them to victory on the biggest stages. Well, this is one of them. The problem is that while he is unquestionably one of the best starting pitchers in the major leagues, his opponent in the American League playoff opener could be THE best – in this bizarre season, anyway.

Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians is the other guy on the mound as these playoffs begin at 7 PM ET at Progressive Field in Cleveland. BetAnySports customers will get reduced juice for a better deal on the odds, and can keep up with the action through Sports Betting Prime.

What’s kind of strange here is that all three games of the series will be played in Cleveland, to avoid excessive travel. And that plays to the advantage of the Tribe, in more ways than one.

er established something very unique this season, in that he was the major league leader in wins (8-1 record), ERA (1.63) and strikeouts (122), which is the pitching equivalent of the Triple Crown. Cole is 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 94 strikeouts.

The Yankees have made some lineup adjustments for this game. Most significantly, Gary Sanchez, who was third among MLB catchers in home runs, was pulled in favor of Kyle Higashioka. The reason is that Cole appears to be much more comfortable pitching to “Higgy,” with a 1.00 ERA and .432 OPS against in four starts. Presumably Sanchez could be utilized after they take Cole out of the game.

One of the factors that would give the Yankees a real chance – not only in this game but in the series – is their ability to hit home runs. Almost everywhere you turn there is power. Everyone knows what a guy like Aaron Judge can do. And Giancarlo Stanton is at least, well, someone who can hit the ball out of the park on any given day.

But Luke Voit is a new hero, having injected himself into the MVP discussion with a season in which he hit 22 round-trippers to capture the home run title. DJ LaMahieu won the batting title by 42 points over last year’s champion, Tim Anderson of the White Sox.

In the MLB playoff betting odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Yankees are actually favored:

New York Yankees -112
Cleveland Indians +102

Over 6.5 Runs +100
Under 6.5 Runs -120

The Yankees were undoubtedly the beneficiaries of a home field advantage. And they were just not very effective on the road, where they put together just an 11-18 record. When you look at the OPS figures (on base plus slugging), for LaMahieu it was 496 points higher at home than on the road, and for Voit there is a 392-point difference. That is pretty astounding; you’d think these guys were playing for the Colorado Rockies. All told, only 27 of the Yankees’ 94 homers came on the road.

With a guy like Bieber out there, the Indians have a pretty good shot at neutralizing the Yanks from the side that is far more powerful – the right side of the plate. In fact, righties have only a .565 OPS against him. When Cleveland wants to go to the pen, its primary option is going to be James Karinchak, who has struck out 51% of the right-handed batters he has faced. he is one strikeout short of averaging two per inning.

Manipulating the bullpen for the Indians is not Terry Francona. The veteran manager has been out of action for the most part, as he’s had surgery due to blood clots and gastrointestinal issues. So Sandy Alomar Jr., a former catcher and coach who has made six All-Star teams, is the interim manager and has been for most of the season.

Maybe the guy we have to worry about as far as power is concerned is Cole, who gave up 14 homers in his 12 starts. Frankly, there aren’t a lot of reasons not to like the Indians here. And we could parlay that with the “under” too.

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