Both the Yankees and Astros finalized their ALCS rosters on Saturday, and both CC Sabathia and Aaron Hicks will be available for the Bombers as they battle Houston for a World Series berth.
The Yankees, who went with a 12-man pitching staff in the ALDS, have opted for 13 pitchers against the Astros. Rather than have Sabathia replace a different pitcher on the staff, the team left both Tyler Wade and Luke Voit off the ALCS roster. Additionally, David Hale was designated for assignment to make room on the team's 40-man roster for Hicks, who had previously been on the 60-day injured list.
New York Yankees Announce 2019 ALCS Roster. Additionally, the Yankees have reinstated OF Aaron Hicks from the 60-day injured list and designated RHP David Hale for assignment. pic.twitter.com/mjXDdbFW1h- Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) October 12, 2019
Manager Aaron Boone indicated prior to the ALDS that a healthy Sabathia would be used out of the bullpen in the playoffs. "Healthy" is the operative word for the veteran left-hander, who battled through right knee inflammation all year and had three separate stints on the injured list in the regular season.
However Sabathia, who needed a cortisone shot in his shoulder at the end of September, did not bounce back from it the way he wanted and was forced to sit out the series against the Twins. But the 39-year-old, who has announced he will retire following this season, is looking to add one final bulletpoint to his Hall of Fame resume.
"CC obviously threw his side (session) a few days ago, and I thought he looked really good," Boone said before Saturday's game. "I thought he was sharp, I thought he was able to really finish his pitches, and then the bounce back the next day. Just felt like physically he was sound to go, and I feel like there's a role for him in this series, and maybe a couple of different ways. We saw the value there."
Now the biggest question mark surrounding Sabathia is the way the Yankees opt to use him. Will he be a situational lefty, or could he be a multiple-inning option out of the pen?
"I can see both, honestly," said Boone. "I think the biggest thing we'll find out is how he's able to bounce back. I feel good about where he's at right now, feel good about his ability to get up, get loose quickly. I think the biggest thing now moving forward is does he bounce back, so we'll see, but I can see a couple of different roles for him."
Sabathia is among the 13 pitchers available to the Yankees in the series, which led to position players like Voit being left off the roster.
"Kind of settled on 13 pitchers a day or two ago. A pretty strong consensus that we wanted to go that way," Boone explained. "And then obviously that led to some difficult decisions to fill out the position players."
Hicks, meanwhile, has been out since Aug. 3 with a right flexor strain in his elbow. He also suffered a lower back strain towards the end of spring training and missed the first 41 games of the season. The switch-hitter is not in the starting lineup for Game 1, but he could be a factor as a starter later in the series.
"It's a little bit of an unknown for me," Boone said of Hicks' role. "I could see that role evolving. A lot can change over the course of a series, and there's an unknown with Aaron, obviously. He's a obviously very good player, and impact player and he's healthy and sound and worked hard to get himself to this point and get himself into that conversation. The big unknown is just that he hasn't played in the games for a while.
"Obviously on the bench right now. We'll see what role he plays in that, but certainly it can be a long series and I would not be surprised if he's in there at some point."
Astros set ALCS Roster. RHP Peacock and Abreu added; Straw and Miley off pic.twitter.com/lc1Yd8zYUJ- Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) October 12, 2019
Game 1 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:08 p.m. from Minute Maid Park in Houston.