The first week of spring training has come and gone, and some names have made an impact already, while others haven’t. It’s time to think about who has the best chance to make the Opening Day roster. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will keep tabs on whose stock is on the rise, and those who aren’t.
For those who don’t know all about the “Making the Team Meter,” here’s what the grading key looks like:
The three categories represent the odds a player has on making the Opening Day roster. Red means it won’t happen, yellow means it might happen, and green indicates a near lock. Pretty easy, right? Let’s start with the pitchers.
A ton of arms have been on the bump for the Yankees during their first six games of the spring. Of course, we’ve seen familiar faces like Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, and Deivi García, who will all most likely make the Opening Day roster, but we’ve also witnessed our first looks at Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon in pinstripes. Taillon tossed a scoreless inning in his showing, displaying a nasty breaking pitch to record a strikeout. Not to be outdone, Kluber hurled two scoreless frames against the Blue Jays, including three strikeouts. If the Yankees have a wish list heading into the regular season, Taillon and Kluber staying healthy and productive is towards the top.
Outside of the players we know are going to make the roster, we’ve seen a plethora of pitchers who are fighting for a spot either in the rotation or in the back-end of the bullpen. Domingo Germán has obviously been in the spotlight recently as he returns from his suspension. He publicly apologized for his actions, and the Yankees are giving him a second chance. Germán pitched in a game for the first time since September 2019 and dazzled, going two scoreless innings with four strikeouts and surrendering just one hit. If he had a rough outing, Germán may have been in the yellow since he hasn’t seen live action in 18 months, but he took a notable step forward toward proving his worth in the Yankees’ eyes.
There is a decent amount of players in yellow, and that’s because there have only been six games thus far, but there are some interesting names on the list. Michael King got knocked around for three runs on three hits and two walks in his first two innings during the first game of the spring, but he rebounded nicely in his second appearance, where he only allowed a hit in two scoreless frames. He could make a push as a back-end relief option.
There are also some old friends that are in camp with the Yankees. Nestor Cortes Jr. and Adam Warren have seen some action. Cortes hasn’t shown that he can be an option for this team right now, but Warren has been respectable in his outings. It would be cool to see him squeeze himself onto the team for his third official tenure in pinstripes.
As a final note, we won’t be tracking Clarke Schmidt unless he makes an unexpectedly fast recovery from the elbow strain he suffered toward the end of February. Manager Aaron Boone said that Schmidt is about a week away from starting to throw again, but even if he returns to games before the end of spring, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to ramp up enough to make the Opening Day roster. He’ll probably begin 2021 at the alternate site in Scranton.
With one of the best lineups in all of baseball, there are not many openings for the fringe players. Andújar’s future with the Yankees is fuzzy. Gio Urshela has third base all to himself, and Miggy is a poor defensive infielder and outfielder. Right now, there’s a decent chance that Andújar doesn’t make the Opening Day roster unless an injury occurs. The same goes for Robinson Chirinos. Gary Sánchez and Kyle Higashioka will be the two catchers on the team come April 1st, barring injury to either one of them. If they both stay healthy, Chirinos will not make the roster.
Two lefty veterans on this list, Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich, are intriguing options. Bruce made a nice defensive play up against the wall to save an extra base hit, and Dietrich blasted a home run in one of his plate appearances. Given Mike Ford’s poor 2020, he’s probably behind them in Opening Day probability. Both of the aforementioned veterans will make their cases to be on the team, but as of now, the roster is a little tight. If we used a color between yellow and green (lime?), Bruce and Dietrich would fit that description.
Mike Tauchman and Tyler Wade are expected to slot into the bench roles. Brett Gardner and Tauchman will most likely be the fourth and fifth outfielders, and Wade will be rotated as the backup middle infielder and pinch-runner.
Who do you think has the best chance to make the team? Let us know in the comments section!