The Yankees have known that any hope of a World Series appearance would require a rematch with Houston for some time, but they probably didn’t expect to start 0-3 against them. Nevertheless that’s where they are, and now they face the prospect of needing four straight wins in order to keep their season alive. That’s as daunting a task as you could ask for, but it only becomes possible if they take it one game at a time.
They face a tough opponent at the end of the Astros’ rotation in Lance McCullers Jr. The 29-year-old right-hander hasn’t been healthy for most of the season but he’s been highly effective once he returned to the mound, posting a 2.27 ERA in 47.2 innings, and he’s almost always shown up in the postseason for Houston. Given the Yankees’ level of success so far in this series, they have to make some major adjustments to stand a chance of surviving.
To that point, Aaron Boone has tweaked his lineup again going into Game 4. It’s mostly a reversion back to where we stood at the start of this series: Harrison Bader returns to the leadoff position, Giancarlo Stanton is back to being the designated hitter with Oswaldo Cabrera patrolling left field, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa gets the nod at shortstop.
Nasty Nestor on the mound. #RepBX— New York Yankees (@Yankees) October 23, 2022
Presented by @Delta pic.twitter.com/VEhuyigW1U
Many were disappointed that IKF got the start in Game 1 after being benched at the end of the ALDS, especially given Oswald Peraza’s inclusion on the roster after the series ended. It appears that Boone will go back to the well with Kiner-Falefa despite the standout defensive performance that Peraza showed in Game 2 — perhaps it’s marginal at best at this point, but because this may be the Yankees’ last game of 2022, IKF needs to show something here to deserve playing the full nine innings.
The other notable change is the absence of Matt Carpenter, who got the start at DH yesterday. It’s unfortunate for the veteran given his electric summer in pinstripes, but Carpenter has looked completely lost at the plate and it’s no surprise given the lengthy IL stint and lack of playing time before jumping into this series. Stanton will swing back into the DH role in his stead and cede left field to Cabrera, who hasn’t done much with the bat either but at least has shown that his versatile defense is legitimate.
Most of the Yankees’ cards have already been played, and they’ve lost every hand so far. They’ll have to go all-in here behind Nestor Cortes and finally provide their pitchers with some run support to even dream of keeping this series alive, or else the hot stove awaits them earlier than any of us would want. Will this lineup be the one to break the cold streak? Will we even get the game in? The weather is going to be spotty again, and we could be in the process of a long and drawn out night with the season on the line. Let us know what you think ahead of Game 4.