Masahiro Tanaka
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Masahiro Tanaka is taking the ball for the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone revealed his hand for the first three games of the ALCS. The Yankee skipper is going with Masahiro Tanaka in Game 1 against the Houston Astros on Saturday.

James Paxton will back him up in Game 2 with Luis Severino slated to take the mound in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.

“Tanaka will go Game 1, Paxton will go in Game 2, and then Sevy will be at home in Game 3, and then we’ll be TBD from there,” Boone told reporters on Friday.

Boone was asked why he chose to flip Paxton and Tanaka after going with Paxton-Tanaka-Severino during the ALDS.

“Again, I felt like it was a good decision — a tough one to be made,” Boone said. “It was similar to the Division Series where I was going back and forth a lot. Just felt like Masa here in Game 1 is the way I wanted to go in the end.”

The calculus changes a bit in a longer series. Tanaka has the most success and experience of the team’s top three starters. The Japanese hurler has a 1.54 postseason ERA. Tanaka always seems to keep the Yankees in the game. He’s pitched at least five innings in all six of his postseason starts and he’s never allowed more than two runs in any of those games.

The Yankees clearly feel confident with Tanaka facing Zack Greinke in Game 1. In 70.2 career postseason innings, Greinke has a 4.58 ERA and his teams are 6-6 in his 12 career starts.

His one start in the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays was a brutal beatdown. He allowed six runs and three home runs in just 3.2 innings of work.

Those pesky Tampa Bay Rays were able to push the Astros to five games so now Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are pushed back to Games 2 and 3, respectively. Paxton and Severino have their work cut out, but if Tanaka can help the Yankees steal Game 1, the Bronx Bombers will put the AL West champions on the ropes.

Winning the series will be a tall order for the Yankees, but they have to be confident in the Game 1 pitching matchup.


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