The New York Yankees were preparing to trot out Jameson Taillon for Game 5 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Guardians, but due to inclement weather, the game was postponed to 4 PM on Tuesday afternoon. While some looked down upon the game being moved, it ultimately provided the Yankees with an additional advantage.
Instead of Taillon taking the mound in a Do or Die game for the Yankees, lefty starter Nestor Cortés will replace him on four days’ rest. Cortés had a solid outing for the most part in Game 2 of the ALDS this past Thursday, allowing six hits and two earned runs over 5.0 innings. His velocity was seemingly down, but after tossing 92 pitches with two weeks between starts, he should be back to his normal self on Tuesday afternoon.
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The Yankees can trust Nestor Cortés to get the job done:
Cortés was one of the Yankees’ best starters this regular season, featuring a 2.44 ERA, 3.64 xFIP, 9.27 strikeouts per nine, an 82.8% left on-base rate, and 33.5% ground ball rate over 158.1 innings. This is the most Cortés has pitched in a single season, and while he isn’t known for his high strike-out numbers, he limited opposing batters significantly in the home runs category.
There was a concern that Cleveland would be able to feature Shane Bieber, their bonafide ace against Cortés, on Tuesday, but on three days’ rest, he is still unable to go. Instead, they will still retain Aaron Civale as their primary starter, but they could work into their bullpen rather quickly if he runs into trouble.
Civale is a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher, tossing 97 innings during the 2022 regular season, featuring a 4.92 ERA, 9.09 strikeouts per nine, 62.5% left on-base rate, and 41.2% ground ball rate. Overall, the Yankees have plenty of offensive firepower to take a vantage of Civale early in the game, which is exactly what they must do if they want to walk away from Game 5 with a victory.
Civale is prone to giving up home runs, averaging 1.30 HR/9 during the regular season with a 13.1% HR/FB ratio. He’s given up even more in the past, indicating one of the best slugging teams in baseball could have a significant advantage if they show up to play early.
The pitching matchup heavily favors the Bombers, which is exactly what they needed to propel them to the ALCS against the Houston Astros.