Yankees’ Aaron Boone explains confusing Deivi Garcia usage in ALDS Game 2 loss to Rays

Yankees’ Aaron Boone explains confusing Deivi Garcia usage in ALDS Game 2 loss to Rays


If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

That’s the ages-old adage, and it’s never been more true than with the Yankees this year — and it was very apparent in the Yankees’ Game 2 loss to the Rays.

The Yankees decided to start 21-year-old super-prospect Deivi García in Game 2 of their ALDS leg vs. the Rays, but with a twist: García only pitched an inning, being used as a de facto opener, a strategy the Rays have employed to perfection over the past few years.

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While eyebrows were raised when García was named Game 2 starter, voices were raised and angry tweets were sent when JA Happ began loosening just three pitches into the game. Happ would enter the game as the “bulk guy,” walking three and giving up four runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings. It wasn’t a stellar performance.

Still, the Yankees’ decision to use García as an opener was met with criticism from all corners of the baseball world. Boone explained the baffling decision after the loss:

The Yankees’ plan to counter the Rays’ heavy lefty lineup backfired, and Happ allowed five of eight lefty hitters he faced to reach base. The Yankees lost 7-5, and Happ also voiced some displeasure with his Game 2 role:

“Just ’cause they’re so good at — their roster’s built to take advantage of the platoon advantage,” Boone said. “Felt like I was gonna go to JA pretty early and aggressively, as long as they went with the heavy lefty lineup, and that was the reason. …

“It was a little lineup-based, but he kinda labored a little bit through that first inning. He was on the verge of getting out of it, though, with two strikes on Arozarena when he gets him, clips him. That was the plan all along: We were gonna go short with him, knowing we will have Deivi available later in the series if need be, too.”

While García was a bit of a mixed bag in his shortened debut with the Yankees in 2020, there’s some cause for pause when it comes to the Yankees’ strategy in Game 2. Hindsight is 20/20, but consider the following:

  • Regardless of García’s Game 2 use, wouldn’t it make more sense to use playoff ace Masahiro Tanaka to start Game 2? A Tanaka win gives you three tries to get one win in a five-game series.
  • With no days off during the series, it doesn’t much make sense to utilize a bullpen-heavy approach. Not only do you run the risk of tiring guys out, but Rays hitters getting to see Yankees relief pitching often throughout a five-game series seems advantageous for Tampa Bay.
  • Happ has been … less than good as a Yankee overall, and the Yankees’ faith in him as a postseason performer hasn’t exactly been apparent. After his 2018 start vs. the Red Sox went awry (five runs in two innings), New York hasn’t allowed him to start a game. Couple that with his mercurial 2020 performance and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

The Yankees and Rays play again Wednesday night, with the Yankees operating as home team. We’ll see whether New York has anymore tricks up its pinstripes.


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