Yankees manager Joe Girardi is readying his team for Tuesday's wild-card game against Ervin Santana and the Minnesota Twins.
Although the Yankees are mathematically in contention for the AL East title, they would need to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend and also need the Houston Astros to sweep the Boston Red Sox. That said, Girardi has begun to look ahead to the wild card, which Yankee Stadium would host.
The Twins, losers of 103 games last season, have rebounded in 2017 to win 83 games so far and would likely start the 34-year-old Santana, who is 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA this season and threw five scoreless innings against the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians on Thursday.
Santana has faced the Yankees just once this season, giving up two runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings on Sept. 18 in a 2-1 Yankees win. He is 6-10 with a 5.66 ERA in 20 career starts against the Yankees and is 0-5 with a 6.43 ERA in his career at the new Yankee Stadium.
"We will continue to look at him,'' Girardi said, according to the New York Post's George A. King III. "He is obviously a pitcher with a lot of experience who has pitched extremely well this year and in the past, and he has been in these playoff games.''
Santana hasn't pitched in the playoffs since 2009, when he made four relief appearances in the ALCS with the Los Angeles Angels. He is 2-2 with a 5.56 ERA in eight games (two starts) in his postseason career.
"I'm just going to pitch the game like any other game," Santana said, according to the Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino.
The Yankees will likely start RHP Luis Severino, who is 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA this season, in the wild-card game. The 23-year-old Severino only lasted three innings when he faced the Twins in an 11-3 win on Sept. 20, giving up three runs and five hits on 71 pitches.
"Last year they didn't trust me to even start a regular game, and right now I have this opportunity to open the postseason," Severino said, according to the New York Daily News' Peter Botte, about potentially pitching in the wild-card game a year after he was bumped from the rotation after starting the season 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA. "I feel proud of myself and the team, too. I'll be ready."
Though the Yankees swept the Twins at Yankee Stadium from Sept. 18-20, they lost two of three games in Minnesota from July 17-19. Twins first baseman Joe Mauer leads the team with a .305 batting average and .381 on-base percentage, while second baseman Brian Dozier has hit a team-high 33 home runs and 90 RBIs.
"They are another club with a lot of young talent,'' Girardi told King. "You look up and down that lineup and you are only going to see a couple of veterans in it. It's mostly a lot of young kids who have had really good years and have really grown up since last year and that's why they are where they are.''