With just over three weeks left in the regular season, it appears more likely than not that the A's and Yankees will face off in the American League Wild Card Game next month.
The A's took two of three from the Yankees this week at the Coliseum, evening the season series at three games apiece. So what did we learn about a potential Wild Card matchup?
While both the A's and Yankees boast tremendous bullpens, neither team has great starting pitching, as evidenced by this series. Only one of New York's three starters even got out of the fourth inning, and Oakland had to try "bullpenning" in the middle game of the series.
If these clubs do meet in a winner-take-all scenario, expect them both to turn to their bullpens as soon as possible. The Yankees' pen has the third-best ERA in the majors, while Oakland's ranks fourth.
That means taking an early lead would be even more important than usual. If one team trails even after four innings, it would be difficult to come back.
It's important to remember that this week's Yankees lineup is far different than the one the A's likely would see in the playoffs. New York was without two key pieces on offense: Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius. With those two sluggers back in the order, the Yankees obviously are a much more dangerous team.
New York also was without All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman, currently on the 10-day DL with left knee tendinitis. If he were able to return for the playoffs, it would add even more depth to the Yankees' already terrific bullpen.
Of course the A's have plenty of injury issues of their own, mainly in the starting rotation. Brett Anderson is on track to return sometime next week, but Sean Manaea might not pitch again this season.
There might not be two more different ballparks than Yankee Stadium and the Coliseum. With short porches in right and left field, Yankee Stadium is the ultimate hitter's park. Khris Davis might hit 100 home runs if he played half his games there.
On the other hand, the Coliseum is quite the pitcher's park, with all the foul territory and deep outfield walls. On Wednesday night, the Yankees hit a few deep fly balls that would have been home runs in the Bronx. In Oakland, they were routine outs.
If the Yankees can hold on to their 3 1/2-game lead over the A's, the Wild Card Game would be played in New York. If that's the case, it will be even more important for pitchers to keep the ball down in the zone and avoid fly balls. Of course, that's easier said than done against this offense. The Bronx Bombers lead MLB with 228 homers this season, while the A's rank third with 192.
Perhaps most importantly, we learned that a postseason matchup between these teams would be a lot of fun. Both clubs hit for great power, and both have dominant bullpens. By definition, a winner-take-all game produces a great deal of drama, but the Yankees and A's would have the potential for a head-spinning roller-coaster ride.
Imagine Wednesday's first inning in a Wild Card Game scenario: The Yankees loading the bases but failing to score. The A's exploding for four runs, aided by two wild pitches and two passed balls. Look at Monday's early innings, when the teams went back and forth, trading uppercuts on the scoreboard.
Obviously both the A's and Yankees still have their eyes on winning their respective divisions. But a wild card matchup certainly would be a nice consolation prize.