Game: Cleveland Guardians @ New York Yankees
Time: 7:37 p.m. ET
Odds: Guardians +115, Yankees -135
Even after having some success in 2021, former 36th-round pick Nestor Cortes called pitching coach Matt Blake of the New York Yankees this offseason to clarify his position as one of the team’s starting pitchers. Cortes was informed by the Yankees that they had faith in his abilities, and the left-hander frequently reaffirmed their opinion throughout the team’s 99-win regular season in 2022.
On Thursday, Cortes will have the opportunity to start the host Yankees’ American League Division Series against the Cleveland Guardians and give New York a 2-0 advantage. However, New York is expected to have severe rain, which might move the game to Friday.
Tuesday’s game saw the Yankees win 4-1 as Gerrit Cole pitched 6.1 innings and gave up just one run. Anthony Rizzo and Harrison Bader both hit home runs for the Yankees. A win in Game 2 will give the Yankees an almost insurmountable lead in the series.
The Yankees are expecting to see more of what Cortes did during the regular season, regardless of when he throws and under what circumstances. In 28 starts this season, Cortes was 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA in a career-high 158.1 innings. He also recorded 163 strikeouts. In his final five starts of the regular season, he went 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA. In his final 13.1 innings of the season, Cortes allowed just two hits and did not give up a run. After a 2021 season in which Cortes pitched to a 2.90 ERA in 14 starts, the Yankees knew they had another piece of their rotation. Tonight will be the first career postseason start for Cortes.
Shane Bieber will start for the Guardians. Bieber, the 2020 AL Cy Young award winner, went 13-8 this season with a 2.88 ERA. He began the playoff season by going 7.2 innings against Tampa Bay. He gave up one run on three hits as Cleveland beat the Rays. In his final six starts of the season, Bieber went 5-0. It’s been a long way back from 16 starts in 2021 after suffering a shoulder injury.
Bieber started Game 1 of the 2020 wild-card playoffs against the Yankees. Cleveland is hopeful Bieber doesn’t have a repeat of that performance. He gave up a pair of two-run homers to Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres. In 4.1 innings, Bieber allowed seven runs on nine hits in that game.
The Guardians are counting on Bieber as well as its offense against Cortes. The Yankees starter has faced Cleveland five times in his career (two starts) and is 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA. Cleveland finished the regular season with an average of 5.0 runs per game. So far in the postseason, they have scored a total of just four runs. They have all come on home runs by Jose Ramirez, Steven Kwan, and Oscar Gonzalez. The Guardians have also struck out 35 times so far in the playoffs.
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