Good afternoon everyone, let’s open up the mailbag for more of your Yankees questions. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.
Wayne Hansen asks: Expecting Johnny comes back and stays ... what is the wildcard 26-man (and more or less the expected postseason 26-man) roster?
Lets start with the postseason roster overall, since it’s pretty concrete. The starting lineup of Judge, Gallo, Stanton and Gardner in the outfield, with LeMahieu, Urshela, Torres, and Rizzo in the infield and Gary Sánchez and Kyle Higashioka behind the plate are a lock. Tyler Wade and Rougned Odor are the likely backups, but Luke Voit’s injury opens the door for a mystery 13th player — perhaps an extra outfielder like Estevan Florial, or another shortstop in Andrew Velazquez.
The pitching staff starts with the typical starting rotation members — Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Néstor Cortes Jr., and Corey Kluber. Jameson Taillon’s injury status throws a wrench into these plans, but given that he reaggravated a difficult injury to pitch through, I’m going to leave him off this list — if he winds up healthy enough to play, assume he’d be in. Most of the bullpen is self explanatory as well: Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Loáisiga, Clay Holmes, Lucas Luetge, Wandy Peralta, Chad Green, Michael King and Luis Severino should all expect spots. That leaves a trio of Joely Rodríguez, Albert Abreu, and Domingo Germán left with one spot remaining, and I imagine the Yankees would go with Rodríguez here.
Now, the Wild Card should shake things up a little, but not too much. In Aaron Boone’s previous Wild Card experience, in 2018, the Yankees ran a roster with three catchers and seven infielders. That was in part because of Miguel Andújar’s atrocious defense and the need for a late-game replacement, but the point stands — Boone likes the flexibility to mix-and-match with it all on the line for just one game. That could mean that Velazquez gets tapped for the Wild Card at least, and Rob Brantly would be the only option for a third catcher. Brantly wouldn’t go on past the Wild Card if the Yankees advance, but Velazquez impressed in his short time in the Bronx this season and could potentially follow the team.
Jf0046 asks: If and when the Yankees win the Wild Card Game with Cole on the hill, who should pitch Game 1 of the ALDS?
In a Twitter Spaces conversation with fellow PSA colleagues Josh and Erica a few weeks ago, I brought up the idea of having Cortes be the Game 1 starter in this scenario. My argument was that since Montgomery is the more consistent starter, you can expect to only need a few bullpen arms on standby for his start, whereas Cortes has been more volatile, and you’d want all hands on deck if the magic fades from his unique delivery.
Do I think the Yankees will go this route? I don’t believe so — Montgomery has been the No. 2 guy all year and earned that role by giving them a solid performance in just about every start. It’s also a matter of which pitcher you would want going in a potential Game 5, and I think the Yankees would rather have Montgomery for that game.
The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: Given how strange this past 18-20 months have been, don’t we deserve to see the crazy three- or four-way tie for the Wild Card play out?
Sure, let there be chaos — but for the second Wild Card, with the Yankees enjoying the mess from above in the first slot. The potential for a Game 163 or bizarre tiebreaker would benefit the Yankees, who would be facing another team’s No. 2 or even No. 3 starter depending on how the end of the regular season goes. But you’ll have to excuse me if I pass on do-or-die games to get into the real do-or-die game — this season’s been stressful enough to cover.
The Gregorius B.I.G. asks: Bronxie is a very boring name to give to a Yankee turtle. What name should they have given the turtle instead, and why is it Polnareff?