New York Yankees: Analyzing the ALDS Starting Rotation

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: Sonny Gray (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: Sonny Gray (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

After a dramatic win over the Minnesota Twins, the New York Yankees will take on the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series. Here’s an analysis of how Joe Girardi will line up his starting rotation.

The New York Yankees survived a terrible 0.1 innings performance out of their ace Luis Severino in the American League Wild Card Game. Despite being saved by their powerful bullpen and home run hitters, the Yankees will need better starting pitching performances in the ALDS if they are going to get past the Cleveland Indians.

Here’s how the New York Yankees ALDS starting rotation will play out, according to the Yankees PR Department:

Game 1

Cleveland Indians – Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19 ERA)

New York Yankees – Sonny Gray (10-12, 3.55 ERA) (w/ OAK & NYY)

Game 2

Cleveland Indians – Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA)

New York Yankees – CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA)

Game 3

Cleveland Indians – Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29 ERA)

New York Yankees – TBA


The Yankees Game 1 starter was expected to be either Sonny Gray or Masahiro Tanaka after Severino’s Wild Card clunker.

I like the choice to run Sonny Gray out there with Corey Kluber looming in Game 2. Gray and Tanaka are both very good pitchers but have been very different in 2017.

Sonny Gray is consistent. In 11 starts with the Yankees, Gray has given up two or fewer earned runs eight times. He keeps you in the game and worst case scenario, he’ll give up three or four runs.

Masahiro Tanaka, on the other hand, has been hit or miss this year. Tanaka’s five September starts epitomize his uneven season:

  • Sept. 2 vs BOS – 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
  • Sept. 8 at TEX – 4.0 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
  • Sept. 14 vs BAL – 7.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
  • Sept. 22 at TOR – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
  • Sept. 29 vs TOR – 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 15 K

If Masahiro Tanaka pitched Game 1 against Trevor Bauer and gave up seven runs like he did against the Rangers and Blue Jays, then the Yankees would likely go down in the series 1-0 with Corey Kluber on the horizon. Sonny Gray could give the Yanks his typical six innings and two runs in Game 2 but that might not be enough against Kluber. The Bronx Bombers would then be in a 2-0 hole, needing Severino to bounce back in a big way just to keep the series going.

However, with Sonny Gray pitching Game 1, if he gives the Yankees the six innings of two-run ball he’s consistently given them all year, the Yanks will have a great chance of beating Trevor Bauer and taking a 1-0 lead over the Indians.

The Yankees would then be playing with house money with CC Sabathia going up against Corey Kluber. If Sabathia pitches like he did in his final regular-season start against the Blue Jays (5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K), maybe, just maybe, the Yanks can beat Kluber and take a 2-0 lead heading back home.

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However, if Sabathia gets shelled and the Yankees lose, well, they were going up against Kluber and probably would’ve lost even if CC gave up just a few runs. If Kluber’s on the hill, I rather lose 8-0 than 1-0 and waste a great pitching performance. If Kluber gets the win, the series would be tied 1-1 heading back to New York where either Luis Severino or Masahiro Tanaka would have a chance to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead at home.

After throwing just 29 pitches on Tuesday, it’s feasible that Severino could have pitched in Game 2 on Friday, but again, I wouldn’t want to waste a great pitching performance against Corey Kluber.

It will be interesting to see if Girardi gives Masahiro Tanaka the ball in Game 3 or if Luis Severino gets a chance at redemption.

In a best-of-five series, I didn’t expect to see CC Sabathia. However, I think Game 2 against Kluber is the best time to pitch him. Tanaka is the most unpredictable of the New York Yankees starters, so I would have sent him out there against Kluber, hoping for the best, but hedging my bet if the worst occurred.

Next: Yankees Surviving Biggest Weakness Provides Playoff Hope

The Yankees survived the Wild Card Game with a terrible starting pitching performance. Lining up Sonny Gray for Game 1, CC Sabathia for Game 2, and Luis Severino/Masahiro Tanaka for Game 3 gives New York the best chance of surviving the ALDS in case the worst happens again. However, let’s hope we see better starting pitching performances from the New York Yankees moving forward.