The Cleveland Guardians are in a do-or-die Game 5 in their ALDS series with the New York Yankees on Monday night.
For New York, it will roll with Jameson Taillon, making his first-ever postseason start and second appearance after coming into the tenth inning of Game 2 of this series. Taillon pitched well against the Guardians in an April start, giving up one run in five innings, but you can pretty much throw that out the window at this point.
The Guardians are countering with Aaron Civale, making his first appearance of the postseason. Civale struggled for much of his injury-riddled season and didn’t fare well against New York in two starts this year, but he was pitching much better down the stretch, with a 3.27 ERA and 3.66 FIP in his final four starts. The key for Civale will be to, of course, prevent the Yankees from doing what they do best, which is bludgeon you with home runs.
To say Monday night’s game might become a bullpen game is not a knock against Civale or Taillon by any means; there is just simply no room for error in a deciding game like this, and Cleveland knows its true strength here will lie in its well-rested bullpen. You can rest assured knowing manager Terry Francona won’t hesitate to go to his bullpen arms as early as needed.
The Yankees will also be throwing everything at the wall on their end. If Taillon struggles, could Nestor Cortes make an appearance on just a couple days of rest? It’s certainly possible, but if Cleveland can really work its way into New York’s bullpen, the advantage would appear to be in the Guardians’ favor. Though the Guardians have struggled to score runs throughout the postseason, they’ve had the most success against New York’s bullpen, as they’ve been able to scratch out two late wins against the Yankees’ pen this series.
But ultimately, anything goes in a deciding game. It’s an all-hands-on-deck scenario for everyone involved, and since every game in this series has been close, it could all come down to one fatal mistake for either side in determining who moves on to face the Astros in the ALCS.