Spirits are high after the Yankees advanced to the ALDS, but it’s important to be realistic.
For the most part, the Bombers look ready in all facets of the roster with the exception of the bullpen, and we’ll get to that soon. Gerrit Cole dominated in his Yankees playoff debut, the offense scored 22 runs in two games at Progressive Field, and the defense has kept things tight after largely shaky year. Even Masahiro Tanaka largely looked fine after dealing with that weather delay fiasco.
But all is not rosy. Some hitters are still slumping, and anything can really turn in a flash. That’s been the case all year, so why would it change when the stakes are the highest?
Fans should tread lightly in terms of their confidence in these three players ahead of the start to the ALDS on Monday.
3. Zack Britton
The Yankees can’t feel confident about Zack Britton in the postseason.
On top of Zack Britton being unable to perform in split-inning duty, the left-hander doesn’t have a good postseason track record. He owns a 3.79 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 18 career games, 12 of which have come with New York. His 15 walks across 19 innings is a serious red flag.
Two of those free passes were issued on Wednesday night, which put the Yankees in a jam and eventually cost them the lead. He threw just 10 strikes out of his 24 total pitches. He looked pretty bad. He was charged with two earned runs when Jonathan Loaisiga couldn’t get the job done and allowed a pinch-hit double to Jordan Luplow.
While Britton was a force during the regular season, maintaining a 1.89 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 19 innings, he largely flourished in the closer role when Aroldis Chapman was away from the team as he recovered from COVID-19. Britton just doesn’t feel as if he’s as reliable and comfortable in another role.
He’s the Yankees’ setup man, and he was deployed in the sixth inning on Wednesday night. He needs to get used to being utilized in other spots, but it doesn’t seem like he can. Manager Aaron Boone clearly won’t be amending his usage of the left-hander, so Britton’s going to be an edge-of-your-seat appearance throughout much of the postseason.