ARLINGTON -- James Paxton is a leading candidate to take the ball against the Twins in next week's Game 1 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, and the Yankees' left-hander believes he will have no difficulty preparing for that potential assignment.
Paxton threw only one inning in his final regular-season start on Friday, tossing 21 pitches in the Yanks' 14-7 victory over the Rangers before leaving with discomfort in his left glute. Paxton was diagnosed with nerve irritation after undergoing an MRI on Saturday.
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"It feels better today," Paxton said. "I'm on some pills to help calm it down. I'm confident that I'll be ready to go. I'm going to take it easy and let it calm down, and I'll get back in my routine [Sunday] and get ready to roll."
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Paxton completed the regular season, his first in New York, with a 15-6 record and 3.82 ERA in 29 starts. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he is not concerned about the issue carrying over into Paxton's next outing.
"In a normal situation, I think he pitches last night and is able to be really effective moving forward in that game," Boone said. "It was just something where we know the next [start] is really important and didn't want to take any risks."
The Yankees are considering Paxton, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka for the Game 1 start. Paxton said he does not anticipate needing to change his routine as a result of Friday's abbreviated outing, in which he permitted a two-run homer to Danny Santana.
"No, I'm already built up for my pitch count," Paxton said. "I'll just throw a bullpen [session] and I'll be able to throw as many pitches as I need to."
CC you in October
CC Sabathia made the first regular-season relief appearance of his 19-year career on Tuesday against the Rays, and it now appears that it will be his last. Boone said Sabathia is no longer expected to pitch in relief this weekend, saving his bullets to come out of the bullpen in the ALDS.
"I just feel like it's better coming off the relief outing to give him the break, and hopefully that serves him better moving forward," Boone said. "We'll do a sim game Tuesday and Wednesday, and he'll most likely be a part of that. As of right now, we're leaning towards not having him go this weekend."
Sabathia threw 13 pitches in that relief appearance on Tuesday, striking out two. Boone said Sabathia will "probably" be among the 12 or 13 pitchers on the ALDS roster, and that the decision to rest Sabathia is not related to any new physical concerns.
"We feel good enough about it that we want to make sure he's physically in the best spot he can be in," Boone said. "We feel like we know he's game for any role we put him in. We feel like he'll be ready for that if we put him in that spot."
If Sabathia does not appear again, he will complete his career with a 251-161 record and 3.74 ERA in 561 games. Sabathia's 3,093 strikeouts rank 16th all-time.
Worth the wait
There were those within the Yankees' organization who feared this might wind up as a lost season for Michael King, who was sidelined for most of the year due to a stress reaction in his right elbow. King refused to believe that.
The 24-year-old made his Major League debut in Friday's victory over the Rangers, hurling two innings with a strikeout while allowing two hits and an unearned run. King is rated as the Yanks' No. 19 prospect by MLB Pipeline.
"It was awesome. Long-awaited," King said. "I felt very confident, very in control. I think it was because I've been here for a few days, so I got used to my surroundings, all the players, staff. It's something I'll never forget."
King said the outing will permit him to end his season on a positive note, having been limited to 46 innings by the injury. King said he watched the Yankees and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre frequently during his time in Tampa, Fla., and those televised games served as fuel.
"I felt like a kid looking out the window at all my friends playing and I've got to be stuck inside," King said. "As much as it added to the frustration, it also added to my motivation to be part of it."
The Yankees plan to use an opener ahead of Tanaka in Sunday's regular-season finale, Boone said, with the identity of that pitcher depending on the outcome of Saturday's game. It is possible that the Yankees could try something similar in the ALDS; they are 11-3 in games opened by Chad Green.
If at first
Luke Voit has struggled of late, entering Saturday with one hit in his last 29 at-bats (.034) with 12 strikeouts. Boone believes that Voit hit into tough luck during the Yanks' last homestand, then has started to press for results on the road.
"Sometimes you want it a little too bad instead of just trusting your work, trusting the game plan you have going into that game and understanding that he's a really good hitter," Boone said.
With Voit slumping, Boone said Mike Ford has entered the discussion for a spot on the playoff roster. Ford homered and drove in four runs in Friday's series opener.
"There's no question that since he's come up, really all season long off and on, it's been a quality at-bat," Boone said. "The ability to impact the ball the way he does, to control the strike zone. I would say he's certainly put himself in that conversation."
This date in Yankees history
Sept. 28, 1923: The Yankees set a single-game franchise record that still stands, collecting 30 hits in a 24-4 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park. New York slugged eight doubles and two homers in the rout, paced by Babe Ruth's 5-for-6, three-RBI performance.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.