The Yankees, as it’s been all season, are day-to-day when it comes to who’s available and who is not. At least a few things are clearing up though – good and bad…
While Yankee’s skipper Aaron Boone is trying to formulate a roster of his best 25 men for the postseason, news continues to filter out about the progress – or not – of the players he can count on to be ready.
Today, Boone succumbed to the realization that the Yankees will need to do without Aaron Hicks in the lineup. Boone conceded that Hicks, who has been on the injured list since Aug. 4 due to a right flexor strain is “still not quite where he needs to be to start ramping up’’ his baseball activity. (North Jersey.com)
While not a big surprise considering that Hicks has been on the IL for most of the season with this or that, it does limit Boone’s options.
Especially when it comes to drawing up the position players who will formulate the postseason roster. A switch hitter, Aaron Hicks, is seen as a “balancer” in the Yankees lineup and his presence is bound to be missed.
Auditioning Continues In Trenton
With Double-A Trenton as the only available outlet in the Yankee’s farm system still playing, the team in New Jersey is the benefactor during their playoff games. Rehabbing Yankees like Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, and soon Giancarlo Stanton who is scheduled to join the team on Tuesday.
Severino is by far the most advanced and close to rejoining the Yankees. His role on the team is yet to be determined but he has been penciled in to start against the Angels on Wednesday.
If Severino shows any stamina at all (read pitch count and command), he’s in the rotation for the Yankee’s postseason. Regularly in previous outings, Severino is hitting 97-98 with no signs of a setback.
The Yankees are well-stocked in their bullpen and, conceivably, can make it through without missing a beat and Betances. But as an option for Boone, he is plus-plus. The fact this is his walk-year also motivates Betances and free agency is on the horizon in November. A good showing means bigger bucks.
The Yankees “Decider”
Giancarlo Stanton, in a multitude of ways, is the most significant question mark for the Yankees. Manager Aaron Boone told reporters in Boston that “Stanton could return sometime during the team’s next homestand, which begins Sept. 17”.
It leaves the former National League MVP only a week and a half at most to find his swing before the October pressure cooker begins. (New York Daily News)
Could return, of course, is the key phrase. Without saying so, and with Mike Tauchman‘s injury pushing him out for the season, the Yankees must be in an acceleration mode when it comes to Stanton.
The Yankees are noted for taking extra care with players who are injured, but the imminent force of the postseason may qualify as a now or never situation.
Aaron Boone still has options if Stanton falters in his rehab, or perhaps more significantly, with a poor a display of at-bats when he sees live pitching again.
Cameron Maybin, who himself is nursing a sore wrist is Boone’s likely first choice in left field, moving Brett Gardner to center.
Clint Frazier, if he can reproduce the explosive bat he wielded before he was sent down to Triple-A Scranton, is a factor as well. But that depends on how much Aaron Boone wants to wager defensively.
Last resorts include Tyler Wade and Breyvic Valera, whom Boone will play extensively in the outfield over the next two-and-a-half as much as he can afford.
Yankees: The Juggling And Balancing Act Continues
The balancing act remains strong, however, given the Yankees competition with the Astros and Dodgers for home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
The wild card in the mix, still, is Giancarlo Stanton. Which player will show up in those limited at-bats he is due to get before the bell rings and the Yankees are playing Game 1 of the ALDS?
Inevitably though, if Stanton is healthy – he’s in. And the Yankees tide will turn up or down with him smack in the middle of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Gleyber Torres in the lineup. While the starting rotation is sorting itself out, the position players – not so much.
No one ever said this was going to be easy…