After a Thrilling Win on Sunday, the Yankees are Playoff Bound
Through all the troubles and frustrations in this Yankees season, the time is finally here. Playoffs. Thanks to the first ever walk off hit in the career of Aaron Judge, the Yankees beat the Rays in Game 162 to give the Bombers a playoff berth and send them to the Wild Card Game.
|Photo Credit: New York Yankees via Twitter|
The Yanks will head to Boston on Tuesday, October 5th to take on the Red Sox in the one-game Wild Card.
The first winner-take-all game that the rivals have played against each other since the 2004 American League Championship Series, there is a lot to unpack before 8:08 PM comes around on Tuesday.
The starting pitchers for both sides have already been announced. Gerrit Cole will take the hill for the Bombers, and Nathan Eovaldi will get the nod for the Red Sox.
For the Yankees, it seems that they will lean to Kyle Higashioka to do the catching tomorrow for Cole, as Cole has proven more comfortable with Higashioka. You have to take in the struggles of Gary Sanchez as of late to understand this decision by Aaron Boone.
Kyle Higashioka is expected to catch Gerrit Cole tomorrow, Aaron Boone says. Gary Sánchez is most likely to be available as an option off the bench.— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) October 4, 2021
The catching situation is an important thought, but there are questions all over the field, specifically the infield. DJ Lemahieu was added to the 10-day IL on Sunday, so the Yankees will be without him on Tuesday. They also are without Luke Voit who was added to the 60-day IL this weekend. His season is done regardless of how far this team advances. Gio Urshela, who made an unbelievable catch falling into the Rays dugout, gave a little scare to Yankee fans and personnel. He is fine and expected to play Tuesday, however, according to Aaron Boone.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) October 3, 2021
Boone will have a decision to make at third base, assuming that Urshela does play. Between Tyler Wade, Rougned Odor, and Andrew Velasquez, one of the three will have to play alongside Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, and Urshela in the infield. Odor has played a lot lately in spot of these injuries, so you have to expect that Boone will go to him. If Urshela does not play, Boone probably goes to Tyler Wade to fill in that last spot in the infield.
That leaves Velasquez and Wade as the lone infielders on the bench for the Wild Card. Brett Gardner most likely starts alongside Aaron Judge and Joey Gallo in the outfield with Giancarlo Stanton as the DH.
With only one game though, Boone will not need the same amount of pitchers that he normally would, leaving room for extra hitters like Estevan Florial, Miguel Andujar, Greg Allen, Ryan Lamarre or Chris Gittens. With the injuries, the Yankees are going to need the insurance of extra help off the bench.
You also have to think about the option of a third catcher. Rob Brantly could be added to the roster for emergency purposes for the game.
Expect the Yankees to have 10 or 11 pitchers on the roster, leaving off starters who won't be needed, like Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, and Nestor Cortes, who all just pitched this weekend.
Any other pitcher is fair game, even Corey Kluber, who could be a good emergency option for the Bombers during the Wild Card Game. Perhaps the Yankees roll the dice with Cortes on three-days rest, but they likely see him as their ALDS Game One starter should they advance that far.
Boone will for sure leave his ace on the mound for as long as possible, but there are a lot of good options that he can go to following Cole. Luis Severino and Michael King for long relief, then Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loaisiga, Chad Green, and Aroldis Chapman in the backend would be the ideal situation for Boone to have.
Gary will be the first bat off the bench given that Higashioka starts, and will definitely get an at-bat before the end of the game. Wade coming in for speed and defense first opportunity is to be expected as well.
So with all of this in line, there is a lot to consider for what the Wild Card Game roster will look like. I assume 15 hitters (Judge, Stanton, Gallo, Gardner, Urshela, Rizzo, Torres, Sanchez, Higashioka, Odor, Wade, Velasquez, Brantly, Allen, Florial) and 11 pitchers (Cole, Cortes, Severino, Chapman, Green, Loaisiga, Holmes, King, Peralta, Rodriguez, German).
There is a lot still to happen and a lot that can still happen before first pitch on Tuesday. It is going to be an exciting time for Yankees fans, so buckle up and come along for the ride.
Article by: Matt Zumbolo