Yankees manager Aaron Boone stepped to the podium Friday ahead of Game 1 of the ALDS against the Twins with plenty to say about both Minnesota's roster and his own, in addition to the series history between the two teams. Here's what we learned...
"Tough decision" to leave Ford off of roster
The Yankees announced their roster earlier Friday morning, and Mike Ford was absent from it, despite a .338/.398/.738 slash line over his last 80 at bats. Ford also hit nine home runs over that span. But with Edwin Encarnacion back from injury and expected to get the majority of playing time at designated hitter, it came down to matchups off the bench. Boone felt that there were going to be more options available for Luke Voit than Ford, so the manager opted for the right-handed hitter as opposed to the left-handed hitting Ford.
"It was a tough decision, but there aren't many right-handed hitters I'd pinch-hit for," Boone said.
Confidence high in Tyler Lyons
Another surprise on the ALDS roster may have been the inclusion of Tyler Lyons, but Boone thinks he has the ability to get key outs for the Yankees if necessary. The left-handed pitcher was signed in August after he was released by the Pirates.
"We've really tried to get Lyons into some situations this final month against some really good left-handed hitters to see how it would play," Boone said. "I feel like by and large he did really well. Lefties don't necessarily see the ball real well against him. We think there are some matchups for him in this series that make some real sense."
Stanton "in a pretty good place" coming into series
Giancarlo Stanton had an injury-plagued season in 2019, initially missing 68 games after hurting his biceps on March 31. He returned to play six games in June, before an unrelated knee injury sidelined him for 73 more games. He returned for good on Sept. 18, hitting two homers in the nine games in which he appeared before the end of the regular season.
Boone also liked what he saw from his power-hitting outfielder in terms of the way he looks.
"I've been impressed with what I've seen physically," Boone said. "How he's moved around the bases, how's moved around in the outfield cutting balls off. That's been a little bit better than I expected. I feel like he comes into this series in a pretty good place and a good frame of mind.
Yankees Game 1 lineup "wrote itself"
Due in part to Stanton only playing 18 games, the nine players starting in Game 1 will be appearing in the lineup together for the first time all season. With all his options at his disposal, Boone said putting together the order wasn't as difficult as it may have seemed.
"It shook out pretty clear in my eyes," Boone said. "Obviously, only having two lefties in there against Berrios, we did our best to split them up, but it pretty much wrote itself in my opinion."
Not focusing on playoff history against Twins
It's no secret the Yankees have dominated the Twins in the playoffs. This year's series will be the sixth time the two teams have matched up in the postseason. The Yankees have won the five previous ones, going 13-2 in the 15 total games played. Does that have any relevance to the Yankees skipper heading into this one?
"I'm hoping it means something, but honestly I don't," Boone said. "We know that we're up against a great opponent. A lot of people have talked about looking in the mirror a little bit and I certainly think that's understandable given the quality hitters, and frankly the quality pitchers we have. But I don't think history plays a huge role one way or the other."