Keys to a Game 5 victory
It's winner take all between the Yankees and the Rays tonight, lets discuss what the Yankees need to do to bring home the win.
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Score First and score often
As much as we all enjoy having that burning pit in our stomachs, the Yankees need to take the pressure off early. They must score first and take advantage of their opportunities to tack on. Its game 5 and all hands are available for both squads. The Rays are starting Tyler Glasnow after he threw 80+ pitches just three days ago. Its very possible that they use Blake Snell as well. They will be going to their bullpen early and often and that is a dangerous prospect against this team. Kevin Cash has bragged about his “stable of guys” and they are not to be underestimated. If the Yankees get near the end of the game trailing, they will see Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo and Peter Fairbanks. They need to avoid this scenario by scoring early and often and holding the lead. Giancarlo Stanton provided all the offense against Glasnow in game 2, they will need others to step up and cash in when they have runners in scoring position. Tonight would be the perfect time for Aaron Judge to make his mark on this series.
All hands on deck
The Yankees will run out the same lineup for game 5 as they did for game 4 which includes Brett Gardner starting in left field and Kyle Higashioka behind the plate as Gerrit Cole’s “personal catcher”. Higgy has played more than Gary Sanchez lately and he has played well, even hitting a home run in this series. They will surely need more of that from the starters, but if need be, they’ll have Gary on the bench as well as Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade and even Mike Ford or Mike Tauchman. In a close game, crazy things could happen. The Rays are one the best small ball teams in the league and you don’t want to get into a chess match with them. This bench group provides a good mix of speed, power and defense to pull from should Aaron Boone need a pinch hitter, pinch runner or defensive replacement as the game wears on. Boone is at his best managing when he does not try to get cute and outsmart the other team, lets hope that we only see one of these guys if its absolutely necessary.
Whatever you can get from Gerrit Cole
The ideal scenario would be for Gerrit to shut down the Rays for six or even seven innings and then hand the ball to the Green-Britton-Chapman trio. All three were dominant in closing out game 4 and those are the only three relievers I would like to see tonight. The rest of the Yankee bullpen has been a mixed bag this series and really all season long. This will be Gerrit’s first career outing on fewer than four days of rest but he has said repeatedly that is ready. Games like this are why starting pitchers get paid and the Yankees will need to get whatever they can from him. The Rays scored three off Cole in game 1 via home runs from Ji Man Choi and Randy Arozarena. Homers have been the only thing Cole has struggled with consistently this season, if he can keep the Rays in the park, he’ll have a damn good shot at getting to the bullpen with a lead.
Aaron Boone & the bullpen
In the event that Gerrit Cole does not bridge the gap all the way to the main bullpen guys, or if he blows up and they need several innings covered, Aaron Boone’s decisions will be extremely important. The non-Green-Britton-Chapman guys have all been suspect at times and a game 5 is not the time to get cute. With the ALCS scheduled to start on Sunday, you might need to hold out one starter but otherwise, everyone should be available. While Green, Britton and Chapman all pitched at least one inning in game 4, all will be available tonight with Chapman likely for more than three outs considering his light workload this series. I could see Boone bringing in Deivi Garcia if they need multiple innings covered. JA Happ or Masahiro Tanaka would also likely be available. Of the other guys in the pen, Adam Ottavino might be the only other guy Boone could trust. He hasn’t been as unusable as last postseason, but he does not hold runners well and that could lead to issues. If it’s a blowout you might see Jonathan Holder or Luis Cessa. So, while everyone should be available, Boone can not afford to get cute. Sometimes he tries to steal outs and save arms for later in the game but that cannot happen tonight. If they have the lead, he must go for the kill.
Get Randy Arozarena out
The Rays have been tough on the Yankees this season and few more so than Arozarena. He had a strong regular season and has continued it throughout the postseason, with his playoff batting average sitting at an even .500. He accounted for eight hits and three home runs in the first three games of this series. The Yankees were finally able to hold him hitless on their way to shutting down the Rays in game 4 and that will be key again in game 5. Arozarena has energized this Rays team and while they do have other threats in their lineup, he has been their most dangerous hitter throughout the series. While teams haven’t strung together many hits against Gerrit Cole this season, they cannot afford to give up opportunities for Arozarena to hurt them. They must keep the Rays best hitter off base if they are to repeat their game 4 performance and shut down this team.
Article by Matt GrazianoFollow @mattgraz930