Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone makes an easy decision and one tough one for the Rays series’ opener

Andres Chavez
Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees advanced to the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, a matchup that will see the best of five games move on to the Championship Series. It will start on Monday in the city of San Diego, per the new format adopted this season by the league.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone revealed on Thursday that right-hander Gerrit Cole will be his starter for Game 1, which comes as no surprise since he is the team’s best pitcher by far. Kevin Cash, Tampa’s manager, hasn’t officialized who he will be sending to the mound to rival Cole, but every sign is pointing at left-hander Blake Snell.

The no-brainer decision to send Cole for Game 1 will also set him up to start another contest should the series go that far. The first club to win three games will move on, and the other one will go home.

The Yankees will keep their tandem

Cole is fresh off a dominating start on Tuesday, as he stymied the Cleveland Indians for seven innings. He allowed only six base hits and two runs, with no walks and 13 strikeouts. His teammates said after that game that that type of performance was what he was signed for. For reference, Cole put pen to paper to a a nine-year, $324 pact over the winter.

The decision to start Cole in the first game of the Tampa series was as easy as it gets. However, the person that will catch him is a more complex one for several reasons, the main one being that Gary Sanchez is a superior offensive talent than Kyle Higashioka.

Still, the Yankees’ skipper is once again opting to have Higashioka, who went 1-for-5 with a strikeout on Tuesday, catch Cole. He has become his personal catcher and the two have said they are very comfortable working together.

That means Sanchez, who hit a home run and a sac fly to tie the New York Yankees’ second game against the Cleveland Indians, will start on the bench.