After a wild win on Tuesday, the Yankees will now face the Cleveland Indians in a best of five division series matchup. New York announced their starters yesterday, giving us a sense of who will be used and when we can expect to see them pitch.
The Yankees have officially announced that Sonny Gray will pitch Game 1 at Progressive Field tonight, with CC Sabathia starting Game 2 on Friday. It has also been reported that Masahiro Tanaka will start Game 3 once the series moves back to Yankee Stadium. This leaves Luis Severino to start Game 4.
Terry Francona has also announced Cleveland’s rotation, and it’s a bit odd. Trevor Bauer will start Game 1 and Corey Kluber will pitch Game 2 on normal rest. Carlos Carrasco is expected to pitch in Game 3 and Josh Tomlin will pitch Game 4. Kluber is said to be waiting to pitch on regular rest for Game 5, but you have to imagine he could pitch Game 4 if things become bleak for them.
With all this in mind, let’s talk about the implications for each member of the Yankees’ playoff rotation:
Starting Sonny Gray in Game 1 not only sets him up to go twice in this series, it also ensures that he doesn’t have to pitch at Yankee Stadium. He’s pitched well since the trade, but his home run rate has skyrocketed since coming over from Oakland. After what happened Tuesday night, early home runs cannot happen again.
It’s been awhile now since CC Sabathia has been the team’s ace, but Joe Girardi has seemingly put a lot of faith in him by having him go up against Kluber in Game 2. Hopefully he will be able to keep up. It’s also a good idea to keep him, and his 1.27 HR/9, out of Yankee Stadium if they can.
Having Masahiro Tanaka start third is kind of shocking here. He’s clearly not The Guy anymore after a tough season at times. However, he finished with a strong final start and he has the kind of stuff that can stifle any offense if he’s on. It’s scary to think he will have to pitch in the Bronx, but he’s actually done a lot better in Yankee Stadium than anywhere else. Giving him extra rest, though, will be the key to success.
After Tuesday’s start barely counted, you would have expected Luis Severino’s name to be at the top of the ALDS rotation—and yet here we are. Severino will be the fourth pitcher on the list, meaning there’s a chance he might not pitch in this series. You know he wants another chance to redeem himself, but with the game set at Yankee Stadium, they are setting him up for another home run barrage.
The key to the Yankees winning this series might be to beat the Indians before they have to face Kluber twice. That’s likely inevitable no matter how things go, so the pitching needs to do a better job at limiting home runs. The bullpen can’t pitch 8.2 innings every night.