The Yankees’ power surge continues to roll on after their impressive 9-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS on Monday night. And they’re looking to carry that over into Game 2 on Tuesday night with another formidable pitcher on the mound in 6-foot-8 flamethrower Tyler Glasnow.
But the Yankees have the exact opposite of Gerrit Cole pitching for them in this one. Deivi Garcia will make his first career postseason start at 21 years old against a solid Rays lineup he didn’t face in the regular season.
So the storylines and keys to success for the Yanks are much different than Game 1. Let’s break down what they need to do to handle the Rays yet again to secure a solid 2-0 lead in the series:
Good ‘swing decisions’ against Glasnow
SNY’s Andy Martino broke down how the Yankees have gotten two aces – Indians’ Shane Bieber and Rays’ Blake Snell – to crack this postseason, and it starts with good “swing decisions” as the team has been saying recently. Basically, that means the Yankees are patiently waiting for the right time to strike at the plate. A combination of working the count and being aggressive at the right time.
Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done, but the Yankees have been making it work. With Snell Monday night, that meant laying off his curveball that was catching dirt and jumping on the fastball when it was in the zone.
Well, Glasnow is kind of the same pitcher as Snell. He’s a heavy fastball thrower (60.6 percent of his pitches), while the curveball (34.8 percent of his pitches) is the out pitch. He’ll mix in a power changeup here and there, but Glasnow truly lives and dies by those two pitches because they’re so good.
The Yankees need to use the same approach they have with these power pitchers: Don’t chase that curveball out of the zone and attack the fastball. It’s been working so why stray away from that model?
Limit Randy Arozarena
He’s the hottest hitter on the Rays right now, and he was hitting missiles off Cole last night. His three hits off the Yankees’ ace, which included a homer in his first at-bat, registered over 100 mph in exit velocity.
As the Rays’ No. 3 hitter, Arozarena isn’t just someone that looks to drive runs in but he can also lead off an inning with a quick double and put pitchers in holes. And he’s a tough at-bat to begin with because of his good pitch selection. Cole was getting behind him early, which forced the fastball to come in and he pounced.
Garcia will certainly have him circled on his list of players to limit, and he can use his off-speed to get him off balance. But if he falls behind, Garcia -- who tends to go right at hitters -- may want to use the fastball to get a strike. He better hope it’s dotted on a corner somewhere if that’s the case, or Arozarena will make you pay.
Just breathe, Deivi
Garcia can say all he wants leading up to the game, whether that’s excitement or just trying to help his team get a win. But the nervous butterflies will eventually kick in once gametime approaches and it’s time to step on the diamond.
When that happens, Garcia just needs to take a deep breath and trust in his stuff. The Yankees put him in this position knowing that he has the stuff and the confidence to get the job done. There is no need to worry about going the distance or making perfect pitches.
Garcia needs to simply limit the damage, trust the Yankees’ offense will continue their outburst of runs, and not dig a hole too deep to get out of. The Rays are a tough lineup to navigate because they make each out hard, but Garcia truly has nothing to lose here. A calm and collected manner will lead to quality pitches, and if Garcia can get on a roll early, we’ll see why manager Aaron Boone had no qualms naming him the Game 2 starter.