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Around the Empire: Yankees News - 10/12/19

Tanaka gets the ball to start the ALCS; How the Yanks should handle Aaron Hicks; this year’s Yankees are much better than 2017.

MLB: ALDS-Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Post | Ken Davidoff: The ALCS kicks off tonight, and the starting rotation is set. Masahiro Tanaka, noted clutch playoff performer, gets the ball in Game One, followed by James Paxton and Luis Severino. Tanaka expressed confidence based on his excellent performance against Houston two years ago in the 2017 ALCS. Throwing Tanaka first also would allow him to start at Yankee Stadium in a potential Game Five instead of forcing him to start twice on the road, where he’s struggled this season.

New York Post | Ken Davidoff: Aaron Hicks has surprisingly thrown himself into the mix for a spot on the ALCS roster, and if the outfielder is healthy, he should be a factor in the series. Hicks has the ability to make the Yankees a better team, and whether it’s replacing Luke Voit, Cameron Maybin or Tyler Wade, he should be given a chance to show what he did for much of last season.

WFAN | Sweeny Murti: The 2017 Yankees were a very good team, but the Astros had home field, and it proved to be the difference in that ALCS. This year could be different, because this Yankees team is different. It’s a better team, significantly better when you compare the 2019 lineup side-by-side with the 2017 product. In short, when you replace Starlin Castro with Gleyber Torres, you’ve already upgraded big time.

New York Times | James Wagner: James writes a great piece here about the mental changes Gary Sanchez has made this year, both at the plate and behind it. Staying present and not stewing in past failures has helped Sanchez return to the star he was in 2016 and 2017, and that could bode well for the Yankees for the rest of the postseason.