Boston Red Sox

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13, 2018: Jonathan Lucroy of the Oakland Athletics looks on as Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees celebrate after both scored in the first inning at Yankee Stadium. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Oakland or New York? New York or Oakland? The Yankees have more talent. The A’s have more pitching. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.


Here’s the truth, Red Sox fans: the first round of the postseason is more about you than it is about them. The New York Yankees (100-62) and Oakland A’s (97-65) will open the American League playoffs with the Wild Card game tonight at Yankee Stadium coming from two different coasts, with two different rosters and strategies. The star-laden Yankees will give the ball to right-hander Luis Severino. The A’s are quite literally turning the game over to their bullpen. And the Red Sox must be ready for either.

Before we get to the particulars, many (including me) were surprised the Yankees chose Severino given his overall struggles in the second half and the option of giving the ball to either Masahiro Tanaka (a career 1.44 postseason ERA) or J.A. Happ (the Yankees were 9-2 in his starts, during which Happ had a 2.69 ERA. Meanwhile, Oakland may literally use a parade of pitchers, further muddying the picture and presenting an impossible matchup to handicap.

The bottom line is I like the A’s in this game more than I did two days ago, though it still feels like a coin flip.

During the regular season, the Red Sox went only 2-4 against Oakland and 10-9 against the Yankees. Here is a general overview of how the teams performed against Boston:


(Stats via


(Stats via

So which is the better matchup for the Red Sox? On paper, it feels like New York. Oakland clearly pitched better against Boston this season, though those numbers include an early-season no-hitter by Sean Manaea, who has since been lost to injury. Games against Oakland are likely to be closer and lower-scoring, which could result in a matchup of bullpens that favors the A’s.

That said, the Yankees clearly have high-end talent that should scare opponents. What’s worth watching tonight is how the A’s specifically pitch to Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorious, Giancarlo Stanton and even Gary Sanchez. Try to pay particular attention to how well the A’s execute in those individual at-bats because it may be a preview of how they attack Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, among others.

Along the way, try to enjoy the game.

But be careful what you wish for.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.