Yankees manager Aaron Boone has to think about his 25-man roster yet again heading into the ALCS. The one he and his staff put together for the ALDS against the Twins worked as planned, sweeping Minnesota to get an early break before their next postseason challenge.
The Yankees don't know their opponent just yet, with the Astros and Rays to play Game 5 on Thursday night. But one of the big decisions for Boone will be whether or not he goes with the same rotation configuration as he did in the last series.
After long thought, it was James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino in that order. During a conference call with the media on Wednesday, Boone was asked if he's sticking with that rotation, and he revealed he will be looking at all options yet again.
"Haven't decided on anything yet," Boone said. "May or may not factor who we're playing. That'll be one of the conversations we have in the next couple of days."
The rotation was a big question mark for the Yanks going into the postseason, but it didn't look that way after these three games. Everyone did their job with Paxton going 4.2 innings, Tanaka a solid five pitched, and Severino working his way out of trouble through four innings. The challenge will be tougher moving forward, but the starters held things down to allow the Yankees' potent offense to put runs on the board.
With this ALCS a seven-game series, we'll also see what Boone was thinking in a Game 4 situation. He didn't have to show his hand in that case, but the cat will be let out of the bag as to whether or not he goes with an opener, takes a risk with J.A. Happ for a few innings, or goes with Paxton on short rest.
In the meantime, Boone and his staff will continue to run through their roster options as they await their opponent for the series ahead. Here's what else the Yankees' skipper answered on Wednesday...
Chapman and Britton should be good to go
What's a few Yankee games without a potential injury scare?
Zack Britton had to leave Game 3 after jamming his ankle on first base while covering the bag for an out. And during the celebration for winning the series, Aroldis Chapman was hit with a bottle in his hand and needed it wrapped up in the clubhouse.
Well, fans can take a deep breath as Boone sounds confident they're perfectly fine and ready to go this weekend.
"Chapman's fine. And Brit came in today to get some work done and he said he's good to go," Boone said. "If [Britton] had to pitch today, he would be good to go. It doesn't seem like something he's overly concerned about."
Being two vital pieces of the back end of this dominate bullpen, that's a big sigh of relief.
Boone likes the lay-off for his squad
There's a big debate among teams as to whether or not a long lay-off from playing is good or bad for them. Just a season ago, Boone would have been someone that believed resting too long would hurt his team.
With this group, it's the exact opposite.
"That's actually one question if you ask me being at this point on the job as opposed to when I first got it, that would've been something I would've always had trepidation about -- having a long lay-off," he said. "Maybe it's just with this team, in particular, it's something I totally embrace and I think benefits us. I know our guys will be ready. I know they prepare really hard behind the scenes to allow themselves to stay sharp."
Boone knew Didi was ready to break out of slump
Before the ALDS began, Boone didn't waver when asked if he was worried about Didi Gregorius' September slump heading into the postseason. Well, he was right not to be.
Gregorius went 4-for-10 with a grand slam in Game 2, and had a team-high six RBI in the series. So did Boone see anything different from Gregorius at the plate in these past three games?
"The thing I kinda maintain with hitting and sometimes where you go through a stretch where you struggle but you're still a really good player like Didi is, sometimes it takes an at-bat or a pitch within an at-bat that kinda gets you locked back in a little bit," Boone said.
"So my biggest thing is I knew he was healthy and confident that he just needed to have some minor successes that kinda help get him back to being who he is. Was really happy to see him contribute the way he did offensively for us this series."