Yankees’ Aaron Boone releases playoff starting rotation ahead of ALDS

Alexander Wilson
nestor cortes, yankees
Oct 1, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes (65) pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have finalized their starting rotation for the ALDS and likely the postseason in general. Manager Aaron Boone spoke on Saturday afternoon, offering insight into their strategy but still doesn’t have an answer for who will pitch Game 1 against the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday night.

Considering Cleveland had to utilize two of their starting pitchers, it is likely that Shane Bieber won’t be available for Game 1 against the Yankees in the Bronx, which should give them an advantage.

Gerrit Cole can play in two games during the ALDS:

With that being said, the Bombers may want to utilize Nestor Cortés right out of the gate, allowing Gerrit Cole to pitch Games 2 and 5, given his experience in the postseason and ability to pitch on short rest.

Nonetheless, it seems as if the Yankees will utilize a three-man rotation consisting of Cole, Cortes, and Severino.

“The good thing is, with Gerrit, Nestor and Sevy, I feel really good about where those guys are at and how we can match up from a starting standpoint against really any team right now,” Boone said on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. “So it’s a little bit of a decision right now, but mostly I look at it as a good decision to have.”

Cole has had an up-and-down season, but his numbers are still fantastic, posting a 3.50 ERA, 11.53 per nine, a 78.2% left-on-base rate, and a 42.4% ground ball rate over 200.2 innings.

In the playoffs, Cole features a 2.93 ERA historically, so the Yankees can feel confident about his quality in high-leverage situations.

The Yankees should utilize Nestor Cortes while he’s still hot:

However, Cortes has had the better 2022 campaign by a long shot. The 27-year-old lefty hosts a 2.44 ERA, 9.27 strikeouts per nine, 82.8% left-on-base rate, and 33.5% ground ball rate over 158.1 innings. In fact, he earned a 1.80 ERA in September and went 7.1 innings, allowing one hit and striking out 12 batters against the Baltimore Orioles in his final regular-season start.

“I think I know which way I want to go,” Boone said. “But I want to sleep on it a little bit, talk to different people before ultimately making that decision. I’m leaning towards making that decision sooner rather than later.”

This is obviously a difficult decision for Boone to make, but Cortes has earned the right to Game 1, and Cole has already tipped his cap in respect if that’s the decision management makes.

The other variable to consider is Cole and Cortes’s numbers against the Guardians. Cole is 2–0 with a 1.42 ERA and 15 strikeouts against the Guardians over two games this year.

Alternatively, Nestor Cortés has a 2.19 ERA and 14 strikeouts over two games against Cleveland. Cole has the better numbers on paper, but both starters performed admirably against a young Cleveland squad.