Despite numbers that indicate a different decision, it is likely Clint Frazier will start in left field on Monday night at Petco Park when the Yankees and Rays play Game 1 of the ALDS.
That’s because if the right-handed hitting Frazier isn’t going to play against lefties like Rays starter Blake Snell, then what role is there for him?
Brett Gardner went 3-for-8 with a homer and three RBIs in two AL wild-card games against the Indians. Frazier finished the regular season in a 1-for-20 slide and Gardner hit .385 (10-for-26) with a .500 on-base average in the final 10 regular-season games. Nevertheless, it’s likely Frazier will get the start in left Monday.
Frazier did hit .250 (8-for-32) against lefties this year, while Gardner batted .211 (4-for-19).
“I haven’t talked to the guys involved yet,’’ manager Aaron Boone said Sunday when asked if Frazier would make his first start in the postseason. “So, I will hold off on that.’’
Although Snell throws from the left side, Gardner is 6-for-21 (.286) against him in his career, while Frazier is 1-for-8 (.125).
Boone said Saturday he had not determined in what order he wanted to use his other starters — Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Deivi Garcia and Jordan Montgomery — after Gerrit Cole goes in Game 1. That was still in play Sunday, when the Yankees worked out at Petco Park.
“We are still having conversations about that, so no decisions yet,’’ Boone said.
Asked what the biggest factor in deciding who follows Cole, Boone said, “Just seeing, obviously we have a good opponent and figuring out how we want to line it up moving forward after Gerrit.’’
On Saturday, Boone said he wasn’t leaning toward using an opener in Game 2.
Tanaka followed Cole in the second game of the wild-card series and gave up six runs and five hits in four innings.
It is possible the Game 1 result will play a big part in Boone’s call for Tuesday’s Game 2 starter.
“We will see about that,” Boone said. “I am continuing conversations with our staff. We are certainly leaning different ways. We will see if I want to wait until that point to announce it.”
Asked for his impression of Petco Park, Boone noticed that work on the fences wasn’t finished a day before Game 1.
“[They] kind of re-wrapped the fence and doesn’t seem to be completed yet. How the ball is going to play out there. I am sure it will be a little bit different [Monday] as they put the finishing touches on prepping the fence,’’ Boone said. “I would say that is the biggest thing that we noticed as they tweak and overhaul the park to be more neutral and not the Padres’ park.’’
The Yankees and Rays have played 399 regular-season games, but Monday night will be their first meeting in the postseason.
This is the fourth time AL East teams will play each other in the ALDS. The Red Sox and Yankees in 2018, the Red Sox and Rays in 2013 and the Yankees and Orioles in 2012. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2018 and 2013.