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Yankees reveal ALDS Game 1 lineup

Home run hero Aaron Judge leads off the ALDS opener against Cleveland.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

As we sit just hours before first pitch of the first game of the Yankees’ Division Series matchup against the Cleveland Guardians, the sense of anticipation is building. The Bronx can’t wait to host its first playoff game since before the beginning of the pandemic. Two other postseason runs have happened since then, but the first took place at a neutral site in San Diego and the second was a one-game dud at Fenway Park. The last playoff highlights at Yankee Stadium involved James Paxton shoving and a ballpark-shaking homer by Aaron Hicks; in short, that feels like a lifetime ago.

At 7:37 pm ET though, we’ll have ALDS action in the Bronx. The rosters have been announced (sadly sans Scott Effross and Oswald Peraza, for different reasons), and Gerrit Cole will square off with Cal Quantrill in Game 1. If you’re looking for game previews, Jake did an excellent job of breaking down the pitching matchups in his look ahead at the series, and Peter offered a glimpse into how the Yankees might attack Quantrill (he also offered some thoughts on Cole’s Game 1 plan). The Pinstripe Alley staff’s full Division Series predictions are here.

But which Yankees hitters will step into the batter’s box against Quantrill? Aaron Boone’s Game 1 lineup is out:

For anyone who followed the Yankees down the stretch in particular, this group shouldn’t be surprising (and we already knew that Gerrit Cole would get the ball in Game 1). Even if this exact lineup hasn’t been used before, this full team has indeed played together.

As expected, likely MVP Aaron Judge will lead off with Anthony Rizzo right behind him, giving the Yankees an immediate one-two power punch of dudes who combined for 94 homers this year. Gleyber Torres reestablished his credentials after a dismal August slump with a surging September, and he is back near the top in a key spot as the No. 3 hitter while looking to bolster his already-impressive .988 career playoff OPS in 22 games.

DH Giancarlo Stanton returns to the cleanup spot after being moved down a bit while through a post-IL skid toward the end of the season. As Andrés noted earlier today, he homered in each of his last three games and looked a little better, so he’s back at cleanup. Like Torres, Stanton has also raked in his playoff appearances from 2018-21, and he has 9 homers in 18 games with a 1.108 OPS.

Josh Donaldson hit in the middle of the order in 101 games of the Yankees’ season, but the former MVP has fallen short of expectations at the plate in his age-36 season. So while his excellent glove at the hot corner has him in the lineup, his 94 OPS+ bat is only good enough for sixth. Instead, the man batting fifth is someone who we probably few would have foreseen in that spot just a couple months ago: Oswaldo Cabrera. The rookie has been completely unfazed by the spotlight and has really impressed the Yankees with his quality at-bats since coming up to the majors on August 17th. Now, we’ll see how the 23-year-old handles postseason play.

The bottom of the order is where things gets a little dicey, as Josh detailed yesterday. The 7-8-9 of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jose Trevino, and Harrison Bader gets points on defense (or at least the Yankees and DRS give IKF points on defense), but leaves a lot to be desired at bat. Kiner-Falefa is only productive when his groundballs find holes, Trevino has been mired in a second-half slump, and Bader hasn’t hit since debuting in pinstripes in September. As Bucky Dent and José Vizcaíno have proved in the past though, light hitters can sometimes find their moments anyway, so you never know. Midseason slugger Matt Carpenter is fresh off the 60-day IL and on the roster too, so he could end up providing a big pinch-hit too.

What do you think of the lineup? Will they get the job done against Quantrill? Let us know.