The New York Yankees have a big pitching decision looming ahead of Game 1 of the ALDS in about a week. With the final game of the regular season against the Texas Rangers slated to start at 4 PM, manager Aaron Boone spoke about the big decision, likely offering an answer within the next 24 hours.
According to Brian Hoch of MLB Network, Boone indicated that his prediction that Gerrit Cole would start Game 1 still hasn’t changed, but they will review the information and make a final decision based on a myriad of different variables.
“It hasn’t changed. I just want to make sure that’s the way I want to go. We’ll finalize that here probably over the next 24 hours.”
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An impossible choice for the New York Yankees:
While Cole offers the Yankees plenty of postseason experience and is finishing another solid campaign, Nestor Cortés has undoubtedly been the team’s best starting pitcher this year.
In fact, Cortés features an impressive 2.44 ERA over 158.1 innings this season. However, the team may feel a bit more comfortable having an experienced playoff arm like Gerrit Cole on the mound. Cole hosts a 3.50 ERA over 200.2 innings, recording 11.53 strikeouts per nine and a 78.2% left on-base rate.
During the postseason, Cole has earned a 2.93 ERA and 11.62 strikeouts per nine but had a tough outing against the Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card last year. That seems to be an anomaly based on his past success, but when you look at the current momentum of Cortés, it makes the decision even more difficult.
In the month of September, Cortés feature a 1.80 ERA, giving up four earned runs over 20 innings. To start October, he struck out 12 batters over 7.1 innings against the Baltimore Orioles in his final regular-season appearance, giving up just one hit in the process.
The metrics would suggest that Cortés is the easy answer here, but the Yankees are paying Cole $36 million per season to show up in instances like this.
Despite Gerrit indicating he just wants to win and he’s fine with whatever decision the Yankees make, it is hard to ignore Nestor’s incredible season up to this point. In addition, Cole has now given up a homer in eight consecutive games, a problem the Bombers may want to avoid to open a playoff series.