The Yankees punched their ticket to the American League Championship Series and a date with the Houston Astro starting Wednesday thanks in large part to a number of big contributions from several key players.
When you look back at the American League Division Series win over the Cleveland Guardians the pitching of Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes was irreplaceable in the series, the timely hitting of Harrison Bader came in handy and of course, there was the home run swing of Giancarlo Stanton.
And you can’t forget the relief pitching the Yankees got out of the likes of Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes.
Trying to pick just one MVP for New York in this series would seem too unfair. Here are the three stars for the Yankees in their 3-1 best-of-five series victory over the Guardians.
3rd Star: Harrison Bader
The Bronxville native is the ultimate feel-good story for any young Yankees fan looking for inspiration for their major league dream. Bader grew up a Yankees fan and played a big part in getting the team back to the ALCS for the first time since 2019.
The outfielder walked twice in Game 5, but had come into the win-or-go-home matchup he had been one of their best hitters. He entered Tuesday’s game with a .286 batting average and 1.214 OPS in 14 plate appearances.
His three home runs and four RBIs aren’t too shabby either and his three-run shot in Game 4 was a big difference-maker in a win that got the Yanks the opportunity to play during the week.
“It means a lot, but it’s the same game,” Bader said about his contributions. “If I did it in the regular season it would mean just as much. You always take care of the baseball. You always execute your approach based upon your preparation. It’s the same game regardless of the emotion before it.”
2nd Star: Wandy Peralta
The Yankees reliever closed the door on the Guardians on Tuesday and throughout the series really. Peralta became the first Yankees pitcher to appear in all five ALDS games and the first since Tamp Bay Rays’ pitcher Collin Poche did it in 2019.
Peralta gave the Yankees exactly what they needed when he stepped onto the hill during the series. He finished with six innings of work over the course of the five games and allowed two runs on four hits in that span, while striking out seven batters that he faced.
“So exciting. You put so much work into this, into the whole season, and the assignment right there at that moment, like you said, just getting the last out, it’s hard to explain. It’s such an exciting moment being able to win there. Not enough words to describe,” Peralta said through a translator about playing such a big role in the series.
1st Star: Gerrit Cole
The Yankees ace was just that during the postseason and after weeks of debate over whether he should be the Game 1 starter, he proved why Boone had confidence in the starter. In both starts, Cole had his best stuff and worked Cleveland’s hitters. He finished the ALDS with 16 strikeouts and a 2.03 ERA through his starts in Game 1 and Game 4, both of which were Yankee victories.
Additionally, he gave up just three runs on 10 hits in that span. Cole raised fair questions during the end of the year with the number of home run balls that he had given up and when he gave them up in a game, and he did allow one in each start. However, they never manifested the same way they had in previous outings and his Yankees teammates found a way to get Cole the runs he needed.
All those questions about Cole that were asked before the start of the best-of-five with Clevland, won’t be asked again this time around.