clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How would a potential Wild Card roster and lineup look for the Yankees?

New, comments

If the Yankees hold on to the Wild Card spot, there’s a lot they can do with their roster for that game.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees’ playoff fate is far from decided. They still believe they have a shot at the division and are playing for that. The best they can do right now is to go out and win their games and hope for some assistance from other teams. As days keep passing, though, and the gap not closing, it’s starting to look more and more likely that the Yankees will be hosting a Wild Card game on October 3rd.

With the likelihood of a Wild Card game increasing by the day, it merits enough to consider exactly what a potential roster for that game would look like. Remember for the playoffs, teams can set their roster different for each series. While the Division, Championship, and World Series rosters would probably look very similar, barring injury and ineffectiveness, the fact is that a Wild Card roster would look quite different.

A one-game series means the Yankees wouldn’t need to carry their full rotation. They can choose to use that spot for an extra bat off the bench or an arm in the bullpen. They can pretty much do anything they want. So the question is: what do they want to do? Obviously we won’t know what the organization’s thinking is, but we can ask and do our best to try and answer the question.

Infielders (10)

Gary Sanchez
Austin Romine
Erik Kratz
Didi Gregorius (L)
Starlin Castro
Ronald Torreyes
Chase Headley (S)
Todd Frazier
Greg Bird (L)
Tyler Wade

Outfielders (5)

Aaron Judge
Brett Gardner (L)
Jacoby Ellsbury (L)
Aaron Hicks (S)
Clint Frazier

Designated Hitter (1)

Matt Holliday

Pitchers (9)

Luis Severino/Sonny Gray
Jordan Montgomery (L)
Masahiro Tanaka
David Robertson
Dellin Betances
Chad Green
Aroldis Chapman (L)
Tommy Kahnle
Adam Warren

Obviously the question of Luis Severino or Sonny Gray would be answered as the season winds down. Right now, Severino is on track to start the final game of the season. If he does, Gray would likely get the Wild Card start. If Severino isn’t needed on the last day, he’s the most likely to start the Wild Card game.

Outside of that, a few things stand out here. First off, why is Erik Kratz anywhere near a playoff roster? The final two spots really came down to Kratz, Tyler Wade, Tyler Austin, and Miguel Andujar. Wade made sense because of his speed and his ability to play almost anywhere. While Austin probably makes the most sense for the last spot, having an emergency catcher wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Ideally nobody we’re talking about should see playing time in this game, but in the event of an emergency, this lessens the chances of seeing Ronald Torreyes squatting (he might be able to just stand actually) behind the plate. Plus in 2015 the Yankees chose to carry three catchers for the Wild Card game against Astros, so it’s not without precedent.

If the Yankees advance past the Wild Card, the rotation is likely Severino, Gray, Tanaka, and CC Sabathia. This leaves Jordan Montgomery serves as the long man out of the bullpen and Masahiro Tanaka for emergency/backup purposes. If something were to happen to Severino or Gray early on, Tanaka would be on regular rest and able to come in and pitch.

Adam Warren’s spot depends on him coming back healthy. The latest on him was that he should be able to return before the end of the regular season. If that’s the case and he’s pitching well, he should get that spot. If he can’t go, look for Bryan Mitchell or Jaime Garcia to take this spot. Neither should really be anywhere near a playoff roster, but I guess every roster could use a mop and either could provide length if needed.

With this roster, the lineup the Yankees would likely trot out would depend on who the Yankees’ opponent would be. The likely opponent at this time seems to be the Twins and either one of Ervin Santana or Jose Berrios. Having just faced them, it stands to reason that he’d probably send out a very similar lineup against them in a Wild Card game. Here’s the lineup he used this past week, which could very well be the same one we see:

LF - Brett Gardner (L)
RF - Aaron Judge
C - Gary Sanchez
SS - Didi Gregorius (L)
DH - Chase Headley
2B - Starlin Castro
CF - Jacoby Ellsbury
3B - Todd Frazier
1B - Greg Bird (L)
P - Luis Severino/Sonny Gray

Personally, I like this lineup for the most part. The only real change, barring any injury, that we might see is Matt Holliday swapped in for Todd Frazier. In which case, the lineup would probably look a little like this:

LF - Brett Gardner (L)
RF - Aaron Judge
C - Gary Sanchez
SS - Didi Gregorius (L)
3B - Chase Headley (S)
DH - Matt Holliday
2B - Starlin Castro
CF - Jacoby Ellsbury (L)
1B - Greg Bird (L)
P - Luis Severino/Sonny Gray

Though, I imagine Girardi would likely favor going with the lineup that saw the Twins’ top two pitchers. Obviously if the Yankees can somehow take the division, all of this changes. For now though, it seems likely that they’re destined to host the Wild Card game, and this is how I see it playing out.

How do you see the roster shaping up? What changes, if any, would you make?