“We’re going to be a little untraditional,” manager Aaron Boone said. “The only one we might use as a traditional starter is [James] Paxton.”
By traditional, Boone means a starting pitcher who goes as deep as he can into a game. Otherwise, New York is prepared to script each game with piggyback starters and six key relievers. That doesn’t make the Yankees vulnerable. It makes them smart.
We live in the age of The Opener and Bullpenning™ so this is not necessarily novel, but it is novel for the Yankees. At least in the postseason. Due to injuries and ineffectiveness of multiple starters they’ve been doing a whole heck of a lot of bullpenning in the second half and it’s worked out for them pretty well. The key to that is that Boone has been pretty good of not overworking everyone. Which, to be fair, is pretty easy to do when you have a massive lead in the standings and your offense is able to carry you.
The postseason is a difference beast, of course. Whereas in August or early September Boone can afford to leave Aroldis Chapman on the bench as the opposition threatens in the ninth in order to save his arm, you can’t really do that in October. Yes, there are off days for travel, but the higher-leverage of each and every postseason out makes it more likely that the relievers will be ridden harder. Having six of them, and multiple starters who can go on shorter rest due to shorter outings can work, but all it takes is one disaster game — and in the mega juiced ball postseasons we’ve seen the past couple of years, there are a lot of them — to mess up such plans. If that happens, Boone’s ability to improvise will be tested.