Aaron Boone unsure of Yankees’ ALDS pitching plans beyond Game 1

Aaron Boone said Gerrit Cole will start Game 1 of the ALDS on Monday in San Diego against the Rays, with personal catcher Kyle Higashioka behind the plate instead of Gary Sanchez.

Beyond that, the manager said the rotation is still to be determined, with Masahiro Tanaka not locked into a Game 2 start.

“Gerrit will go in Game 1, and then we’ll figure out the best way to maneuver and line our guys up,’’ Boone said Thursday from Progressive Field in Cleveland, where the Yankees worked out before traveling to San Diego later in the day.

The Yankees made sure to line up Cole and Tanaka for the first two games of the wild-card series well before the season ended.

J.A. Happ was lined up to start Game 3 if the Yankees lost to the Indians on Wednesday and now hasn’t pitched since Sept. 25, meaning he’ll go at least 10 days between outings. It’s a similar setup to earlier in the season, when the left-hander was ineffective and unhappy with the Yankees, believing they were trying to prevent his $17 million option from vesting.

Happ will be in a similar situation as Jordan Montgomery and Deivi Garcia, who also didn’t appear in the wild-card series.

Aaron Boone
Aaron Boone watches from the dugout in the sixth inning of Game 1 against the Cleveland Indians.AP

Those pitchers could throw simulated games over the weekend.

“Certainly, in this year, the coronavirus year of 60 games, our pitchers have already gone through that or missed a few games when we’ve juggled our rotation,’’ Boone said. “You have to deal with that every postseason. … That’s the reality this time of year.”

Even though the Yankees were able to move on to the ALDS, Boone hopes this year’s 16-team playoff format doesn’t continue beyond 2020.

“I wouldn’t want this moving forward,’’ said Boone, adding that an expanded postseason after a 162-game schedule would “go a long way in cheapening the [regular] season.”

Boone said changes to the roster going into the ALDS were “possible.” … The Yankees, after traveling Thursday, are scheduled to be off Friday before working out at Petco Park on Saturday and Sunday. … Tampa Bay GM Erik Neander said OF Austin Meadows could possibly return for this series, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He’s been on the IL with an oblique injury since Sept. 18.

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