About The Playoffs: And Away We Go
By Tim Kabel
October 11, 2022
Tonight, the Yankees open the American League Division championship series against the Cleveland Guardians at 7:37 PM at Yankee Stadium. Gerrit Cole will face Cal Quantrill. With those names, it sounds like a shootout in Dodge City at High Noon.
As I wrote this, the Yankees had not yet finalized their playoff roster. At least, they had not announced it. One thing is for certain, Gerrit Cole will be the starting pitcher tonight. A lot has been written and said about this decision. Many people suggested that Nestor Cortes Jr. and/or Luis Severino would be better choices. I have been a big fan of Nestor Cortes since he burst onto the scene last year. I have written many times that I think he is the Yankees' best pitcher right now. That does not mean he is the best choice for Game One.
Gerrit Cole came to the Yankees to lead them to a World Series victory. He came here to be the ace. For the most part, he has fulfilled the role of being the ace. He has not led them to a World Series yet. I commented recently that Cole's biggest issue is that he lets external forces affect him when he is pitching. Remember, he allowed the ceremony on Opening Day to discombobulate him, and he unraveled in the first inning against the Red Sox. We have seen time and time again this season that a bad call by an umpire or an error by a teammate or a blustery day can get under Cole's skin, causing him to lose focus.
I firmly believe that to get the best performance out of Cole, he needs to be the Game One starter. If he were not the Game One starter, it would upset him. He is too classy to say anything but, he wouldn't need to. We would be able to tell by watching his body language and performance in whichever game he started. It would adversely affect his confidence. In order to get the most out of Cole, he needs to start Game One.
Nestor Cortes is completely different. You could bring him out to the mound blindfolded and dressed up as the San Diego Chicken and he would still pitch a great game. Nestor Cortes' approach to pitching for the Yankees is exactly like mine when it comes to writing for SSTN. We are just happy to be here. I think you will get a tremendous performance out of Nestor in Game Two. I also believe sandwiching him and all his confounding pitches, arm angles, and wind-up variations between Cole and Severino is a wonderful move.
Luis Severino has come back from so much adversity that he will be ecstatic to pitch in the playoffs. If he pitches in Game Three with a chance to clinch the series for the Yankees, I will bet everything my friend Roger owns that the Yankees would win.
I don't know what went into Aaron Boone' s decision to pitch Cole in Game One. He announced it quite a while ago. I believe it's very simple. He believes Cole should be the number one pitcher because he is the number one pitcher. Regardless of how we get there, pitching Cole in Game One is the best move for the Yankees. Anything else would sow the seeds of doubt in the delicate psyche of a pitcher who has proven to be not exactly unflappable. Cole is a tremendous competitor. He is extremely devoted to the Yankees and their history. He is driven to win. However, he is so intense that extraneous factors can get him off his game. Bumping him from Game One would be getting things off on the wrong foot.
Although the roster has not been announced for this playoff series, we do know that Aroldis Chapman will not be representing the Yankees in the ALDS. There was some doubt as to whether he would be anyway but, he made it official by skipping a mandatory workout on Friday. At this point, he never needs to appear in a Yankees' uniform again. He has been told to stay in Miami and not to come around the team. No matter what happens in the first round of the playoffs, they cannot bring him back for any subsequent rounds. It would send a terrible message to all the other members of the team and the fan base. His actions were so selfish and detrimental to the team that he should not even be invited to an Old Timers' Day game, ever. His uniform number should be passed out to someone on the first day of spring training next season, and the team should move on from him as if he was never there.
I will now make my predictions. I know all the readers are inching forward on their chairs, tingling with anticipation. I will say that at the beginning of the season, I predicted the team would win 98 games and they won 99. I predicted Aaron Judge would hit 54 home runs and he hit, as we all know, 62.
I'm going to make a bold prediction. I believe the Yankees will sweep the Guardians. The Yankees are talented, focused, and motivated to win the World Series. They have enough experience in the playoffs as a team and as individuals to not be overwhelmed by the moment.
I believe all three starting pitchers will be masterful and will dominate the Guardians. I'm not sure of the exact roles for the relief pitchers but, I do not believe there will be much of an issue there.
Offensively, I believe Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres will all have a tremendous series. There will be key contributions from Anthony Rizzo and Oswaldo Cabrera. I predict Harrison Bader and Oswald Peraza will each have a big moment in the series as well.
My only concern is that Aaron Boone will use his paint by the numbers approach to the bullpen again without reading the game and the situations as they occur. If, heaven forbid, they wind up in a 15-inning affair like the Guardians and Rays did on Saturday, Boone will run out of pitchers in the 9th inning. Hopefully, the Yankees will get off to fast starts in each of the games and dispatch the Guardians quickly and relatively easily, effectively Boone-proofing the team from their manager's propensity to make dubious and potentially disastrous decisions.
The playoffs are here. In the words of Jackie Gleason, "And Away We Go." Hopefully, at the end of the series, we will say, "How Sweet It Is."