NEW YORK — We can put to rest the speculation. The Minnesota Twins have announced that José Berríos will start Game 1 of the ALDS.
Berríos posted a 3.68 ERA this season in 32 starts for the Twins, with a 195:51 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Manager Rocco Baldelli picked the 25-year-old righty to make the start Friday, which will be the biggest outing of his MLB career to date.Berríos has also pitched for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and made two MLB all-star games.
“There’s not one reason for it,” Baldelli said of Berríos getting the assignment.”I think there are a number of reasons for it. Jose’s had a very, very nice year. He’s thrown the ball very well. I think the way that our pitching lines up, we can talk about performance. We can talk about matchups. We can talk about the ballpark that we’re playing in. We can talk about a lot of different things. There’s not one reason for it. I thought Jose fit very well in this spot.
“It gives us an opportunity to — who knows where the series is going to go. We have a chance to bring him back and have him ready to go again, but I don’t have a way to put a bow on it and tell you why. I just thought he was the right guy.”
Berríos, who pitched in relief of starter Ervin Santana in the Twins’ 8-4 wild card loss to the Yankees in 2017 in New York, said he has known he was going to pitch in Game 1 for about a week. Asked how much he has matured since that game, Berríos said: “I think a lot. Since then, I’ve grown a lot as a player, inning by inning, game by game, I gain a lot of experience, and I think that’s going to help me tomorrow night.”
Berríos gave up three earned runs and five hits in three innings of work that night. He struck out four.
The Yankees will counter with lefty James Paxton in their home ballpark. Game 2 will be started by Masahiro Tanaka and Game 3 goes to Luis Severino, according to Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
Baldelli declined to say who would start Game 2 for the Twins on Saturday and Jake Odorizzi, a logical candidate to make that start, said reporters would have to ask the manager if they wanted answers. Odorizzi later said he did not know if he would be starting Saturday in the Bronx.