New York Yankees advance to the American League Division Series

Cleveland Indians catcher Roberto Perez with 1st base coach Sandy Alomar Jr

Cleveland Indians catcher Roberto Perez with 1st base coach Sandy Alomar Jr

Obviously, all of those regular-season wins are for naught if a team can't advance past the divisional round.

Normally, I eschew fixed-odds futures like these because you can nearly always get a better payoff by taking the series price in a team's first series and parlaying your winnings onto each subsequent series (or game-by-game in single-elimination tournaments such as the National Football League playoffs or March Madness). Kluber being able to pitch twice, in Games 2-5, is a plus for Cleveland. But let's get them out of the first round first before we start talking about what a World Series championship would mean. He has a 9-1 record with a 2.42 ERA in those 13 appearances.

Following the three run first inning, Brett Garnder hit a solo home run to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Although the team comes into the playoffs with the league's best record, that mark is irrelevant once the postseason starts.

"He's in a pretty good place, " Francona said of Miller, who was such a difference-maker in Cleveland's run to Game 7 of last year's World Series against the Cubs.

The Yankees might continue with a tactic of pulling their starters early on, considering there are two days off in the potential 7 games, and they will likely carry 12 pitchers into the series.

The Yankees acquired Gray in a trade from the Oakland Athletics on July 31. The Indians were baseball's hottest team in the second half of the season and have the best manager in the sport in Terry Francona running the show.

NY will counter with Sonny Gray, acquired at the July 31 trade deadline to help get NY into October. The Cleveland Cavaliers star was seen celebrating the New York-based team during Game 1 of the 2007 ALDS against the Indians, which the Indians won 3-1.

S0220ALOMAR
Cleveland Indians catchers Sandy Alomar Jr. and Tony Pena

When discussing Cleveland's 2017 season, you have to start with the number 22.

The Yankees come into the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians with a bullpen that was forced to pitch over eight innings after Luis Severino's shortcomings as a starter.

Gray has only appeared in the playoffs in 2013 with Oakland.

Now the focus turns toward the American League Division Series and National League Division Series, where all of the heavy hitters begin their respective postseason campaigns in search of the, in some cases, elusive World Series trophy. The aggressive bullpen use will certainly affect Arizona and NY moving forward-Ray, for example, figured to start Game 1 of the NLDS-but that's the price for not winning their division. Maybe we can beat home the fact that the Nationals were essentially the runner-up to the Red Sox in the Chris Sale sweepstakes this offseason. Severino has limited batters to a.207/.265/.362 slash line (batting average, on-base and slugging percentage) this season at Yankee Stadium. It's all right there on the first page of the baseball managers' manual: Whenever possible, lead with your ace. And the featured Division Series should be a dandy between a pair of teams who, this year, are in roles that they are not historically accustomed to.

The Red Sox also can take comfort in having just seen the Astros in a four-game series at Fenway Park to end the regular season. He has been lights out in his six career starts against the Astros going 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA. Some fans believe the postseason is watered down by the addition of two more teams, even though MLB's postseason is still the toughest to crack among the four major sports.

But the Cubs, who last year snapped a 108-year title drought, have gained plenty of playoff experience over the last two seasons, have a deep lineup and need no motivation. Five of the previous 10 wild-card games featured one team getting shutout. The Red Sox and Yankees both return to the postseason in the same year. Cleveland's weighted on-base average against pitches 95 miles per hour or faster was.316, the 16th best mark in the majors; it was.341 (second-best) against everything else.

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