The Yankees could have a major problem following game 1 of the ALDS

Alexander Wilson
New York Yankees, J.A. Happ
Jun 18, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher J.A. Happ (34) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

With the New York Yankees gearing up to face off against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, it’s time to review some of the essential factors going into the series.

Awkwardly, both teams are staying at the same hotel, despite their differences during the regular season. If you recall, closer Aroldis Chapman through a 100 mph fastball at the head of Michael Brosseau. Whether it was a mistake or not, Rays’ general manager Kevin Cash had strong words for the Yankees following the situation. The back-and-forth chirping has been a developing thing, and I fully expect both teams to continue their hostility during the ALDS.

The primary difference maker between the two teams will be their starting pitching, as the Rays have the advantage in that category. Featuring Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, and Charlie Morton, the Yankees are outmatched behind Gerrit Cole.

Projected starting rotation for the New York Yankees:

1.) Gerrit Cole

Cole has only started one game for the Yankees this postseason period, but he was stellar in his first outing against the Cleveland Indians. In the Wild Card game, he posted a 2.57 ERA with 13 strikeouts and zero walks.

For the Yankees to stay in the series, Cole must have a dominant outing against Tampa in game one. Gaining that essential momentum will help Masahiro Tanaka in game two, despite his porous performance against Cleveland this past week.

2.) Masahiro Tanaka

Postseason Tanaka is known to be excellent, but his solo appearance against Cleveland was tumultuous, at best. He posted a disappointing 13.50 ERA, allowing six earned runs over just 4.0 innings pitched. Prior to that tough start, his highest ERA was 3.60 against Houston back in 2015. He has been stellar up to this past week, and the Yankees desperately need him to return to his old self.

That is the thing about Tanaka, though, he can have one awful start and then become a dominant pitcher in the next. Hopefully, he carries over his past postseason performances into an essential game two against Tampa.

3.) JA Happ

This is where things ultimately fall off for the Bronx Bombers. With no established third man in the rotation, they will likely call upon JA Happ to get the job done. In 2019, Happ wasn’t even utilized as a starter in the postseason after finishing the regular season with a 4.91 ERA. He gave up 34 home runs, the most in his career by seven.

Happ pitched just 3.2 relief innings in the postseason last year, allowing one earned run in a loss to Houston. The Yankees don’t have many options when it comes to their rotation, considering the lack of experience behind Happ.

They could call upon Jordan Montgomery or Deivi Garcia, but neither have postseason experience, and some might consider that move malpractice. The former Toronto Blue Jay represents their best option for playoff baseball, and it throws us back to the trade deadline when the Yankees had an opportunity to gain another starter with experience.