The Yankees used their greatest strength to get past the Twins.
If you watch any show on MLB Network, or you know who Brian Kenny is, then you may have heard this idea tossed around. Kenny, with the backing of Hall of Famer John Smoltz, posed the idea of the New York Yankees starting Chad Green and just “bullpening” their way to the finish line in the Wild Card game against the Twins.
The Yankees didn’t start Chad Green, but that’s essentially what ended up happening. Luis Severino started the game, and in the blink of an eye the Yankees were down 3-0 in the first inning.
During the regular season, MLB teams were 33-110 when trailing by three or more after the top of the first.
After Severino was pulled after a third of an inning, the Yankees bullpen went to work. They tied a Major League record for most strikeouts by a bullpen in a single postseason game with 13. The bullpen pitched 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball, and Chad Green pitched the most important inning of the game.
Green entered the game with runners on second and third with only one out. The Twins failed to score, keeping the game at 3-0 going into the bottom half of the first. The Yankees tied the game on a Didi Gregorius three-run home run and never looked back from there.
The Yankees have five relievers that are in the top 10 in strikeouts per nine innings. So why not ride them in a one game playoff? David Robertson registered career highs in pitches and innings in a single appearance, and he was on point, punching out five guys in 3 1/3 innings.
Tommy Kahnle who made his postseason debut tonight wasn’t phased. He pitched 2 1/3 innings of no-hit ball and was fired up after he struck out Ehrie Adrianza to end the eighth inning.
The one thing that was up in that air when it came to his “bullpenning” idea was if the Yankees would need to bridge the gap to Chapman or Betances with a starter. They didn’t need the bridge tonight, because Robertson and Green tore through the Twins lineup.
Severino only threw 29 pitches, which is the equivalent of a side session that he would normally throw in-between starts, so he should still be fresh for the ALDS. What the Yankees did tonight is indicative of how baseball works these days. The Yankees trot guys out there that pump close to 100 mph and do nothing but strike guys out. It’s one after another, and they used it to their advantage.
We should all take Brian Kenny’s ideas a little more seriously next time, because he hit the nail on the head with this one. If this was going to be the outcome, why even start Severino?