By the time the New York Yankees take the field for the 2019 American League Championship Series, they will have had five days worth of rest after sweeping the Minnesota Twins out of the playoffs.
Their dominant showing in the first round has further built their stock as a World Series favorites, especially since the Los Angeles Dodgers are out of the picture and the Houston Astros are having such trouble with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Things are looking good in the Bronx.
But that doesn’t mean that manager Aaron Boone is exempt from some roster tweaking.
Heading into the ALCS, one of the biggest things to keep an eye on when it comes to the Yankees is their starting-rotation plans.
Boone wasn’t presented with much of an issue in the best-of-five ALDS as he was able to roll out James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino with little issue.
The starters combined for just 13.2 innings of work over the three games, but they posted a 2.64 ERA in the process.
Due to Tanaka’s road struggles, he will get the ball in either Game 2 (if the Yankees are playing the Rays) or Game 3 (if they play the Astros).
Shifting to a seven-game series, the Yankees will need four starters. It just depends on whether Boone will trust J.A. Happ or decide to use reliever Chad Green as an opener.
The left-handed starter struggled for most of the 2019 season. However, he hit his stride in his final six outings (five starts) of the season.
In 32.1 innings, Happ posted a 2.23 ERA with 35 strikeouts while his opponents hit just .177 against him.
His performance in the 2018 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox though will provide a cautionary tale for Boone. Happ lasted just two innings in Game 1 of that series, allowing five runs on four hits.
Green has allowed one run in 5.2 playoff innings dating back to last postseason.
Elsewhere on the roster, center fielder Aaron Hicks claims that he’s fully healthy and ready to go after recovering from an elbow strain that was originally believed to have ended his season.
Hicks suffered the injury in early August before suffering a setback in September.
He’s played in just 59 games this season, slashing .235/.325/.443 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI.
That’s not exactly the kind of year the Yankees wanted after signing him to a seven-year, $70 million contract back in February.
Boone admitted that he “is very much in consideration” for an ALCS roster spot, but given his lack of play this season, he might be utilized as a switch-hitting option off the bench.
That could mean the Yankees would have to take Cameron Maybin off the roster. The veteran journeyman went deep in the ninth inning of the clinching Game 3 of the ALDS on Monday.
Should the Yankees opt to hold onto him, Tyler Wade becomes the next logical roster cut.