1. Tanaka and Paxton Closing Out Games?
The Yankees should give Tanaka and Paxton more experience in high-leverage situations.
You’re probably done with me at this point, but this farfetched idea could help get these guys prepared for the pressure of the postseason.
We know Tanaka has been the team’s best option in such games over the course of the last few years, but why not get him even more acclimated to the playoff atmosphere? Say Boone goes with an opener or a prospect spot start as we previously suggested. He can then turn to Tanaka or Paxton for the final 3-6 innings depending on how the game is going.
This doesn’t have to be happening on a regular basis, but sprinkling in some change will help in a multitude of ways. Not to be a pessimist here, but Tanaka is not very good in high leverage situations (he allowed a slash line of .247/.286/.543 with seven home runs and 33 runs scored in 26 games last year), which will be more plentiful as the games progress, so he can work out the kinks in such opportunities.
Paxton didn’t fare any better, allowing 21 runs on a .262/.292/.385 slash line in 24 games in 2019. Provide more situations for these guys to prove themselves, and they’ll be even more prepared for the top competition in October. All in all, the shortened season will give Boone some flexibility to try out some new things, as well as make sure the pitching staff in its entirety will be crucial in capturing World Series No. 28.