Good morning everyone, it’s time for another edition of the mailbag. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.
MSP Giant asks: Do Yanks get to adjust the postseason rosters several times over coming weeks? Who do you see as the potentially most robust addition?
They do in fact get to adjust the postseason roster, but only after each series is completed. The lone exception to this rule is if someone is injured and must be removed; they would then be unable to return until after the next round is played in full. If the Yankees advance to the ALCS, there are a number of changes they could make depending on the health of some players that are currently sidelined. Some of the biggest names are of course DJ LeMahieu, Andrew Benintendi, Ron Marinaccio, and Frankie Montas, and of those four, I’d argue Benintendi would be the biggest addition. Benintendi was acclimating well to his Yankees tenure when he hit the IL with an unlucky injury on a hit-by-pitch, and if 100 percent, could slot into the lineup immediately if they wanted to be more flexible with Oswaldo Cabrera’s role.
LeMahieu would also be a solid gain if healthy, though his injury is more concerning and given how he looked while playing on his bad foot just a few weeks ago, I’m inclined to believe he needs the offseason to get back in form. The Yankees have talked about Montas having a role in the bullpen if and when he’s healthy, but I just can’t envision things going well after the poor form he’s shown since the trade deadline on top of shifting from a starter’s job. At least Marinaccio would be more familiar and proven if his shin id looking better than it did during the season’s final week. Still, I think Benintendi would be the biggest addition, though it would be more of a luxury gain than a need.
Ethan R. asks: Everybody loves a little armchair management. Let’s say it’s Game 4 and Cole starts on short rest. He barely gets you through three innings and looks totally gassed, but through luck and a lively Yankees offense the game is still close. How do you manage out of the pen from here? Do you try to get a half game out of Germán or Taillon, or do you start chewing through the ‘pen? How does your decision change if we’re up 2-1 versus down 1-2 in the series at this point?
First of all, Cole’s Game 4 start would be on normal rest. The Yankees were off the last two nights, and while Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino will tackle Games 2 and 3, Cole would be ready to go for Game 4 with the full four days of rest behind him.
But this question is still relevant in case a short-rest scenario does arise with Cole later in October, as it did in Game 5 of the 2020 ALDS. The situation would heavily depend on how much of the bullpen is used in the previous two games, especially if they’re back-to-back contests. If they’re slightly ahead, I would probably push the bullpen for the majority of those remaining innings, but Germán or Taillon would factor in for at least one frame. If they’re slightly behind after all of these shenanigans I would need some length out of Germán most likely, unless the Yankees are facing elimination in this game in which case you go with your best arms no matter what.
EasyRider28 asks: Do you see the upcoming playoffs as the Yankees’ final litmus test for Hicks still being on the team come this spring training?
Not particularly, just because I don’t envision him getting much playing time beyond late-game substitutions. The Yankees ran a starting outfield of Cabrera, Harrison Bader, and Aaron Judge in Game 1, and I don’t think they’re going to deviate from that rotation except in the aforementioned case of Benintendi returning or if Giancarlo Stanton starts a game in the field instead. Tim Locastro is on the roster and he’ll be the first name who Aaron Boone calls upon in a pinch-running situation, leaving just a defensive sub role for Hicks to garner any real playing time.
Whether or not Hicks is on the roster next year, I think that the Bader trade already signaled that they were moving on from starting Hicks. Now that Bader is healthy and showcasing the elite defense that the Yankees got him for (on top of surprising folks with a clutch solo shot in Game 1), it’s just set in stone that he’s the center fielder for the immediate future.