Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Yankees officials have begun discussing in earnest who will start the wild card game next month, and Aaron Boone made an interesting admission on Wednesday: That a potential division series meeting with the Red Sox could factor into which starter the team chooses.
This is a logical way to think, but teams are usually too superstitious to plan for a matchup that might never happen. Single-elimination wild card games are like Word Series game sevens -- the only thing that matters is survival, no matter how you achieve it.
But it's smart to also acknowledge that if the Yankees beat Oakland -- their likely opponent in the wild card game -- they will then need to defeat Boston in a best-of-five division series. The point is to win a championship, not lose in the second round. So, if Boone and the front office are in need of a tie-breaker in choosing Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ or Luis Severino, their preferred matchup against Boston could be a tiebreaker.
"I think you have to strike a little bit of a balance there, but I think the biggest thing that does come about is that one game," Boone said. "You are going to do obviously everything you can that you think is right to win that game.
"That said, if you are toiling with a couple decisions, then maybe the next [series] comes into play a little bit … What's the best for going next, that can factor in a little bit, too. For the most part you are going to pour everything you can into that one game."
For the record, Happ is 7-4 in his career against Boston, with a 2.82 ERA. Tanaka is 8-4, with a 4.08, and Severino is 3-6 with a 4.29. That obviously suggests a benefit to keeping Happ in reserve, so he can start twice in a series against Boston. Happ also pitched well against the Red Sox on Tuesday.
Career numbers against an opponent can be deceptive because of changing rosters, and the ways that pitchers evolve over the years. That's why, in addition to looking at his pitchers' histories, Boone will scrutinize their recent work even more close than usual.
"I would say they factor in," the manager said of the trio's remaining regular season starts. "It all kind of goes into the cake, as we start to talk about a little bit in earnest the last of couple of days about where we are at, what we are thinking, possibilities. How these next dozen game or so -- whatever we have left -- how they play out. How the rotation falls a little bit. It will all factor into our decision as to how we'd pitch in a wild card scenario. We are starting to have conversations about and I would say that these next 12 days will play a role in that."
Whatever the team decides, we now know that it will be with the Red Sox in mind -- at least to some extent -- and not just the A's.