The stakes are about as high as they can get for MLB’s greatest rivalry. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will meet Tuesday night in the 2021 AL Wild-Card Game with a trip to the American League Division Series on the line.

There’s little separation between the two teams. The Yankees and Red Sox finished with identical 92-70 records in the regular season. Boston barely won the season series against New York with a 10-9 head-to-head record. 

The Yankees have a six-game winning streak against the Red Sox, including a three-game sweep at Fenway Park just a little over a week ago. Despite playing at home, Boston is a slight underdog in Tuesday’s playoff game. 

New York is a -120 favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook. Boston has +102 betting odds to win and clinch an ALDS matchup with the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays. 

The pitching matchup should favor the Yankees. New York has ace Gerrit Cole taking the mound on six days’ rest. For Boston, it’ll be Nathan Eovaldi getting the start

Cole finished third in the AL with a 3.23 ERA. His 1.06 WHIP and 243 strikeouts were good for second among AL starters. Cole will almost certainly finish in the top-five in the AL Cy Young voting for a fourth straight season. The Yankees gave the right-hander a record-setting nine-year, $324 million contract for moments just like this. 

Those numbers haven’t meant much when Cole has faced Boston in a New York uniform. The 31-year-old is 2-2 against the Red Sox this season with a 4.91 ERA in 22 innings. 

Cole picked up a victory in Boston on Sept. 24, allowing three runs in six innings. Eovaldi took the loss in that contest, giving up seven runs while failing to make it out of the third inning.

That loss is Eovaldi’s one blemish against the Yankees. In five previous starts against his former team this season, Eovaldi never gave up more than two runs. 

 

 

The Yankees’ active roster has a combined .250 batting average against Eovaldi in 172 at-bats. If you remove Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton from the equation, New York’s hitters have just a .224 average and a pair of homers off Boston’s starter.

It was Judge and Stanton who carried the Yankees during their recent sweep at Fenway Park. New York probably won’t win without more heroics from the two sluggers.

DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit are on the injured list, and Gio Urshela was shaken up in the regular-season finale. Joey Gallo is hitting just .160 as a Yankee. Gary Sanchez hit .170 in September and is 0-7 in October.

New York has the edge in the bullpen with a 3.56 ERA from its relievers, which ranks second in all of baseball. Boston is sixth with a 3.99 bullpen ERA.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone hasn’t always pushed the right buttons when making important pitching changes. Boone was thoroughly outmanaged by Boston’s Alexa Cora when the rivals met in the 2018 ALDS.

Eovaldi beat the Yankees in Game 3 of that series. The circumstances might be set up for him to lead Boston past New York, once again. 

Prediction: Boston over New York, 4-3

Gerrit Cole Yankees Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees in action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on September 16, 2020 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 13-2. Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images