“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”
The Rays got to Justin Verlander in Game 4 of the ALDS. Now it’s the Yankees’ turn. The formula for success tonight should be: aggressive early. Tampa struck for three runs in the 1st inning on four hits, driving up his pitch count. Yes, Verlander was on three-days rest when he turned in that sub-par performance, but the mere fact that he has shown to be human this postseason gives me hope. But for this to work, James Paxton needs to turn in a solid outing. Game 2 did not go so well, as Paxton did not get out of the 3rd inning. Length will obviously be the goal for him in Game 5, as both Adam Ottavino and Chad Green struggled out of the bullpen last night. But, facing elimination, Aaron Boone will surely have a quick hook on his starter and will not hesitate to get Paxton out of there early. If that is the case, I believe Luis Cessa could be the first reliever in the game tonight. Cessa pitched a scoreless two innings against the Astros in Game 3, and should be well-rested given the postponement on Wednesday. In an effort to get his bats going in this do-or-die situation, Boone could elect to start Giancarlo Stanton, despite a sore right quad. If this does happen, the manager has said that the big slugger would occupy the DH spot, as he is still not 100%. After two errors at first base last night, D.J. LeMahieu could find himself back at third base, displacing the struggling Gio Urshela. Regardless of how the lineup shapes out, there is little room for error on either side of the ball for the Yankees. Verlander (then Cole, maybe) is a tall task, but the goal is to go 1-0 tonight and figure the rest out for Game 6 in Houston tomorrow. With that being said, and the wisdom of Yogi Berra on our side, Go Yankees!