The Yankees and Twins might have ranked similarly during the regular season regarding offensive production, placing them first and second in runs scored and home runs, but during the postseason it has become clear that the Yankees’ offense is superior to that of the Twins. This difference has allowed the Bombers to take a two-game lead into Minnesota, as they look to sweep the series with Luis Severino on the mound. However, the success of offensive production hasn’t been the only difference this postseason compared to 2018.
Aaron Boone has had an incredible regular season. He took an injury battered team, retooled them, created an environment that has allowed each replacement to succeed, and led the Yankees towards 103 wins. After all, they clinched the AL East with almost no production from Luis Severino, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, and Dellin Betances. Now Boone is once again back to the postseason and just like we saw him make changes during the regular season, we are starting to see the changes he has made towards his postseason approach.
First, Boone has proven to have a shorter leash on his starting pitchers this time around as well with the relievers. He knows his bullpen is one of the strengths of the team and this postseason he’s relentlessly swapping out relievers at any sign of trouble. Unlike the last ALDS during Game 3, when Severino was struggling and Boone surprisingly decided to go with Lance Lynn, it safe to say a long relief pitcher won’t enter into a high leverage situation again this postseason. After James Paxton pitched 4.2 innings, Adam Ottavino came into to face Nelson Cruz, Ottavino walked Cruz, then Boone wasted no time going to another reliever to face the left-handed swinging Eddie Rosario. Additionally, even with a six run lead Boone took absolutely no chances in letting the Twins back into the game going with Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman to end it.
If the Yankees did not take a significant lead last night before the eighth inning the plan would have been to split the last three innings between Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Boone said. Maybe four outs for one, five for the other, etc.— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) October 5, 2019
It looks like Boone will not be as patient as before with the bullpen and is letting them loose. He is also letting runners loose as well. With a 7-4 lead in Game One, Boone called for a double steal with Cameron Maybin and Gleyber Torres on the bases, showing an aggressive approach on the base paths as well, compared to last postseason when the Yankees stole zero bases in four games. In Game Two, Cameron Maybin was also substituted for Stanton. This might not seem like a big change because last season Miguel Andujar would be substituted late in games as well. However, this could be a good strategy if Stanton continues to lay off bad pitches and draw his walks—then Maybin can enter the game and steal some bases.
The Minnesota Twins have very little margin for error during the remainder of this series and now have added pressure on their offense to produce even more because their bullpen has not been able to stop the Bombers. On top of that, they have now seen how aggressively the Yankees are going about managing run prevention. Twins hitters will consistently have to adjust to new pitchers like Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, and Aroldis Chapman who all have K/9 rates over 11.0, and Zack Britton who produces ground at 77.2% according to FanGraphs.
Considering Severino starts Game Three in Minnesota, there will be no break for the Twins. Elite arm after elite arm will be brought to the mound by the Yankees, and with the added factor of speed late in games with Maybin or Tyler Wade if needed, their defense has to be on guard too. The Yankees are in great shape this series, and with their aggressive approach this postseason it’s looking like it will be another quick exit for the Twins.