The Yankees are leaving their options open when it comes to who makes their postseason roster. Aaron Boone is the maestro and the choices are wide and varied…
The Yankees, due to circumstances beyond their control, do not have room for everybody on the postseason roster. For weeks now, Aaron Boone has been mulling over this combination and that combination, looking for a way to put his best 25 on the field in October.
Making no commitments, Boone has succumbed to the realization that one of the choices he’s faced with is between Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit. If it was 2020, the issue is moot because roster sizes will increase to 26 for both the regular and postseasons. Here’s the problem, and it mostly centers around Voit with the assumption Stanton will be fit and ready to play.
DH and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion is hitting line drives all over the field. He’s healthy, and he’s on the roster. Gio Urshela is scheduled to return to the lineup as soon as tonight to finish up the series in Boston. Urshela is the hands-down choice of Boone to solidify the Yankees infield defensively – so Urshela is on the roster as well. This means that DJ LeMahieu, who absolutely must play, is at first base.
Luke Voit isn’t done yet, though, and if he goes on another hitting tear like he did last September, Boone’s choices become more complicated. Both Voit and Boone agree that health is no longer the issue, with the hernia healed. But Voit is struggling to regain the timing that puts him among the team’s most elite hitters.
Where The Twain Doesn’t Meet
Voit’s doggedness at the plate, never giving up an at-bat, together with his situational hitting are all trademarks of the Yankees this season. They also happen to be the qualities Aaron Boone gushes over.
Which, in turn, brings us back to Giancarlo Stanton. If healthy, the Yankees are pressured to play Stanton. His name, pedigree, and salary are hard to overlook. But at the same time, it’s fair to say Stanton represents the type of player who is the antithesis of the 2019 Yankees. Home run or strike out the Yankees are not.
The choice then is not between Stanton and Voit. Instead, the option is which type of player Boone wants in his lineup.
If Boone goes with Voit, he’s saying we already have enough home run threats in our lineup – how many do we need? By the end of the regular season, the Yankees will have seven regulars with 20 or more home runs in their lineup.
If Boone goes with Stanton, he’s saying let’s hope he exhibits more patience at the plate, plays adequately in left field, and continues to be an imposing presence at the plate for opposing pitchers to contend with in every game.
Boone Does Have Another Option Though…
Of course, another choice Boone has is to carry only twelve pitchers instead of thirteen. Given the ample number off-days, only four starters come into play throughout the postseason. Plans are already underway to move Domingo German to the bullpen. Mostly, this an effort to preserve German’s overall innings pitched. But it’s also a reflection of German’s recent slide.
This leaves Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Luis Severino, who Boone says “has demonstrated enough to be an option,” and either J.A Happ or CC Sabathia as the fourth starter. Sabathia is the sentimental choice to make the squad, but Happ is coming off two brilliant outings, and there’s always the question of CC’s balky knees.
Who said this was easy? But the wheels are turning among the Yankees brass. And they’ll keep turning as all players continue to be observed during these final weeks of the season. Voit, Stanton, Cameron Maybin, and Tauchman are on the position player bubble. Dellin Betances and Severino are wild cards. Somehow Boone, a Manager of the Year Candidate will push the right buttons, just as he has all season.
Like Aaron Boone, I’m going to wait and see. How about you?
Postscript: In case you missed it last night, watch Gleyber Torres unload against the Red Sox