With six games remaining things are close to certain for the Yankees as to where they stand in the playoff picture. They can clinch their first postseason berth since 2012 with a win tonight and losses by the Twins and Angels. They're going to be in a one game playoff with the only question being who will it be against. It's hard to say which team you want to play in a one game playoff because one game in baseball can be so random, which is why the idea of a one game playoff is silly. The Yankees scored 21 runs in one game against Texas and allowed 11 runs to the Philadelphia Phillies twice. Baseball should be about the 162 game grind. However, the one game playoff is good for drama and ratings, so it stays.
The Houston Astros are a 1/2 game ahead of the Los Angeles Angels and 1.5 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins. This is probably the best case scenario for the Yankees if it stays this close. The Yankees will be able to rest players if they clinch, and some of their hitters look like they can use it right now. They already have their ace Masahiro Tanaka lined up for the game.
Meanwhile, if the race for the second wild card comes down to the last game of the season the opposition will not be able to set up their rotations. This is especially important against the Astros, who can line up either Dallas Keuchel or Scott Kazmir. Keuchel has shut the Yankees out twice this season and avoiding him at all costs in a one game playoff is key. The Astros have been the worst team out of the three in the second half of the year, but with Keuchel on the mound they're just a different team. Kazmir would be tough as well because losing Mark Teixeira has made the Yankees even more vulnerable against left-handed pitching.
The Angels do not have a lefty like Keuchel or Kazmir. Hector Santiago's 3.52 ERA looks good on he surface, but his 5.02 xFIP and his 32.6 percent hard hit ball rate tell a different story. Also, his 53.7 percent fly ball rate is not a good thing for Yankee Stadium. Garrett Richards is the best pitcher for the Angels, but he has not been nearly as good as his CY Young caliber season last year.
Clearly what scares you about the Angels is Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Either one of them could win one game on their backs. We already saw Trout do that against the Yankees this season in one game when he robbed Chris Young of those two scorched doubles. The Angels have nobody else who really scares you, so the obvious plan is not to let those two beat you. That's easier said then done considering that's probably everybody's plan when they play the Angels.
It seems unlikely that the Twins would be able to pass two teams, but nobody expected them to make it even close to the playoffs, so you never know. Miguel Sano is a monster and Brian Dozier is a powerful bat, but with the Yankees' dominance over the Twins and the fact that they have no dominant starter they would be the obvious team you would want to play.
The Astros would seem like a good matchup for Tanaka and if they can avoid Keuchel or Kazmir you would probably pick them over the Angels. They strike out at a 23.7 percent clip against righties, which is the second highest mark in MLB. They're a lot like the Yankees in that they're build on home runs, but they do not walk as much as the Yankees. The Astros are free swingers who would seem like good candidates to be swinging over a lot of Tanaka splitters. The Yankees would also have a big edge in experience, though who knows how much that matters. As a home run hitting team you would think the Astros like to feast on fastballs, which Tanaka does not rely on. Of course all of this could mean nothing and the Astros could cream Tanaka like they did in Houston. It's one game after all.