Yankees in a must win non-elimination situation in ALCS Game 4
Following Wednesday’s rain-out, both the Yankees and Astros reshuffled their starting pitchers. Therefore, Masahiro Tanaka and the Bombers must do exactly what they did in Game 1 if they plan on making a series out of this thing.
During the Yankees Game 1 win over the Astros, the Bombers slugged seven balls with an exit velocity of over 102-mph. Astros starter Zack Greinke surrendered three runs, including two homers before turning the ball over to the bullpen.
Greinke threw his four-seam fastball 47 percent of the time at an average speed of 97.5-mph.
Naturally, when a pitch is thrown with that much frequency, smart hitters are sitting dead-red. And while it remains to be seen if Greinke alters his gameplan, the Yanks will be without one of the men that hit a homer in Game 1, Giancarlo Stanton.
Although Stanton reportedly jogged around the bases, hours before to Game 4, he’s nowhere to be found in Aaron Boone’s lineup. And at this point, if Stanton’s injured quad won’t allow him to further contribute to the Yanks’ cause in this series, his removal from the roster must be considered.
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I know that means he would be ineligible for the World Series, but you have to get there first. And since Mike Tauchman is supposedly cleared to return to duty, it’s a definite possibility that the Yankees make a move, mainly depending on the outcome of Game 4.
However, Boone did switch up the order a bit, as Aaron Hicks will get the start in center field and bat third — likely due to his switch-hitting ability. However, Hicks has doesn’t have a hit since Aug. 3 after going on the IL with a severely strained right elbow.
The Yankees most consistent postseason player-to-date, Gleyber Torres, will bat cleanup, followed by Edwin Encarnacion. Brett Gardner will man left field and bat sixth while Gary Sanchez is in the seven-slot.
Like I wrote yesterday, despite Sanchez’s basic non-existence at the plate this postseason, Boone was never going to sit him — but perhaps dropping him even lower in the order should have been considered.
Gio Urshela bats eighth, and once again, Didi Gregorious will act as a second lead-off man (the second time through the lineup, that is), as he hits ninth.
The key for the Yankee offense will be getting on the board first. Setting the tone early — and hopefully often, will go a long way to instilling some much-needed confidence following numerous missed opportunities over the past two games.
Getting another stellar start from Masahiro Tanaka would also go a long way towards insuring Game 5 isn’t do-or-die. In four playoff starts at Yankee Stadium, Tanaka is 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA.