The New York Yankees planned to enter their ALDS series with the Cleveland Guardians rolling with a three-man rotation of Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino, throwing Jameson Taillon into the closer mix (with very little experience).
Things were shaken by Mother Nature on Thursday, though, as the much-anticipated rain fell as hard as everyone but Rob Manfred foresaw, shifting Game 2 to Friday and removing all possible remaining rest days.
The storm meant that Cortes, Game 2’s starter, would no longer be able to return for Game 5 on short rest. Same with Shane Bieber. Both could potentially cameo, but neither could carry the load.
So how would the Yankees handle the shift in plans? Would Taillon be penciled back into the rotation? How would the team juggle the desire to step on Cleveland’s throats and the necessity of preparing for a short-handed future?
According to Aaron Boone, the team didn’t give a second thought to an immediate shuffle. Game 4 will be handled by Cole, as planned. Game 5? All hands on deck, and the Yankees will bank on the Guardians being just as discombobulated if the series stretches to its limits.
Yankees planning to start Gerrit Cole in Game 4, not Game 5 of ALDS
Not only will the Yankees be keeping Cole on turn (probably best not to pull a Billy Crystal and disrupt him anyway), but they’re not shying away from Taillon/Domingo Germán as bullpen options, either.
Nobody is being “saved.” The team that drew first blood in the series sees no reason to be cautious.
And it’s … probably the right attitude. After all, how many times has a team forsaken winnable games and “prepared” for a winner-take-all game that ended up going the other way? The New York Mets just filled the airwaves with blather about taking care of the Padres quickly enough to “save” Jacob deGrom, and look where that got them.
It would be nice for the Yankees to have the security of a short-rest Cortes in a hypothetical Game 5, but it would also be even nicer from a Guardians perspective to be able to rely on Shane Bieber for the same contest.
Both teams are scrambling, in theory, but Boone isn’t backing down. Who knows how the Guardians plan to save their season? The Yankees’ plan remains crystal clear and unaffected by the weather.