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Around the Empire: Yankees news — 9/29/2020

Series previews from FanGraphs and Curtis Granderson; Higashioka to catch Cole in Game 1; Yankees have yet to announce Wild Card roster

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

FanGraphs | Jay Jaffe: The New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians enter the playoffs with similar records (33-27 and 35-25, respectively) and a similar run differential (+45, +39), but beyond that, the two teams share very little in common. Cleveland relies on a strong pitching staff and defense, and the Yankees on a lineup that, albeit very streaky, lacks places to hide for a pitcher. Although acknowledging that “anything can happen in two or three games,” Jaffe predicts that the depth of the Yankees lineup will be able to score enough against the Cleveland pitching staff to squeak by the Indians.

Bleacher Report | Curtis Granderson: Former Yankee outfielder Curtis Granderson has joined the sports media world for the postseason, joining the TBS studio team covering playoff games. As part of that, he has penned, with the assistance of Adam Wells, a preview for the Yankees/Indians Wild Card matchup. Despite the team’s injury struggles and inconsistency this year, Granderson is high on the Yankees squad; however, he believes that they ended up with the short straw, as facing the Cleveland Indians — especially on the road, where the Yankees have struggled and which contains more restrictions than usual this year — represent possibly their worst matchup. “I see the Yankees with an early exit,” he writes, “losing the wild-card series in three games.”

ESPN | Marly Rivera: To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Kyle Higashioka will be getting the start tomorrow behind the plate, as the Yankees continue pairing him with ace Gerrit Cole. That does not mean, however, that Gary Sánchez has been benched — in fact, Aaron Boone told the media, the starting catcher was told to be ready for action in a big spot.

New York Daily News | Kristie Ackert: Technically speaking, Higashioka’s and Sánchez’s spots on the roster are two of the only players who are confirmed to be on the Yankees’ roster, along with announced starters Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka. While it’s obvious who most of the spots on the roster will go to, Aaron Boone told the media yesterday that they “were close to deciding it...and hope to finalize things later today and into this evening.” In particular, he noted that the team had yet to decide whether to carry 12 or 13 pitchers in the three-game set, and which bench players would be active.

Other notes in the article include Paxton’s status as a member of the taxi squad, due to the possibility that he might be ready in the later rounds of the playoffs as a reliever if the Yankees make it that far, and Matt Blake’s history within the Indians organization during the development of starters Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac.