The Yankees have not settled on their Wild Card Game starter, but it appears they will not utilize a reliever to open the game. As such, this leaves two distinct scenarios in which the Yankees might deploy its vaunted relief crew.
Bullpenning: The undesirable method
In the 2017 Wild Card game against the Twins, the Yankees had one of the game's best starters on the hill, but it was then that Luis Severino endured his worst start of the year. With Severino pulled after recording just one out, the Yankees were forced into a bullpenning situation and it amazingly worked.
That said, choosing the bullpenning method at the outset of a game and shifting into one on the fly are two very different things. The pressure is substantially amped when the game is already afoot and one's team is behind in a winner-moves-on affair. As such, the Yankees will need to be ready to pivot if the chosen starter falters in the early going.
Their bullpen is deep and will likely have plenty of length for the Wild Card game, even more so since the 25-man roster for the game won't be traditional. If we consider the situation for which a starter would be removed, there are three relievers that might get early inning work.
If by chance there is a strong left-handed hitter coming to the plate, rookie southpaw Stephen Tarpley might be called upon. Tarpley's recent performance has raised eyebrows in the dugout and front office, giving him a legitimate chance of securing a roster spot. Depending on the handedness of batters to follow the initial left-handed hitter, Tarpley would likely only pitch to one batter.
As for battling right-handed hitters, the Yankees could turn to either Chad Green or David Robertson in the early going of the game with a pressure circumstance brewing. Both pitchers have the ability to squeeze out of tough jams left behind and more importantly in this situation, both possess the ability to return for another inning or even two depending on pitch count and effectiveness.
The Yankees could then turn to a starter that is on the roster -- think one that will not pitch in the immediate division series like CC Sabathia or Lance Lynn -- to notch two or three innings with hopes that the offense chips away at any deficit.
Under these circumstances the Yankees could then utilize end-game relievers (again with a chance that more than three outs will be required of each) to navigate the late innings.
"Traditional" bullpen alignment
If feet were held to the fire, Yankees management would rather not deal with forced bullpenning. Relievers are fickle like any ballplayer, typically enjoying the ability to come into a game with a clean inning or in a familiar part of the game.
The Yankees might choose to utilize their starter for the first two cycles through Oakland's lineup and shift to the bullpen from that point no matter what the situation. In this scenario, the Yankees' starter may work just four to five innings depending on his performance. This would bode well for the Yankees because of the abundance of relievers capable of moving them from the fifth or sixth inning to the ninth.
New York also has the benefit of quality -- even elite in some regards -- right-handed and left-handed arms in the bullpen. This should go a long way toward manager Aaron Boone's ability to deploy his relievers. With righties Dellin Betances, Jonathan Holder, Green and Robertson along with lefties Tarpley, Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees can employ various methods of dispersement, dictated in terms of the situation and in the length of the pitcher's outing.
In the perfect world, the Yankees starter will work five innings and the sixth inning would go to Green -- with Robertson and Betances following and Britton to close to the game out. Chapman does not seem to have the confidence of the club having just returned from a stint on the disabled list, meaning his time might come in an extra-inning scenario or in a frame that is started by one of those mentioned that goes awry.
However, we know playoff games do not proceed in a perfect world setting. There are unforeseen blips that occur which require the manager to quickly change tactics. Boone will have to be more adept than he was during parts of the regular season in these moments, though he is fortunate to maintain plenty of experienced and tested relievers to turn to in truly any situation.
The Yankees created what many believed to be a "super bullpen" this season, and regardless of the way they're used in the Wild Card game, the hurlers will be relied upon to deliver high-leverage outs. Regardless of the scenario that those outs surface, if Boone is ready to shift gears and the relievers perform to the level expected of them, the Yankees could move on to the division series.