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Yankees Mailbag: Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino, postseason rosters

This week’s mailbag starts to consider postseason plans.

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MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, all, and happy Friday! We haven seven questions in this week’s mailbag. If I didn’t get to yours today, keep submitting them. I’ll try to make it work next week. As always, you can send questions through our weekly mailbag call or by email to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

cmm2003 asks: With Luis Severino coming back, people seem to be forgetting about the return of Jordan Montgomery. Do you think he will have an impact on the team this season?

Montgomery continues to make progress in his rehab, including three innings of two-run ball for Double-A Trenton on Wednesday night. The Yankees expect the southpaw back this season, but I wouldn’t count on him as a difference-maker. The team will probably just want to see him healthy, then get him ready for 2020. The odds of him cracking the postseason roster are slim, so just getting a look at him in the big leagues will count as a win for this year.

Kyle Ren asks: Do you see Severino as a legitimate option for the rotation in the postseason? Do you think he has enough time to make his case?

Assuming he returns healthy, I sort of consider Severino among the postseason starters. What I mean by that is I think the Yankees will pair him with an opener. I could see Chad Green taking the first frame, then Severino comes in for four innings. The team would maximize Severino’s appearance, using an opener without resorting to a full bullpen game. Does that make him a starter, a bulk pitcher, long-relief extraordinaire? The classification probably doesn’t matter. Just let him get as many outs as possible.

Theofficer-1199 asks: When does Deivi Garcia get called up? Let’s see if it was worth not making any trades in order to keep him.

Since joining the RailRiders in July, Garcia has made 11 appearances for the club, including six starters. He struggled for the most part, pitching to a 5.40 ERA (5.77 FIP) with a 1.80 HR/9 rate. Garcia has found more success since transitioning to the bullpen, and his most recent outing saw him toss three scoreless innings.

That said, the Yankees want to see more before promoting him, if they do at all. “I think he’s still kind of finding his way at his next level, too,” Aaron Boone explained to Brendan Kuty. “He a very young guy who’s still developing in a lot of ways.” That sounds like he will stay in Triple-A through the postseason, and even after that, he’s no sure thing to get called up.

emyrza1989 asks: Did the Yankees gain an additional year of Clint Frazier for keeping him in the minors this summer? Couldn’t find any decent info on that on the web.

The Yankees did gain an extra year of control over Frazier. In fact, they did so on August 23. The club likely held him back until September 1 to avoid looking fishy. September call-ups gave the team cover for this service time manipulation. For a more detailed breakdown of the math, see this post from last month.

yanks4ever asks: As great as it’s been having Encarnacion here, there’s the matter of his $20 million option for next year to consider. Do the Yankees consider keeping EE around next season on the option, negotiate a new price, or let him walk?

Edwin Encarnacion has made for a great addition to the Yankees. He gives them a middle-of-the-order bat and will serve as a legitimate power threat in the postseason. In many ways, I think Encarnacion’s career gets underappreciated. He’s been one of the game’s most feared batters for the better part of the decade.

That said, it’s tough to envision him playing for the Yankees next year. The team will almost surely decline his $20 million option, and even if he’s amenable to a pay cut, the roster spots will be limited. For example, the team will have a healthy Miguel Andujar and Giancarlo Stanton in the fold. Ever after expanding to a 26-man roster, it’s not likely that the team will use it on a 37-year-old designated hitter. The smart move is to appreciate Encarnacion now, and hope he hits a few dingers in the World Series.

Wayne Hansen asks: If everyone is healthy, who makes the ALDS roster, notably the bench and B-side of the bullpen? Will the roster be firm or will there be matchup variables depending on who the Yankees play? Will the Yankees favor a more one-dimensional offensive bench, or a more versatile defensive bench.

Let’s assume the Yankees get their injured players back—the ones expected to return before season’s end. While that’s no sure thing with this team, for the sake of this experiment we’ll be optimistic. With that in mind, I’d go with a roster that looks something like this:

Starters: DJ LeMahieu (3B), Aaron Judge (RF), Gary Sanchez (C), Giancarlo Stanton (LF), Gleyber Torres (2B), Edwin Encarnacion (DH), Luke Voit (1B), Didi Gregorius (SS), Aaron Hicks (CF)

Bench: Brett Gardner (OF), Gio Urshela (3B), Tyler Wade (INF), Austin Romine (C)

Starting Pitching: Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Luis Severino, Domingo German

Bullpen: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, Stephen Tarpley, Luis Cessa

In this case, the bench offers the best of both worlds. Gardner and Urshela provide the offense, while Wade serves as a pinch-runner who can also sub across the infield and outfield. Cameron Maybin could definitely fill that role, or maybe Mike Tauchman. The low-leverage relief spots go to Tarpley, a left-handed specialist who made the postseason roster last season, and Cessa for long relief.

Larry asks: Why do the Yankees pick up cast-off relievers from other teams? Larry Rothschild can’t help the pitchers he has now. Why didn’t they give their minor league players such as Feyereisen a chance? McBroom and Feyereisen are going to haunt them.

Let’s just say up front that J.P. Feyereisen (traded to the Brewers) and Ryan McBroom (traded to the Royals) won’t haunt the Yankees. They’re fringe major leaguers. If they didn’t get promoted with the injury outbreak this season, they were never going to suit up in pinstripes.

As for the team’s decision to claim any reliever available, that’s essentially the only way to improve a club with the single trade deadline. Quality players don’t get put on waivers, and the mediocre types won’t fall to the Yankees in the pecking order. Cory Gearrin represents the best of players available these days.

For what it’s worth, Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (subscription required) recently noted that the Yankees tried to add an impact reliever at the deadline. Apparently trade discussions over Blue Jays closer Ken Giles reached advanced stages, but Brian Cashman shut things down over questionable medicals. They tried, it just didn’t work out.