Yankees: Surprise, Surprise – It’s Not Cole And It’s Not A Bullpen Game

Jameson Taillon - The Chosen One (NY Daily News)

The Yankees came to a fork in the road for today’s deciding game, and they are taking the road less traveled. Who would guess it’s Taillon?

The Yankees have spurned the elephant in the room, Gerrit Cole, for today’s do-or-die game against the Rays, electing instead to save him for a game that may never be.

At the same time, Aaron Boone, who may or may not have received direction from upstairs, also spurned a bullpen game by the Yankees, a bullpen that has been the foundation of their success this season.

Either choice, seemingly the most obvious ones before the announcement was made that Jameson Taillon is their designated starter today, adds icing on the cake for what has been the Yankees wildest ride of any season in recent memory.

Yankees: It Doesn’t Appear To Be About Analytics

Oddly, it doesn’t appear that the gurus in the Yankee’s analytics department had anything to do with the selection of Taillon.

A quick look at Taillon’s career splits provided by Baseball-Reference reveals nothing of any magnitude.

For instance, against the Rays lifetime, Taillon is 1-2 with a 3.94 ERA covering 16 innings.

Yankees Jameson Taillon - The Chosen One (NY Daily News)
Yankees Jameson Taillon – The Chosen One (NY Daily News)

At Yankee Stadium, Taillon’s record is a bit more notable (5-2, 3.40), but again there’s nothing to suggest his being a lock to pitch this game.

Adding to the subjective mix is that Taillon is coming off a start for the Yankees against Toronto. He removed himself after 2 1/3 innings and 38 pitches, claiming a recurrence of ankle discomfort and injury that kept him on the sidelines for two starts.

According to the Yankees, Taillon has passed all tests, medically and physically based on bullpen sessions, and as far as they know, it’s all systems set to go for the right-hander.

No Matter What, It’s Still About The Bullpen

In another sense, however, Taillon is inconsequential to the whole scheme of things for the Yankees because Aaron Boone will lift him at the very first sign of trouble, and the entire pitching staff will be used (save for Cole) to achieve a win.

In the same way, only life-threatening injuries will prevent players like DJ LeMahieu (hip) and Aaron Judge (dislocated pinkie) from playing today. Luke Voit, however, is done for the season and is on the IL.

On the opposite side of the spectrum sits Kevin Cash and the Tampa Bay Rays, who have nothing to gain today except their 101st win of the year.

For Cash, he needs to ensure his team is competitive today, lest he leaves his team open to “tanking” while at the same time juggling his players to allow for adequate rest that ends what has also been a grueling season.

For Once, A Real Do-Or-Die Game

As most fans are aware, both the Yankees and the Red Sox are in a precarious place today. If either team wins while the other loses, one team is going home.

If both teams win or lose, there will be a one-game playoff tomorrow to break the tie, the game the Yankees are saving Cole to pitch.

For excitement and drama, a better script for the baseball season could not have been written.

Oddly, the National League West is also up for grabs today in a game pitting the San Francisco Giants in a battle for first place with the LA Dodgers.

Both teams have won 100+ games, and the Giants hold a one-game lead over the Dodgers this morning. A Giants loss with a win by the Dodgers – and we’ll have another tie and a playoff game tomorrow.

Yankees: It’s Not Only About The Pitching

Back to the Yankees, though, because it’s not only about the team’s pitching today. While the Yankees bats have not collapsed over the last couple of days, they are surely not making much noise either.

More Than Ever-Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton (USA Today)
More Than Ever-Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton (USA Today)

Also missing is the Yankees’ knack for scoring first and often, which usually means batters trying to hit a five-run home run to catch up.

The secret has been out there for a while now, and if a team can shut down both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees lineup becomes more manageable.

The Yankees Will Bring It Home

Leaving no doubt, whether you are a fan of the Yankees or simply a fan of baseball, today is a day like no other and one they’ll be telling stories about for years yet to come.

I don’t bet, but my monopoly money goes with the Yankees today. Their resilience and ability to bounce back after yesterday’s debacle will shine, and they will answer the call to duty this afternoon.

After that, tomorrow never knows.

Here’s What Readers Are Saying…

Thomas Vitiello This entire season has been held together with duct tape and bubble gum. Even Cole as much as he’s a monster on the mound has been erratic. I’m praying for Yankee big bats and 4 scoreless innings from Talion then a solid relief effort from the pen. I can dream, can’t I? 🤔

Dave Moran This is beyond a joke

Dan Poppa Wilson Typical Boone move. Driving me crazy. Not so fast, only in a tell-all book by Boone will we know it was his decision.

Lance Smith I’m surprised. Figured it would be a bullpen game and Cole would pitch the next game, whether it was a tie-breaker or the wild card game.

Narciso D. Marte I’m going to drink a lot of alcohol watching today’s game cuz beer won’t be enough.😣😖

Greggory Paschal I hope he came to Boone and said give me the ball I got this!

Christopher Carangi See the games they lost in April really do count, but some fans kept saying it’s only April, May, June etc.

Amaury Casilla They’re guaranteed a tiebreaker game on Monday if they lose today. Gotta save Cole for that. That is not correct.. If they lose and Boston wins, the Yankees only have a chance at the second WC, and that could end up in a tie with either (or both) Seattle and Toronto.

Susan Levine Steve, he may surprise us, but I wouldn’t put cash money on it!

Susan Abbott Yea, not hanging my hat on Taillon today. If he starts faltering, you can bet Boonie will leave him in for a few more runs than our bats can’t catch up to. I think the most effective players today will be the frustrated fans, expressing an entire year’s worth of screams from this long, hellish, rollercoaster ride.

Cathy Ferayorni Caiazza At this point they are all running so inconsistent doesn’t really matter – I love my Yanks but it’s going to take a miracle today – the Rays sent us a message these two games and that is they are better and more consistent.

Steven J Grillo He can be really good if healthy. I hope his ankle is well enough to give them a quality start today.

Joe Farro Regardless of what happens today, the Yankees, unfortunately for us fans, have proven this weekend that they are NOT a playoff-caliber team. This weekend series meant everything for the Yankees and nothing for the Rays, and still, they managed to put out an anemic effort. What should we expect of them if they somehow made it into and past the Wild Card game? Undoubtedly more of the same.

Brian Hizer Cole on normal rest tomorrow is a better call. Leaves him available for the wild card game if they win today and has their ace available for the must-win tomorrow otherwise. On paper, it’s the right move. Now Cole needs to pitch like a $324M ace whenever he goes.

Steve Lieberman Taillon was the pitcher of the month in July before hurting his ankle. Pitching him is chancy but Boone has Severino in reserve and maybe Cortes if he wants to go all out. Yankees gave to hit

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Author: stevecontursi

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