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Yankees Mailbag: Spring training competitions and Luke Voit’s knee

Check out the latest answers to your questions in this week’s mailbag.

New York Yankees v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Good morning everyone, it’s time to head back into 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.

imramet asks: Without Britton you have ten guys slated for your pitching staff. List your remaining three to break camp, and why — just assume that Yanks go with 13.

Sure thing. I’m going to go ahead and assume our locks are the starting pitchers — Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, and either Deivi García or Domingo Germán — plus Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Justin Wilson, Darren O’Day, and the loser of the García/Germán competition. That leaves a grouping of guys like Jonathan Loáisiga, Michael King, and Luis Cessa trying to hold off Nick Nelson, Lucas Luetge, and Tyler Lyons for the three remaining spots.

It’s tough to fight an uphill battle, and that’s the fight that Luetge and Lyons have in front of them as non-roster invitees. Despite this, Luetge has made significant strides and is a legit candidate to make the team. Nelson doesn’t face this disadvantage, and has shown enough promise to warrant a look. Of the three incumbents Loáisiga has been talked up by Aaron Boone the most, and figures to have a decent role already lined up. He would be my first pick, and then Cessa follows him in after showing flashes of real improvement in 2020.

King’s spot is the least sturdy, and in my opinion will probably be ceded to Nelson. King can benefit from the opportunity to start down in the minors whereas Nelson is more or less defined as a reliever already, so I think that ultimately decides things. Luetge is the wild card, and if the Yankees were to go with 14 pitchers I would even put him ahead of King right now. Since that isn’t the exercise though, he narrowly misses the cut. It’s a razor-thin line to make it either way, and I’ll go in depth on this topic later in the day.

JMan asks: The way Germán is pitching, is there any way he isn’t in the rotation?

It’s felt like a two-man race for a while now, and I’d be surprised if anyone other than Germán or García walks away with the final starting spot. Both have been very impressive, with narrow margins separating the two as the number of exhibition games dwindles. I’ve made my opinion known previously that I think it would be best if Germán started off out of the spotlight, but it’s clear that the Yankees are giving him a shot to earn it.

If you’re a fan of reading into spring training stats, it’s hard to make a wrong choice here. Both pitchers have been excellent, though Germán has made notable improvements in his game as Peter pointed out the other day. Heading into spring, my thinking on this competition was that even though Germán has more experience, García being the more recent starter would give him an edge. I don’t think this is the case anymore, and it appears that this is a true toss-up. I’d say Germán might indeed be the favorite right now, but nothing is getting decided until the Yankees actually need their fifth starter to take their turn.

EasyRider28 asks: Is Luke Voit’s knee really going to bother him all season? I know it’s only spring training, but he seems to be struggling at the plate. Is this cause for concern?

Last season Voit playing through the year while dealing with “foot stuff,” which ended up being plantar fasciitis. Despite playing through the injury Voit was very effective with the bat, leading the league in home runs and playing a crucial role in the middle of the lineup. So far this season Voit has now dealt with some “knee stuff,” but it won’t be as easy to play through this.

Plantar fasciitis didn’t end up effecting Voit’s game too significantly because it mostly saps an athlete’s running capabilities — something a power-swinging first baseman really doesn’t rely on. It was certainly noticeable whenever Voit took his jog around the bases after swatting one out, but so long as the pain is only mild it wasn’t something that would keep Voit out of the lineup.

The knee, however, is a different story. A faulty knee can cause any swing to become uncomfortable, and there’s a risk for compounding ligament or muscle injuries that would definitely cause Voit to miss some time. It’s too early to say whether this will be an issue for Voit all year, but it is something to be closely monitoring.

Jared D. asks: If Miguel Andújar doesn’t make the team out of spring training, is there a market for him on the trade front?

Would there be a market of interested teams? Yes, most likely. Would there be a market of teams willing to part with worthwhile prospects for Andújar? Not a chance. Andújar’s market didn’t emerge over the winter, mostly because his value is at an all-time low while the Yankees are still hopeful that he’ll find his 2018 form. That remains true now, and thus the best use the Yankees could get out of Andújar is from getting him consistent at-bats in Triple-A.

Andújar’s been out of commission — thanks to both an injury-riddled 2019 and the pandemic-shortened 2020 — for either the Yankees or a third party to accurately know where Andújar stands as far as major-league caliber infielders are concerned. With so much uncertainty around, the only smart move is to try and get some games under him and see where his game is at currently.