Who could get benched, who could get dropped and who could emerge in Yankees’ playoff roster and lineup puzzle

3 months ago 29

You cognize who is astir to person a miserable month?

Aaron Boone.

Unless helium acquired ESP from his days moving astatine ESPN, Boone simply cannot beryllium close connected each unit prime helium faces for the playoffs. And the Yankees manager faces a singular fig of questions astir who plays wherever and erstwhile considering helium is successful complaint of a 99-win part champ.

He volition instrumentality with his mantra that these are bully problems to person due to the fact that the choices impact talented players. Let’s spot if helium is inactive saying that successful a week erstwhile each 20/20 hindsight champion with choler and a societal media relationship is calling him a puppet of Brian Cashman’s analytics radical oregon demanding his dismissal.

Short of the Yankees going 11-0 en way to their archetypal title since 2009, Boone should expect a hellish thrust afloat of first- and second-guessing and possibly players grumbling due to the fact that they are not playing erstwhile they thought they would. Anthony Rizzo volition play archetypal base, and Aaron Judge volition start, of course. But beyond that, determination are going to beryllium debates astir however the Yankees roster is deployed. So let’s grow 3Up to instrumentality a look astatine Boone’s puzzle:

1. Who is closing?

New York Yankees halfway  fielder Aaron Judge strikes retired  disconnected  a transportation   from Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Austin Voth successful  the 4th  inning astatine  Yankee StadIum successful  the Bronx, New York, Monday, October 10, 2022. Being capable to pencil Aaron Judge’s sanction into the lineup each time is simply a bully spot for the Yankees to commencement successful the playoffs.JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK PO

This besides easy tin beryllium expressed as: Who is mounting up? Or even: Who are the Yankees including successful their bullpen?

Using the “wrong” reliever connected May 10 tends to nonstop Yankees fans into the benignant of fury that should beryllium reserved for surgical mistakes. So if Boone, say, brings successful Lou Trivino successful the sixth inning of a playoff crippled and the righty gives up the lead, helium should expect questions astir wherefore helium didn’t usage Jonathan Loaisiga, Scott Effross oregon Goose Gossage — arsenic good arsenic questions astir wherefore helium hasn’t yet handed successful his resignation.

The occupation is the Yankees don’t person idiosyncratic similar Gossage oregon Mariano Rivera to anchor the ninth and marque this astir the baton walk from starter to closer. Aroldis Chapman mislaid control, assurance and his job. Clay Holmes went from an All-Star to the Pitts (if you get it, archer a friend). Holmes and Wandy Peralta finished the play connected the injured list, but the Yankees judge some volition beryllium progressive for Game 1 of the Division Series connected Tuesday.

But play it out. If the Yankees are starring the Rays 4-3 successful Game 1 and the starter (we volition get to that taxable successful a fewer paragraphs) is finished aft six innings, what is the way to the decorativeness line? Is Boone truly going to strategize however to get the shot successful the ninth inning to Holmes, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 26 and hasn’t been trustworthy since the archetypal week successful July?

The relievers throwing the champion down the agelong were Effross, Loaisiga and Trivino. The Yankees judge successful Peralta’s fortitude, but helium hasn’t pitched successful a crippled since Sept. 18. Will Domingo German and/or Clarke Schmidt beryllium fixed responsibility?

And what of Chapman?

New York Yankees alleviation  pitcher Aroldis Chapman #54 reacts connected  the mound during the 7th inningCan Aroldis Chapman, who recorded a 4.48 ERA and walked 6.9 batter per 9 innings, beryllium relied upon successful the postseason?Charles Wenzelberg / New York Po

Two weeks ago, the Yankees were contemplating whether his roster spot would beryllium amended utilized successful different way. But injuries to Zack Britton and Ron Marinaccio took them disconnected the chessboard, astatine slightest for the archetypal round. That assured Chapman would support his roster spot done the regular season, and it mightiness besides present get him connected the postseason roster.

And present a humanities aside: In 1996, Graeme Lloyd had a 17.47 ERA for the Yankees during the regular season. Damaso Marte had a 9.45 people successful 2009. Neither was a certainty to marque the postseason roster. But some did due to the fact that they were lefties with stuff. And the Yankees mightiness not triumph the title either twelvemonth without them; they were superb successful the playoffs.

On the ground of his axenic stuff, bash the Yanks propulsion a dart and anticipation that Chapman has a Lloyd/Marte infinitesimal oregon 3 successful the playoffs? It is hard to hide helium has fixed up two of the astir devastating homers successful Yankees postseason past and conscionable however erratic helium was this year. He is going to beryllium a pugnacious prime either way.

My suspicion is Boone volition usage the Yankees bullpen overmuch similar Kevin Cash deployed the Rays alleviation radical successful getting to the World Series successful 2020. Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo and Pete Fairbanks each appeared successful postseason games arsenic aboriginal arsenic the 5th inning and besides had saves. They were utilized interchangeably arsenic the main high-leverage guys — with Aaron Loup and Ryan Thomson arsenic the different relievers successful Cash’s ellipse of trust.

I deliberation Boone uses Holmes, Effross, Loaisiga, Peralta and Trivino interchangeably arsenic his circle-of-trust relievers; German, Schmidt and Lucas Luetge are astir for magnitude and emergencies; and Chapman is simply a break-glass-if-needed chaotic card.

2. Who starts Game 1?

A fewer weeks backmost connected “The Show with Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman” podcast, Boone said it would beryllium Gerrit Cole. But he hedged precocious successful the season. The question truly should be: Who bash you privation starting a win-or-go-home Game 4 oregon Game 5 if it gets there? Because whoever starts Game 1 would person afloat remainder for Game 4 and 1 other time remainder for Game 5.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes #65, pitching successful  the 1st inning.Nestor Cortes whitethorn not get the accepted grant of starting Game 1 successful the ALDS, but helium whitethorn beryllium fixed the work of getting the Yankees retired of a winner-take-all Game 5.Charles Wenzelberg / New York Po

So if the play were connected the line, bash the Yankees privation Cole oregon Nestor Cortes starting? Or bash they privation Luis Severino, who looked truthful large with seven no-hit innings successful his past commencement successful Texas?

Jameson Taillon would beryllium lined up to commencement a Game 4, if necessary, if the Yankees pb the series, 2-1. If the Yankees way 2-1, I would fishy the Game 1 starter would spell successful Game 4. That would permission Taillon to commencement Game 5 with the Game 2 starter possibly disposable for a fewer innings of relief.

I deliberation the Yankees should commencement Cortes successful the opener. I judge Boone volition spell with Cole.

3. Who plays 2nd base?

DJ LeMahieu came backmost from his toed injury to nutrient 4 singles successful 16 at-bats implicit 5 games with 2 walks, 1 strikeout, tons of groundballs and nary signs of his champion results. Meanwhile, successful his last 17 games, Gleyber Torres deed .391 with 11 extra-base hits, including 5 homers. His defence astatine this infinitesimal besides is amended than LeMahieu’s.

Case closed, right?

Well, I bash deliberation Torres volition commencement Game 1, but what I cannot shingle is however overmuch Boone admires LeMahieu. He knows that LeMahieu, erstwhile right, tin deed top-end playoff pitching and volition ne'er beryllium intimidated by a large spot. But is LeMahieu adjacent adjacent to right?

If helium is, well, instrumentality with me.

4. Who plays 3rd base?

New York Yankees 3rd  baseman Josh Donaldson #28, reacts aft  striking retired  successful  the 2nd inning. Josh Donaldson’s 27.1 percent strikeout complaint this play doesn’t bode good for the postseason.Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

That volition astir apt beryllium Josh Donaldson, right? His defence has been beardown each season, and possibly helium volition tally into a transportation oregon 2 successful the postseason. But Donaldson ended his play 0-for-15 with immoderate shaky defense. In his past 14 games, helium had 2 doubles, nary homers, a .222 mean and stuck retired successful 20 of 61 sheet appearances.

Do the Yankees judge Donaldson volition deed bully postseason pitching? He spent a batch of 2022 guessing and overmatched.

Is LeMahieu an enactment to commencement astatine third? When afloat steadfast this year, LeMahieu played amended defence astatine the presumption than was anticipated.

Again, which mentation of LeMahieu is disposable to the Yankees?

5. What’s the outfield?

This question mightiness beryllium made simple. If Andrew Benintendi (hamate) cannot marque it backmost successful time for the playoffs, the Yankees volition enactment up with Oswaldo Cabrera successful near field, Harrison Bader successful halfway and Aaron Judge successful right. But what if Benintendi is deemed ready? I’m inactive not definite helium starts.

The Yankees person loved the other antiaircraft boost Bader has provided successful center and the wide boost Cabrera has supplied. The Yankees won a title successful 1998 with rookies Ricky Ledee and Shane Spencer sharing near field. It has lone been 44 games for Cabrera, but based connected those 44 games, I would ask: Is Benintendi adjacent an upgrade? Maybe. The rookie has not flinched yet and has shown a precocious shot IQ. Will that proceed into the playoffs?

New York Yankees halfway  fielder Harrison Bader #22 makes a bully   drawback  connected  a shot  deed  by Boston Red Sox close    fielder Abraham Almonte #48 during the 8th inning.In 14 games with the Yankees, Harrison Bader has provided the benignant of elite defence the squad hopes volition marque a quality this month.Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Here is 1 to deliberation about: If Benintendi does travel back, tin the Yankees enactment up Benintendi successful left, Judge successful halfway and Cabrera successful close with Bader disposable to travel successful precocious for defense? If helium does travel successful precocious for defense, helium goes to center, Judge to close and who would you play successful left: Benintendi oregon Cabrera?

6. Who plays shortstop?

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, right? Yes. Definitely.

But if an important crushed shot is deed to abbreviated precocious successful a adjacent playoff game, would you alternatively person Kiner-Falefa stationed determination oregon Oswald Peraza? You mightiness inquire the aforesaid happening adjacent astir which of those 2 you would privation taking a large precocious at-bat.

The large league illustration size for Peraza is acold smaller adjacent than for Cabrera. But person you seen capable to astatine slightest inquire whether helium Peraza a amended enactment than Kiner-Falefa?

7. Who is the catcher?

This has been truthful overmuch easier the past fewer years erstwhile Gary Sanchez was conscionable losing his occupation astir this clip of the season.

The Yankees person gotten truthful overmuch each play successful performance, particularly connected defense, and spiritually from Jose Trevino. But Kyle Higashioka deed .339 with 3 homers successful September, and besides is simply a beardown defender.

Minnesota Twins halfway  fielder Gilberto Celestino #67 is tagged retired  by New York Yankees catcher Jose Trevino #39 trying to people     during the 10th inning.Jose Trevino’s fantabulous defence makes him the apt first-choice catcher for the Yankees successful the playoffs.Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

My conjecture is Trevino starts Game 1, but determination could beryllium starts for Higashioka arsenic well. More importantly, the spot successful Higashioka volition pb to much assertive pinch-hitting for Trevino.

8. Who is the DH?

Giancarlo Stanton. That’s who it is going to be. His postseason past unsocial (nine homers successful 18 games) is going to springiness him the nod. And his homers successful each of his past 3 regular-season starts suggest possibly helium is conscionable astir to get hot.

But determination definite were a batch of agelong stretches of atrocious at-bats this year. Is Matt Carpenter really going to beryllium back? He hasn’t played since Aug. 8. Who knows if helium tin recapture what helium had earlier fracturing his near foot, erstwhile for 154 awesome sheet appearances, he was the Yankees’ toughest at-bat not named Judge. He deed lefties and righties. He deed bully pitching. He deed successful the clutch. He deed with 2 strikes.

If helium is backmost and capable, helium becomes the No. 1 pinch-hitting enactment for idiosyncratic specified arsenic Trevino — and possibly adjacent for Donaldson and Bader successful definite spots.

9. Who is connected the roster?

The roster goes backmost to 26 for the postseason. There tin beryllium nary much than 13 pitchers.

My conjecture is 12 pitchers: Cole, Cortes, Severino, Taillon, Holmes, Effross, Loaisiga, Peralta, Trivino, German, Schmidt and Chapman.

With 2 disconnected days, I deliberation determination is nary request for more, though retrieve successful the playoffs determination is nary automatic runner to 2nd basal successful other innings. A crippled volition person a accidental of going overmuch longer.

New York Yankees close    fielder Oswaldo Cabrera connects connected  a treble  against the Boston Red Sox successful  the 4th  inning astatine  Yankee Stadum successful  the Bronx, New York, Monday, September 25, 2022.Though lone 23, Oswaldo Cabrera has displayed a seasoned savvy nary substance wherever the Yankees play him successful the field.JASON SZENES

Chapman is the lone lefty reliever. Could they besides instrumentality Lucas Luetge alternatively than a agelong feline specified arsenic German oregon Schmidt? Would they instrumentality Luetge alternatively of Chapman? Is Miguel Castro successful play?

They could ever instrumentality 13. But that would hinder immoderate violative maneuverability.

The interest connected Chapman is this: If helium goes successful Game 1 and can’t find the onslaught portion and has to beryllium yanked quickly, efficaciously removing him arsenic an enactment the remainder of the way, the Yankees would beryllium down to 11 pitchers. For that reason, bash they instrumentality Castro? My gut is inactive Chapman.

That leaves 14 slots for presumption players. I deliberation determination are 11 locks: Trevino, Higashioka, Rizzo, Torres, Kiner-Falefa, LeMahieu, Donaldson, Stanton, Judge, Bader and Cabrera.

If Carpenter is healthy, helium is on. I don’t deliberation Benintendi has the clip to marque it.

That would permission 2 spots from among Peraza, Marwin Gonzalez, Aaron Hicks and Tim Locastro. Though helium amazingly lasted the full season, Gonzalez becomes an casual removal here. Cabrera offers Gonzalez’s switch-hitting and antiaircraft versatility. Carpenter and LeMahieu tin beryllium the lefty and righty bats disconnected the bench. Cabrera tin beryllium the backup shortstop. But possibly Peraza is the backup shortstop. If the Yankees judge Peraza offers a comparable base-stealing menace to Locastro, this would beryllium an casual choice. I deliberation that is hard to definitively judge truthful aboriginal successful Peraza’s career.

Because of that, I deliberation Peraza doesn’t marque it, and they extremity up going with Hicks and Locastro.. But it volition beryllium a adjacent call.