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.

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:

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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