The Yankees revealed their starting rotation for ALDS Games 1-3, a day before the series gets underway
Game 1: James Paxton
Game 2: Masahiro Tanaka
Game 3: Luis Severino
Meanwhile, CC Sabathia’s shoulder didn’t bounce back well enough from a cortisone shot, so he will be left off the ALDS roster in a surprise move. The left-hander tossed a 1-2-3 inning in relief in Tampa but was unable to pitch in Texas with shoulder issues.
Sabathia will keep working on the side with the potential to rejoin the roster later in the postseason. The Astros have just one major left-handed hitter, while the Rays and some of the NL teams have more to pitch to if they match up with New York. Leaving him off the roster may very well mean the end of Sabathia’s career.
Paxton was the obvious choice for New York after his second-half surge. Beginning with a quality start against Boston on Aug. 2, Paxton went 10-0 with a 2.51 ERA over his final 11 starts. His final start was abbreviated by a strain to his left glute, but that was more precautionary, as evidenced by his Game 1 assignment.
Tanaka, meanwhile, has significant home/road splits, partially buoyed by two disaster starts against the Red Sox in London and at Fenway. Aaron Boone said that those splits had nothing to do with the decision. Whether it’s from postseason experience or being more stretched out, Tanaka emerged as the Game 2 option.
Severino has made three starts since returning from shoulder surgery and has yet to throw more than 80 pitches in a start. His one road start, coming in Texas on Saturday, featured a lackluster first inning before a better final two innings.
A key factor will be the Yankees’ bullpen usage, which should go up aggressively in the postseason. With Severino’s lack of innings, Tanaka’s struggles late in games and the days off in the postseason, Boone will have the opportunity to use his bullpen early and often in each game.