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Aaron Boone makes curious lineup changes for elimination game

Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK

With his New York Yankees facing elimination in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, Aaron Boone has made some rather notable lineup changes.

Boone has benched slumping starters Miguel Andujar and Andrew McCutchen in favor of Brett Gardner and Neil Walker.

McCutchen hit .255/.368/.424 with 20 home runs on the season and went .253/.421/.471 with five homers in only 25 games with the Yankees. Andujar, meanwhile, went .297/.328/.527 for the year and hit 27 home runs. So, it’s certainly fair to wonder why we’re seeing this change.

One potential reason is that McCutchen and Andujar have both largely struggled against the Red Sox. Cutch is hitting .143/.143/.143 in the series, while Andujar is at a .111/.200/.111 clip.

The bigger issue is arguably the matchups. Gardner is left-handed and Walker is a switch-hitter. So, this will get two more left-handed bats in the lineup against Boston’s start, right-hander Rick Porcello.

During the regular season, lefties hit .241 against Porcello while right-handed hitters were .240. That isn’t much of a difference, but the lefties did hit for far more power. Left-handed hitters slugged at .428 and had 15 home runs against Porcello on the year while right-handed hitters slugged at .272 and had only 12 homers. This is despite the right-handed hitters having 39 more at-bats. The homer difference is especially notable, as righties had 39 more at-bats against Porcello on the year.

Given the struggles of McCutchen and Andujar, as well as the favorable matchups, we certainly understand why this was done. But if Gardner and Walker struggle in a Yankee loss, Boone will certainly open himself up to even more criticism.