The Yankees will have to secure a win in Friday's Game 2 of the ALDS against arguably the league's best pitcher, Corey Kluber, after getting manhandled by Game 1 starter Trevor Bauer.
The Yankees, like any visiting club in a postseason series, desire a road win to go home with a chance to win the series without having to head back on the road. On paper, it seemed the Yankees' best shot at a victory in Cleveland was in Game 1 with Bauer on the mound, knowing Kluber was set for Game 2. The Yankees offense failed miserably, and the road will be rather difficult to navigate Friday afternoon.
Historically, the Yankees do not fare well against Kluber.
The right-hander is 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA against them in seven career starts (50 innings). The Yankees have managed a mere .580 OPS in those starts. As a group, the current collection of Yankees have hit just .155 in 148 at-bats against Kluber. In 2017, Kluber is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA against the Yankees, whose batters hit just .105 against him. Looking up and down the Yankees' potential lineup, only Jacoby Ellsbury (5-for-19) has had even moderate success against Kluber.
It may sound simplistic, but the Yankees batters will need to be more selective and aggressive when appropriate against Kluber than they were against Bauer. New York was completely off balance in Game 1 -- both flailing and staring -- at Bauer offerings. The Yankees will have to lay off pitches outside of the zone and be ready to barrel up anything in the heart of the strike zone.
Kluber is good because he doesn't make very many mistakes, so it is minimally imperative that the Yankees work counts into their favor. They must manufacture as many five-pitch or higher plate appearances so that Kluber has to come into the strike zone, not live outside it.
If the Yankees are able to somehow get Kluber to the 100-pitch mark in the fifth or sixth inning and hold or sit within a run or two at most, New York could do some damage against the Indians' bullpen, which may receive diminished production from Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, who both pitched in Game 1.
If anything, the Yankees would face significantly inferior pitchers -- regardless of who enters as Kluber departs -- for the rest of the game.
A good deal of Game 2 hinges on Yankees starter CC Sabathia sticking with Kluber, but if the Yankees fail to work at-bats, manufacture base-runners, and squeak across a couple of runs it won't matter.