When the Yankees lineup was announced on Wednesday, it was met with a collective groan from Yankee fans. Sanchez already on the DL. No Judge? No Bird? No Romine? Why is Luis Cessa starting when it would be CC’s turn on regular rest? It seemed as if the Yankees were throwing in the towel after winning the first two games of the series on the road, and had mentally moved onto Boston. This is a dangerous mindset, and one that could backfire come October.
Baseball is a 162 game grind, and every starter can’t play every day. But with Sanchez already out of the lineup and the backup catcher Romine needing a rest, this simply wasn’t the day to rest Aaron Judge. The Yankees have an off day on today and an off day next Thursday.
Furthermore, they could DH Judge for one of the games this weekend if they are really concerned about rest. Sitting Bird also made zero sense. He finally made some good contact on Tuesday and may have been starting to find his stroke. Why sit him against a righty when you have to face three tough lefties this weekend? Bird is clearly not going to play all three games this weekend, so starting Neil Walker, who is 3 for his last 34 while hitting a paltry .185, was an obvious head scratcher.
Despite those two lineup gaffes, the biggest mystery of all was why the Yankees decided to start Luis Cessa instead of CC Sabathia on regular rest. Boone reasoned that he wanted to save CC for Friday against Boston, but does that really justify it? Sabathia is a great pitcher, but I don’t think it was worth throwing a game to guarantee him a Boston start.
A rotation of CC Wednesday, Sonny Friday, German Saturday, and Sevy on Sunday would have gotten everybody a start on regular rest without having to throw Cessa. Look, I get it, the Boston series is much more important than an inter-league series with the Phillies, but Cessa starting a game this week was completely unnecessary. He’s an average long reliever at best who hasn’t won a game since 2016.
The logic from Boone and Cashman was clear: We won the first two games of the series, and with an off day Thursday, let’s get everyone rested and ready to go for the Boston series. That’s all well and good, but while the Yankees were resting everyone and mailing in the game, the Red Sox were thumping the Angels, 9-6 and have now taken over first place in the A.L. East.
We know how important home field advantage is to this team come playoff time. One or two games could be the difference between the Yankees playing a game 7 in Yankee Stadium as opposed to on the road at Fenway or Minute maid park.
If the Yankees finish one or two games out of the top seed in the American League, remember this game and a 7-8-9 that featured three automatic outs in Neil Walker, Kyle Higashioka, and Luis Cessa.