ALDS Game 1 Lineup Prediction
The Yankees have completed the regular season, closing out 2019 with a record of 103-59. Next up: ALDS Game 1 against the Minnesota Twins. Coming off a 101-win season of their own, the Twins will not be easy, so New York can’t afford to look ahead to a potential ALCS meeting with the Astros. With that in mind, it’s time to look at who will crack the starting lineup on Friday.
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1. 1B DJ LeMahieu
DJ LeMahieu is a lock to be leading off this game, and every other game for the rest of the postseason, the only question is what position he will play. LeMahieu’s versatility allows Boone to fill the rest of the infield with whomever he wants, keeping everyone else at their main position. He will begin the postseason at first base.
2. RF Aaron Judge
Another obvious choice, Judge will bat second and play right field. Assuming he is healthy, Judge will play right field and bat second every single game this postseason. No question here.
3. C Gary Sanchez
This is really the first decision that needs to be made. The Yankees have multiple good options that could hit behind Judge. Ultimately Sanchez ends up batting third. He’s had 29 games in this spot in 2019, hitting .270 with 12 homers.
4. LF Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton battled injuries for most of 2019 but is finally healthy. Since his return from the IL on September 18, he’s slashed .286/.382/.571 with two homers. If he has a good postseason, look for people to forget all about his injury-riddled 2019 campaign and rough 2018 ALDS vs. Boston.
5. SS Didi Gregorius
This is where Boone decides to break up the righties. Gregorius has struggled overall this season, but his lefty bat and defense get him in the lineup. Further, Gregorius feasted on Twins’ pitching this season. Albeit a small sample size, Didi had eight hits (five XBH) and 10 RBIs in just 10 at-bats.
6. DH Edwin Encarnacion
Encarnacion’s biggest concern entering the postseason is the health of his oblique. He could not make it back in time to get any at-bats before the season ended but is hoping to play in sim games before Friday. If healthy, Encarnacion would be a great boost to the lineup.
7. 2B Gleyber Torres
Seven almost seems too low for Torres, but it shows how great this lineup really is. Torres had a great 2019 season but struggled at the finish, which is part of the reason why he is not batting higher. He slashed .237/.259/.500 during the month of September. If Torres heats up again, he could be someone who moves up the lineup as the postseason moves on.
8. 3B Gio Urshela
Urshela’s magical 2019 season continues with a start in game 1 of the postseason. His stellar defense and timely hitting made him the face of the “Next Man Up” movement that defined so much of the regular season. It is also why he gets the start over Luke Voit as the fourth infielder. He sprained his ankle the last day of the regular season, but the team didn't seem too concerned about it keeping him out of any games in October.
9. CF Brett Gardner
Gardner closes out the lineup, batting ninth in center field. The 36-year-old had a career year in 2019, posting personal bests in home runs (28), RBIs (74), and OPS (.829) all while being a clubhouse leader and playing strong defense from multiple outfield spots. He is the perfect man to turn the lineup back over to the top.
SP James Paxton
Although it has not been officially announced, perhaps due to his injury-shortened start on September 27th, it would be pretty shocking if Paxton did not start Game 1. In 61 innings since August 2, Paxton has a 2.51 ERA while striking out 69 batters. Over the final two months of the season Paxton has been the Ace the Yankees thought they traded for and he will get the chance to show that again Friday.
Article By: Mark Ciano