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Yankees Mailbag: Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, postseason rosters

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The answers to this week’s mailbag have arrived.

MLB: ALCS-Houston Astros at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, everyone, and happy Friday! We have a short mailbag for you today, just four questions. Remember to leave your submissions in our weekly call post or by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Bill asks: Baseball is a game of failure and adjustments, meaning pitchers will find a hole in a batter’s swing. Will Gleyber Torres endure an adjustment period in the near future? Is Luke Voit in an adjustment now? How about Gary Sanchez?

Remember how nearly all the scouting reports on Torres described him as a hitter mature beyond his years? I get what they meant now. The 22-year-old has an exceptionally advanced approach at the plate, not just relative to his age, but to the league itself. Just consider the way he talks about his at-bats:

“I swung at the first pitch and took the second one (to fall behind 0-2), and after that I just felt relaxed,” Torres explained to Mike Mazzeo during the ALDS. “I didn’t want to feel pressure in that moment. He threw me a really good slider, and I took it. I was just waiting for a fastball. He threw one, and I did damage.”

Teams will find the optimal way to pitch to Torres, because not doing so would be negligent. Their pitchers, however, will have to execute that plan. They’ll have to do it well, too, because Torres is that smart a hitter.

As for Voit, he’s compromised by injury. The first baseman may well need surgery in the offseason to repair a sports hernia. Sanchez, meanwhile, has been mostly ineffective in the second half. He battled injuries all summer, and one has to wonder if that has played a role in his prolonged slump. It’s clear he’s not the 170 wRC+ hitter that terrorized pitchers in 2016, but he’s definitely better than the near-automatic out he’s been this October.

Chuck asks: I know Voit was hurt and ice cold, but I miss his energy on the roster. Is it the case that Edwin Encarnacion will be gone next year, and Voit is back at first? Any way to see him on roster if they make World Series?

I fully anticipate Voit to be the Yankees’ everyday first baseman next season. Encarnacion has a $20 million option for 2020, but I expect the team to decline that and pay him his $5 million buyout. Maybe they bring him back—he’s been a great fit this season—but I don’t think that’s particularly likely. All signs point towards Encarnacion being a hired gun for 2019.

When it comes to future rosters, Voit definitely can be in play. The Yankees get to reset their roster after each round of the playoffs; he was on the ALDS squad, after all. The first baseman could rejoin the team in the Fall Classic, however unlikely it is they actually make it.

Kyle Ren asks: What purpose does Tyler Lyons serve on this team? He seems redundant with J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia, both lefties, already on the roster. Plus, it seems we could have used a little speed on the basepaths Sunday night—in the form of Tyler Wade—when Encarnacion got on base and made it to second?

Does it make sense to call Lyons the team’s lefty-specialist? He logged just one inning in the ALDS, but he warmed up in the first inning of Game Three of the ALCS with the idea of bailing Luis Severino out.

“I feel like there are some spots where maybe a batter situation, a two-batter situation where (Lyons) could do a nice job for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone explained to Brendan Kuty. “He’s obviously got some experience and felt like any situation we threw him in and we wanted to see him against some good left-handed hitters, we felt like by and large he responded pretty well.”

Sabathia got the call in Game Two, but it was a small miracle he retired Michael Brantley after falling behind in the count. I’d feel better about Lyons in that role. Happ, meanwhile, will work in bulk outings, not one-out appearances.

Was it smart for the Yankees to carry 13 pitchers? I’d say so, as the team relies so heavily on the bullpen. Cameron Maybin has been a fine pinch runner, and in that situation, I’m inclined to believe Encarnacion could score from second.

Editor’s note: Of course CC Sabathia got injured as soon as I wrote this.

Stan asks: I am hoping the Yankees would be willing to go over the next tier of the luxury tax and sign BOTH Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg this winter. Do you see a scenario where they would be willing to do that?

I’d love if the Yankees signed both of those guys, but don’t count on it. I’d be happy if they walked away with just one (hello, Cole). Hal Steinbrenner says he’s willing to go past the highest luxury-tax level for the right players, but he has yet to back it up. Let’s see how the rest of the postseason plays out, but if the Yankees add two starters this offseason, I’d bet they would be in a tier below (well below?) Cole and Strasburg.