Yankees: Complex Pitching Decisions Await As A Wild Card Team

Yankees Gerrit Cole on fire 2021

The Yankees, try as they might, will probably not chase down the Rays for the AL East title. So what will their rotation be as a Wild Card?

The Yankees, losers of three straight while Tampa Bay extended their win streak, are now a full seven games behind in the AL East Standings.

With help from the competition, the Yankees have been able to maintain their two-game lead in the Wild Card race, and more and more it’s looking that’s where the team will land this year.

As we know, MLB has the playoff schedule set for the two Wild Card finishers in each league colliding for a one-game shootout that determines the one team that moves on to face a division winner.

Yankees: There’s Only One Given

Gerrit Cole was brought here to be The Guy on the Yankees pitching staff entrusted with starting the game; the team had to win at any level of playoffs competition.

Two Yankees Pillars: Gerrit Cole and Aaron Boone
Two Yankees Pillars: Gerrit Cole and Aaron Boone

Cole will pitch the one-game shootout against the other Wild Card team (currently the Red Sox) – unless the Yankees need him to pitch the season’s final game against the Rays to recover from losing the lead they have now.

In either event, what happens after Cole, and who do the Yankees turn to start in the next best-of-three playoff series?

The AL Wild Card game is scheduled for Tuesday, October 3. Assuming they win, the Yankees have a day off before the division series begins on Thursday.

While not productive, Corey Kluber‘s outing last night did complete the Yankee’s goal of having him pitch through four innings and 68 pitches.

With no setbacks, Kluber will get four more starts in September to build up his arm strength, and if all goes well, he is the likely choice of Aaron Boone to start game one, based solely on pedigree and playoff experience.

Yankees: A Plethora Of Choices

After that, however, things get complex. There are variables galore, such as the outcome of game one, lefty-righty considerations, records against the opponent, and so on.

A Yankee with some spirit - Jordan Montgomery (NY Post)
A Yankee with some spirit – Jordan Montgomery (NY Post)

But Jordan Montgomery, as one of the Yankees’ fiercest competitors, has earned the right to start game two.

It’s a toss-up then for Boone between Nestor Cortes Jr. and Jameson Taillon as to which man is on standby for long relief, with the other kept in reserve for game three (if needed).

In theory, however, Gerrit Cole would be available to work game three, scheduled for Sunday, October 10, but he would be on four days rest, something Cole would relish to manage.

The trouble for Boone and Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake, though, is they can only press one button each time, and with the staff so equally capable, they will always be subject to the second-guessing asking why did you go with X instead of Y?

Yankees: Will The Offense Show Up?

Yankees Giancarlo Stanton now uses his glove
Yankees Giancarlo Stanton now uses his glove

We haven’t mentioned the other half of the equation, though, which is the Yankees offense and what they will produce – or not produce.

Both Joey Gallo and Andrew Velazquez (if he makes the postseason roster) will be making their playoffs debut.

While the Yankees have been known in recent years to lose their bats in October, the play of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge raises the hope this year will be different.

The Yankees bullpen matches up with anyone, and Aaron Boone will do his usual thing in not hesitating to bring in his go-to guys (Chad Green, Jonathan Loiasiga, Clay Holmes, and yes, even Aroldis Chapman in the wake of his past playoffs failures.

Yankees: Wild Card Home Field At Stake

Jameson Taillon gets the call tonight to face the Angels as the Yankees need to get the wheels back on after losing three straight.

The bottom of the Yankees lineup has not been showing up, and that needs correction immediately. Look for Boone to find a way to get Tyler Wade, who has lost playing time to Velazquez, back in there, along with Luke Voit in the DH role.

Finishing in the top Wild Card spot means the one-game shootout will be played at Yankee Stadium, and that alone is something to keep fighting for…

Here’s What Readers Are Saying…

Steven Kenworthy Had the Yankees played a more respectable first half, they wouldn’t be chasing the Rays.

Daniel Haiar To further elaborate, this team cannot compete with Giants, Dodgers, Astros, Rays…so I mean, it’s over. It will be a long time before we win another title, shame but Yankees’ ways are something of the past, teams don’t even fear us anymore…or hate us as much. we really lost who we were somehow, front office, coaching, or maybe just the times but it’s over.

Bruce Sadler Throw your best pitcher and worry about the next round if you get beat then there is nothing to worry about you have till April of 2022

Dan Minehan WC Game is Single Elimination, and we don’t want it played in Fenway!

Dave Waxman Definitely Cole in the WC even though he hasn’t been great against the Red Sox. Then Taillon. Then Nestor Cortes in the ALDS. Yankees are not winning the division being 7 games out. Would have not only to count on another winning streak, but the Rays have to collapse, which they won’t.

Myron Rubin First let’s get to the wild card. I really have more confidence in Gil than I have in anyone in the Yankee rotation except Cole or Taillon. If we win the wild card against Boston they have to face Tampa without Cole for the first couple of games I think we are in trouble.

Chad Landsman Monty, Taillon, and Nester have all pitched well and if Cole must win that 1 game show, so be it. Go with your best SP and let the rest work out. Yankees problems in the postseason have been because their hitters outside of DJ pretty much were shut down by other teams’ SP. Hopefully, with this new crew, it will change.

Closing Published Comments And Final Thoughts

With this, we’ll close published comments in this one. With the exception of Cole starting The Big One, readers are split as to who should follow. September will decide.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.