Cole getting the call for Game 1 is no surprise, but Boone had left some wiggle room that Cortes or Severino could have drawn the assignment before announcing his decision on Sunday.
"This is one of the areas of our club that I’m really excited about heading into the postseason,” Boone said. “We can go match up with other teams’ pitchers. I feel like this is the best way to line it up as we embark on our goal of winning a championship.”
Cortes was 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA (159 ERA+) in 28 starts, striking out 163 batters in 158 1/3 innings. Severino was dominant in his final outing of the regular season, holding the Rangers hitless over seven innings on Monday to finish 7-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 19 starts.
Cole has pitched well against Cleveland (2-0, 1.42 ERA in two starts) this season. Cortes has also been solid, going 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA in two starts vs. the Guardians.
“I considered every angle, but ultimately considered this was the way we wanted to go,” Boone said.
Matt Carpenter hasn’t lost his home run stroke. The infielder/outfielder took Cortes deep in a live at-bat on Friday at Yankee Stadium, according to Boone, who said that Carpenter “looks great” and is expected to be on the Yankees’ ALDS roster.
Carpenter hasn’t played in a big league game since Aug. 8, when he sustained a left foot fracture that interrupted a storybook comeback season. Carpenter finished the regular season hitting .305/.412/.727 with 15 homers and 37 RBIs in 47 games.
“I feel like I’m ready,” Carpenter said. “Just the way I feel physically, I’ve been able to get some at-bats here recently and have competitive at-bats.”
Carpenter said that the foot does not bother him when he swings the bat; he has run the bases about five times, having spent time at the club’s makeshift alternate site in Somerset, N.J. The Yankees had Carpenter work out at first base and shag balls in the outfield on Saturday.
“He’s been working his butt off to get back, so it’s been cool to see,” Giancarlo Stanton said. “He’s going to help us tremendously.”
Boone said that Andrew Benintendi “seems like a long shot for this round, but he is getting close” as he recovers from right wrist surgery.
G in the OF?
Stanton has not played a defensive inning since July 21 at Houston, shortly before the All-Star Game MVP was sidelined with left Achilles tendinitis.
The Yankees have been hesitant to send Stanton back to the outfield, fearing a re-aggravation, but Stanton could now see some defensive reps with Carpenter likely limited to DH or pinch-hitting duties early in the playoffs.
“Whatever’s going to help the team the most,” Stanton said. “With Carpenter coming back, you can’t envision going straight from a broken foot to the outfield. If [playing in the outfield] is something that’s going to work out and make us the best, complete team, we’ll definitely take a look at it.”
With the roster still to be set, the Yanks’ outfield choices for the ALDS figure to be Aaron Judge, Harrison Bader, Oswaldo Cabrera, Aaron Hicks and perhaps Stanton.
“It’s something he and I have talked about, as long as he’s feeling good, making sure he’s getting his work out there,” Boone said. “I don’t anticipate it early in this series, but I want it in there so it’s a potential option. G and I are on board with that.”