The Yankees plan to use their bullpen against Houston from the start in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series.
With the best-of-seven series tied 1-1, Luis Severino starts Game 3 on Tuesday versus Gerrit Cole. Masahiro Tanaka started the opener and James Paxton was on the mound for Game 2. Manager Aaron Boone plans to use pitchers who have been in the bullpen in the postseason during the fourth game on Wednesday night.
“J.A. Happ could very much be in the mix, as well as I picture our bullpen being unleashed on that day,” Boone said Monday as the series shifted to New York.
A starter during the regular season, Happ has relieved during the playoffs.
The 36-year-old left-hander entered in the 10th inning of Game 2, escaped a two-outs jam, then permitted Carlos Correa’s home run leading off the 11th that gave the Astros a 3-2 win.
Weather could cause New York to alter its plans. Heavy rain is forecast for Wednesday, and if Game 4 is rescheduled, the Yankees would be able to bring back Tanaka, the Game 1 winner, on normal rest. Boone removed Paxton after 2 1/3 innings and 51 pitches, and the bullpen allowed two runs and three hits in 7 2/3 innings. George Springer hit a tying home run in the fifth on Adam Ottavino’s first pitch.
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“I don’t think he’s as far off maybe as is being talked, but he’s certainly not as sharp as he’s been most of the year,” Boone said. “I feel like he’s close to being that, and I think some small successes hopefully will spur him on because he needs to play a big role for us.”
Boone says a choice won’t be made until Wednesday on outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who strained his right quadriceps in the opener and missed Game 2.
Limited by injuries to 18 games during the regular season, Stanton homered in the opener. If he were dropped from the roster against the Astros, he would be ineligible to return this year.
“It is a sensitive decision, a tough decision,” Boone said. “We’ll just try and evaluate and try and get as honest as feedback as we can from Giancarlo.”
Aaron Hicks could get his first start since Aug. 3, taking over in center field from Brett Gardner, who would substitute Stanton in left. Sidelined by an injured flexor near his right elbow, Hicks pinch-hit for starting left fielder Cameron Maybin and grounded out leading off the 10th inning in Game 2, then moved to center.
“Aaron is very much in play,” Boone said, “Thought he had a good at-bat, looked like Aaron Hicks. So he’ll very much be part of the conversation moving forward.”
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