Confident, versatile New York Yankees will test Cleveland Indians

Indians 2017 playoff run begins Thursday night in Cleveland

The New York Yankees announced that Sonny Gray will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians at 7:38 p.m. Thursday at Progressive Field. And the character the Yankees showed to pull out the victory - turning the page on a awful start, immediately responding to get back in the game and doing the unconventional - may make NY the team no one wants to face. Sonny Gray has been terrific for the most part, but after that NY has some concerns.

The Yankees' bullpen struck out better than 29 percent of batters faced this season, the highest in the majors, with an ERA that was 24 percent lower than the league average (3.34). We even witnessed mind boggling winning streaks followed up by head scratching losing streaks. The Indians were dominant late in the year, with an AL-record winning streak stretching from late August and through most of September, but NY played.605 ball in the second half themselves, winning 20 of 28 in the month of September. "They're a good team", NY reliever David Robertson said. They're all big! It seems odd to view the Red Sox and Yankees as underdogs, but that's the case as the pressure is on the 100-win Indians and Astros to avoid an early playoff exit after tremendous regular seasons.

Cleveland used a torrid second half of the season, which included an AL-record 22 consecutive victories between August and September, to finish two wins short of the National League's Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors.

Pluto would've rather seen the Indians play the Twins than the Yankees, but he said the Indians are clearly the better team. I know, if you throw it in the wrong place, he's going to hit it a long way.

In eight career regular-season starts against The Tribe, Gray is 3-3 with a 3.38 ERA. Gregorius tied it with a 3-run homer in the bottom of the first, Judge homered in his playoff debut and Gardner also went deep as NY rallied for an 8-4 victory, its first postseason win since 2012.

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NY will counter with Sonny Gray, acquired at the July 31 trade deadline to help get NY into October. "Last year, he was iffy in a couple playoff starts". They are really well balanced.

Girardi also acknowledged the Yankees could carry more pitchers, particularly because of the workload of the bullpen Tuesday, which could leave them without David Robertson and Chad Green at least until Game 2. He's still their best starter, but suffice it to say, you're typically expecting more than a third of an inning from your ace in the postseason. Inside the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium, he was 9-3 with a 3.22 ERA - hence Girardi holding him back for Game 3 in the Bronx. The Japanese right-hander had a down regular season, going just 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA, but is coming off a seven-inning, 15-strikeout performance against Toronto on September 29. "They've got some scrappy guys that put the ball in play and run", Bauer said.

"We looked at a lot of different things", Girardi said.

The Yankees are a great team, according to Pluto, though "they weren't supposed to be quite as good this year as in the past".

Going into last year's playoffs, it was clear that the Cubs were the team to watch, and to beat.

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