Battle in the Bronx – Cleveland Guardians vs. New York Yankees ALDS preview

Can Cleveland climb past one of the best teams in baseball and make it to the ALCS?

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Technically speaking, the Cleveland Guardians have yet to lose in the playoffs. Sure, they've lost 13 playoff series as the Cleveland Indians. But, again, they've technically yet to lose in the playoffs under their new Guardians moniker.

The Wild Card series against the Tampa Bay Rays was perfect if you're a hardcore baseball enthusiast. It was low-scoring, near-perfect pitching and featured a lot of smart, tactical management from both clubs. Other than Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, Saturday's 15-inning affair was arguably one of the best overall games of playoff-caliber baseball played at Progressive Field in recent years.

But, as the Guardians now head to New York City to take on the Yankees, things will obviously be a bit tight going forward. If they win, Cleveland will be on the precipice of making the World Series for the first time since 2016. But, with New York having the second-best record in the American League, it's not going to be as easy of a sweep for Cleveland this time around. Today, Right Down Euclid will be breaking down the series itself as well as some key things to watch for as things get underway in the Bronx.

Guardians vs. Yankees odds, moneyline, over/under and more:

All odds were provided by FanDuel Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of Right Down Euclid.

Series preview

Unlike the last round, this series between the Yankees and the Guardians will be a best of five. Start times for Games 3, 4, and 5 have yet to be announced, but it follows the 2-2-1 format for home schedules, meaning Games 3 and 4 will be in Cleveland and the rest, including a potential take-all Game 5, will be in New York.

Here’s the schedule as we know it so far (all Division Series games are being broadcasted on TBS):

  • Game 1: @ New York, 10/11, 7:37 p.m.
  • Game 2: @ New York, 10/13, 7:37 p.m.
  • Game 3: @ Cleveland, 10/15, TBD
  • Game 4: @ Cleveland, 10/16, TBD
  • Game 5: @ New York, 10/17, TBD

Cal Quantrill, who did not pitch in the Wild Card, will start Game 1, Shane Bieber will get Game 2 and Triston McKenzie will take the mound in a pivotal Game 3.

There will be no easy matchups for the Guardians on offense because the Yankees feature a top-flight pitching staff as well. Not only that but said New York bullpen is also well-rested after not having to deal with Wild Card weekend. Respectively, the Yankees and Guardians bullpens finished 3rd and 5th overall in ERA to finish the regular season. Like the matchup against Tampa Bay, look for Cleveland to have some duels against New York starting on Tuesday night.

Sure, the Yankees have a scary pitching rotation but outlasting this group might be what matters most in the end for Cleveland. Half the guys that made New York’s bullpen function in the regular season are injured. Michael King, Ron Marinaccio, and Wandy Peralta all pitched at least 40 innings with an ERA under 2.80, but are on the injured list. Peralta is expected to be activated and added to the ALDS roster, but he hasn’t pitched in almost a month. King and Marinaccio, along with Zach Brittan, Chad Green, and Stephen Ridings, will all miss at least the ALDS.

If the Guardians are able to maintain their relatively clean bill of health, they have a puncher's chance against the Yankees. Since going up 2-0 in the 2017 ALDS, the Guardians have lost five straight postseason games to the Yankees and seen two postseason berths come to an end at New York's hands. If Cleveland wins on Tuesday night, it could be a great way to flip the narrative back in their favor.

Trying to keep New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge from heating up is going to be key in winning this series for the Cleveland Guardians. Photo credit: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

What to watch for

Straw keeping his cool against the Bleacher Creatures

In the ninth inning on April 23 at Yankees Stadium, left fielder Steven Kwan hit the fence hard chasing a game-tying double by Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Kwan was stunned and some Yankee fans were celebrating it. Cleveland center fielder Myles Straw took offense and climbed the fence in left-center field to yell at them. Eventually, Straw calmed down but it was only the beginning.

The chaos ratcheted up after Gleyber Torres followed with a game-winning RBI single to right. Fans hurled debris including beer cans from the right-field bleachers, at one point hitting an umpire, who was attempting to restore order, in the back. The next day there was extra security in the bleachers.

Apparently, after the game, Straw had death threats thrown his way via social media. But, Straw said multiple times Monday that Yankees fans can do and say “whatever they want.” He said he intends to focus on the series, though he acknowledged he could use the negative energy to charge himself up.

That's the right mentality to carry with him. But, when Straw takes centerfield later tonight, he can't amp himself up too much either. It's a fine line that the young Cleveland star has to walk since he's already battling the Yankees on the field. He can't be fighting with their fans as well.

Keeping court out of session

New York superstar Aaron Judge had a season that's been beyond incredible. Judge finished the regular season as the AL’s new single-season home run champion with 62. He also joined the Yankees in leading the with 254 homers in the regular season. That’s twice as many as the Guardians, who finished 29th among MLB’s 30 teams, hit.

Over the years Cleveland has done a good job keeping Judge in the ballpark. He hit two homers against them on April 22 but for his career, he’s only hit five against the Guardians. He also only has one postseason homerun against Cleveland as well. Judge in 28 games against the Guardians is hitting .232 (22-for-95) with five homers, 12 RBI, 38 strikeouts, 18 walks and possesses a .833 OPS.

If the Guardians are serious about punching their ticket to the ALCS, containing Judge is key.

Coming in fresh

The Yankees have been sitting for five days since their last game. It remains to be seen if that hurts or helps them. The Guardians, meanwhile, are coming off of an extra-inning thriller on Saturday and clearly don't have nearly the same amount of rest as New York. That could be to Cleveland's benefit, though as the Guardians could come in feeling loose and ready to go as New York needs time to get things going. Seizing on any momentum will be key for Cleveland no matter what game it is but it really helps to set the tone early.

Final series prediction: Cleveland 3, New York 1

Featured image credit: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at He can also be found three to five times a week on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.

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