CLEVELAND – Despite being among the more consistent offensive performers this season, Clint Frazier isn’t guaranteed a spot in the Yankees Game 1 lineup.
"Continue to talk through that today and decide which way we want to go into tomorrow," Aaron Boone said Monday at Progressive Field where his team faces fourth-seeded Cleveland in the best-of-three wild-card round.
With Aaron Judge set to start in right and Aaron Hicks a lock for center the question is whether Frazier, who slumped a bit down the stretch – 1 for his last 20 – but still hit .267 with eight homers and a .905 OPS in 39 games, will start in left or if it’s Brett Gardner.
Frazier has an advantage with the bat and while Gardner is the superior fielder, Frazier has made significant strides in that department this season.
It’s Higgy with Cole
Though he didn’t have a Game 1 lineup to give yet, Boone said Kyle Higashioka, as expected, would catch Gerrit Cole in Game 1 instead of Gary Sanchez, who was miserable at the plate all season, slashing .147/.253/.365 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs in 49 games. Higashioka and Cole, two natives of Southern California who played together in youth league baseball, were terrific this season, including over their final three games together in which the pitcher went 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA.
"Probably because we're both from Southern California," Cole said with a slight grin of their success together. "I mean, we have a lot of the same interests. And Kyle's ability to communicate, be a really creative thinker, good pitch framer, good pitch caller. So we’ve worked out well together."
Quite an endorsement for the 30-year-old Higashioka, a seventh-round pick of the Yankees in 2008, who slashed .250/.250/.521 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games.
"It’s kind of beyond what I would have imagined at the beginning of the season," Higashioka said.