2. JP Sears Faces Rafael Devers as First Lefty Out of the ‘Pen
It’s just the opener, right? Game 1 of 162? It’s still a bit of an experimental breeding ground, even though the games absolutely count, yes?
Combine the fact that Gerrit Cole has only made two spring starts in a shortened camp with the reality that the Red Sox have seen the ball quite well against him lately, and you’ve got a recipe for two on with two out in the fifth inning with Cole sitting at 79 high-stress pitches and his nemesis Rafael Devers at the plate.
Who you gonna call this early in the game? Wandy Peralta, who’ll be needed later? Lucas Luetge who, after an excellent first season in the Bronx, is still widely considered the last man out of the ‘pen? Or JP Sears, the top prospect who just buzzsawed his way through the Phillies and made the Opening Day roster after being protected on the 40-man this offseason?
It all depends. Does Aaron Boone want a soft landing for his latest weapon or not? He certainly didn’t care back in 2020, when Clarke Schmidt was promoted and immediately thrown into the fire during a high-leverage situation in Baltimore. Why would he care now? Why is Sears on the team if he can’t come into a scenario like this?
Cole likely won’t be allowed to go beyond 80 pitches in the April chill, and the Yankees might have to patch four full innings or more together from the back end of the bullpen. Don’t be surprised if Sears gets some run sooner than you were expecting.