New York Yankees: CC Sabathia, Aaron Hicks healthy for ALCS

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 23: Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Minnesota Twins during the game on July 23, 2019 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Yankees defeated the Twins 14-12 in ten innings (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 23: Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Minnesota Twins during the game on July 23, 2019 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Yankees defeated the Twins 14-12 in ten innings (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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The New York Yankees may be getting some reinforcements in time for the ALCS.

While the New York Yankees hardly needed any reinforcements in its lopsided three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins, the Pinstripes have some help on the way, should they choose to use it.

Yankees’ skipper Aaron Boone must now decide whether to reinstate two veterans who have both suffered varying injuries throughout the 2019 campaign. Centerfielder Aaron Hicks has been on the shelf with a flexor tendon issue in his throwing elbow since August 3.

Hicks told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he is “definitely ready to go out there and play.”

Hicks joined the team at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday after working out at the club’s facility in Tampa, Florida, during the ALDS, according to Jake Seiner of the AP. Due to rain, Hicks faced live pitching in a clubhouse cage and did other work.

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Hicks hit .235/.325/.443 with 12 home runs in 59 games this year, but is also widely considered to be an elite defender. He made one of the Yankees’ most memorable plays of the regular season to preserve a wild 14-12 victory over the Twins in late July.

This defensive boost would come at the expense of outfielder Cameron Maybin, who has had a resurgent 2019 season and went yard in the ninth inning of Game 3, or pinch-runner/utility man extraordinaire Tyler Wade.

“Obviously hasn’t had the kind of reps or games that you’d like, but he has certainly put himself in a position to be considered,” Boone said.

LHP CC Sabathia, on the other hand, threw an inning out of relief for the first time in his career during the final week of the regular season, but needed a cortisone shot in his left shoulder. Sabathia threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, and may now have the opportunity to pitch his way to a second world series ring.

“Frankly, looked really good,” Boone said Wednesday afternoon. “I was really excited about how he looked.”

While Sabathia labored to a 4.95 ERA in 107.1 innings this season, it’s hard to leave a pitcher with 3,000 career strikeouts and 250 wins off a postseason roster. Sabathia is notably the only player aside from Brett Gardner to have been on the Yankees’ most recent World Series championship team back in 2009.

“I think that’s the biggest thing: How is he going to be able to recover?” Boone said. “Do we think he can pitch in a game and legitimately bounce back and be an option the next day if he were to face a hitter or something like that?”

Should Sabathia pass Boone’s test, he’d likely serve as a left-handed specialist out of the ‘pen. The Yankees deployed LHP Tyler Lyons for this role in the ALDS, who allowed a whopping nine runs over just 12.2 combined regular season innings with the Yankees and Pittsburg Pirates. Lyons did notably retire the side in order with two strikeouts in Game 2 of the ALDS.

Boone has yet to decide whether to man the ALCS roster with 12 or 13 arms. Should Sabathia replace Lyons as the left-handed specialist, the Yankees have plenty of other bullpen reinforcements if management elects to carry 13 pitchers, unlike the 12 it used in the ALDS.

Sabathia may not even be as capable at this point in his career as these other pitchers left off the ALDS roster, but it is understandable why Boone might elect to deploy a future hall of famer in his final season.

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Boone could tap LHPs Jordan Montgomery or Nestor Cortes Jr. if he wants to use the team’s 25th roster spot for a long-reliever. He could also call on RHP Cory Gearrin for an extra middle reliever to even-out the team’s three left-handed relievers — Sabathia, Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton.