Thanks in large part to star rookie catcher Gary Sanchez, the New York Yankees might still be in the playoff conversation. They're 80-76 as of Tuesday, and while they’re five games back of a wild card spot, they’re on a roll and will be looking to end their season on a high note – even though it’s technically possible for them to clinch a place in the postseason, they’d need several teams to falter all at the same time while winning 20 of their remaining games. New York hasn’t looked back since finally surpassing the .500 mark in mid-August, and they've succeeded despite the loss of key players such Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman. Rookies like Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Tyler Austin have provided the offensive punch that the Yankees have needed all year. Though they're 8-8 against Baltimore this season, the Yanks are 5-2 against the O’s at home.
For the Orioles, this season has been one of shattering expectations and dispelling the doubters. Though many baseball pundits pegged Baltimore as a bottom-feeding last-place team prior to the start of the 2016 season, the Orioles are now on the verge of the postseason, sitting at 85-71. Not only that, but they are contending for first place in arguably the league’s most competitive division. Most of this success can be attributed to their stacked batting order, which includes stars like Manny Machadao, Mark Trumbo, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis. While their rotation is their lone weakness, the Orioles could make some noise in October with their pure offensive talent.
The Yankees number-two starter, Michael Pineda, will take to the mound on Friday. Though he’s been unimpressive this season, Pineda has picked up his play in the last couple of months. His 4.89 ERA and 6-11 record don’t accurately display how well he’s pitched lately. He hasn’t given up more than two runs in each of his last four starts, and he hasn’t taken a loss in September. Pineda has been stellar against Baltimore this season, allowing only two runs in ten innings in his two starts against them. The Yankees won one of those games, and they'll look to win some more at home this weekend.
For Baltimore, it’ll be Yovani Gallardo making the start. A former Texas Ranger, Gallardo has yet to find his rhythm with his new team. His 5.63 ERA and 5-8 record are a big reason why the Orioles rotation has struggled this season. The Yankees have hit the ball very well off Gallardo in 2016, and that doesn’t bode well for him in such an important game. Gallardo is 0-2 against New York with an 11.88 ERA and 12 runs allowed in eight and a third innings.
- Sports.net’s top tip: The Yankees are streaking and will face a struggling pitcher at home, and will be hoping to beat the odds for a postseason berth or at least end their season on a high note. Back New York to win this one 7-4.