The Yankees, let’s face it, have no idea which players will compose their postseason roster. With only eleven games to play, decision time is coming – ready or not…
Yankees manager Aaron Boone never panics. He rolls out the daily injury reports with the ease of poise of DJ LeMahieu‘s penchant for base hits. But you have to wonder if Boone is privately beginning to get a bit nervous. Auditioning time for returning players like Luis Severino, Giancarlo Stanton, and Dellin Betances is limited at best.
If Stanton, for instance, plays in all eleven games left on the Yankees Schedule, which is not likely, he has less than 50 at-bats to “get ready.” Severino will be limited to three appearances at most, and Betances no more than five appearances out of the bullpen.
In between, Boone has the onus of squeezing CC Sabathia, Domingo German, and J.A. Happ into a couple of bullpen outings. This, before he decides which two will join James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka as the four starters in the postseason. Jordan Montgomery, who is auditioning today in Toronto, is a wild card possibility in the rotation as well.
Then, there’s the bullpen where Boone has the challenge of keeping his A-Team fresh but not overworked. Aroldis Chapman, for instance, has seen action in only two games in September for a total of 1.2 innings pitched. Conversely, Boone has used Zach Britton five times in September for a total of eight innings pitched.
Boone’s Position Player Jigsaw Puzzle
And that’s just the pitching. Position players are another matter in which there is potentially a bumper crop to choose from. Stanton is in big-time unless you want to take that up with Aaron Judge, who told the New York Post:
Brett Gardner has made himself a fixture in center field with sterling offense and defense. And, of course, Judge owns right field. Your DH is flexible with Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu alternating at first base.
There are also the two “ifs” – Edwin Encarnacion and Gary Sanchez, both currently down with injuries, both will get ample time – if they are healthy.
The rest of the infield is set with Didi Gregorius (he’d better start hitting though), Gleyber Torres at second base, and Gio Urshela handling third base. Urshela, by the way, is still batting .325 or better depending on the day.
To fill out the squad, Boone will likely exclude Thairo Estrada, Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, and Breyvic Valera. Cameron Maybin is a wild card who can make the team as the fourth outfielder – if he demonstrates his wrist is fully healed. Tyler Wade and his versatility in both the infield and outfield where he’s playing today makes the squad.
Analytics Out – Boone’s Eyes In
Forget the analytics. And the players who say they “feel great.” It’s total gut-check time for Aaron Boone. He’ll look at the numbers of this player and that player against postseason rivals, but his senses will rule everything.
In this case, “healthy” is a relative word. The input includes what the team of doctors say, what the player says, and finally, what Aaron Boone’s eyes tell him. Making those judgments will mark his two-year tenure with the Yankees as a watermark, as well as his candidacy as the AL Manager of the Year.
I trust him. How about you?