Before the ALDS began, one might have thought manager Aaron Boone would use the same rotation he had in the Wild Card Round against the Indians, deploying Gerrit Cole in Game 1 followed by Masahiro Tanaka in Game 2 and go from there.
But Deivi Garcia will make his first postseason start in Game 2 on Tuesday night, while Tanaka prepares for his outing in Game 3 on Wednesday night.
It may have surprised some, but Tanaka didn't shake his head or lose sleep over it in the slightest.
"I was not really surprised when they told me that I was going in Game 3. Just because I didn’t really care where I was pitching," he told reporters before Game 2.
It's a very Tanaka-esque response there, as the veteran right-hander doesn't care where he is in the rotation -- only the opponent he'll be facing that day.
Tanaka also very clearly knows why the Yankees are using him in Game 3, but he won't be releasing that information.
"I can’t really go into the details as to why we’re doing this, but I have prepared myself to pitch for Game 3.”
As we wrote earlier, Tanaka makes the most sense for Game 3 in a best-of-five series. That's always the pivotal game in this format, and Boone want to go with the guy the Yankees have been able to trust in October for years.
For example, say the Yankees win on Tuesday. Tanaka is set up to end the series with a sweep. If that doesn't happen and the Rays tie the series up, the Yankees will want a seasoned veteran to lead them on the mound to take control of the series again, giving them the best chance to go up 2-1.
Tanaka is the perfect pitcher for both roles.
As for pitching in a much different ballpark than he's used to this time of year -- Petco Park in San Diego -- he has no qualms.
"I actually don’t look at it as that big of a challenge," he said. "I’ve been to new stadiums when I first came here, everyone I went was a new stadium and you kinda adjust as you go. So I haven’t been here that often, but I’m not really worried about that.”
He will be happy that SoCal weather is in his favor compared to the rain delay he had to experience in Cleveland in Game 2 of the Wild Card Round.
No matter the weather, the stadium or what game it is, Tanaka will be ready to go.