NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — All eyes will be on “Big Maple” on Friday night in the Bronx.
Veteran Masahiro Tanaka will get the ball in Game 2 on Saturday and Luis Severino will pitch Game 3 on Monday at Target Field in Minneapolis, Boone said.
“It was a difficult decision. Frankly, I went back and forth on it daily, sometimes a few times over the course of a day,” Boone said of trying to decide how to order his staff. “Really, what it came down to, the reason it was, is because I feel like all of those guys are in a good place. And I throw J.A. Happ in that mix, too. I feel like he’s throwing the ball as well as he has at any point in the season, so I felt like it was a good decision. Hopefully, we’ll maximize those guys as best we can.
“I feel like James is the guy to get us off on the right foot,” Boone added.
The second-year manager also said veteran left-hander CC Sabathia will not be on the ALDS roster, which was expected to be revealed by the end of the day Thursday or perhaps early Friday. Boone said Sabathia has a left shoulder issue and received a cortisone shot, but it “wasn’t where it needs to be.”
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Paxton (15-6, 3.82 ERA) was the Yankees’ best starter during the regular season, but had his struggles. In fact, through his first 18 starts he was just 5-6 with a 4.72 ERA, often looking lost in the first inning. However, he was arguably one of the top hurlers in the game over the final two months, going 10-0 with a 2.21 ERA in 11 starts.
Needless to say, it took the Canadian-born Paxton a while to settle in with the Yankees after coming over in an offseason trade with the Seattle Mariners.
“I’m excited. It’s really awesome. It’s an honor to pitch Game 1,” Paxton said. “I’m gonna go as hard as I can for as long as I can.”
The 30-year-old left-hander attributed his second-half turnaround to trusting one particular pitch more.
“I think incorporating the curveball is really important because it’s just a change of speeds,” Paxton said. “When I throw the fastball 94-96 [mph] and then I throw the cutter at 88 to 91 they can kind of stay looking hard and just pull the cutter and run into it by accident sometimes. Whereas if I throw the curveball at 80-83, something like that, it will get them out front and they won’t be able to cover two pitches with the same swing.
“As I threw the curveball more, I got more and more confident with that pitch,” Paxton added.
The 30-year-old left-hander left his final start of the regular season, on Friday at Texas, with a nerve issue in his glute, but said Thursday he feels fine.
“It’s good. It will be a non-issue,” he said.
Paxton allowed one run, two hits and three walks in a no-decision against the Twins on May 3, his only appearance against them this season.
Tanaka (11-9, 4.49) was up and down throughout the regular season, but has been a reliable postseason pitcher during his five-plus seasons with the Yankees, going 3-2 with a 1.50 ERA in five starts.
Severino (1-1, 1.50) didn’t make his first start of the season until Sept. 17 due to injuries, but has looked good in three outings since, allowing two earned runs and six hits with 17 strikeouts over 12 innings. The 25-year-old right-hander routinely threatened triple digits on the radar gun, a clear indication that he’s moving closer to regaining the form he showed last season, when he went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA.
Sabathia, who is retiring after the postseason, made his first regular-season relief appearance on Sept. 24 at Tampa Bay. He said his shoulder continues to be problematic.
“It’s been something that we’ve been trying to deal with the past couple months. Thought that we had a pretty good handle on it,” Sabathia said. “I threw in that game in Tampa, and it felt pretty good, but I woke up a couple days later, and it was pretty sore.”
The Twins will counter with José Berríos (14-8, 3.68) on the mound in Game 1. Manager Rocco Baldelli did not announce a Game 2 starter, but Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (15-7, 3.51) is the most likely candidate.
Boone said expects slugger Edwin Encarnación to be on the ALDS roster. Encarnación, who hasn’t played since Sept. 12 because of a strained left oblique, hit in a pair of simulated games this week.