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Yankees Mailbag: Luetge vs. Montas, IKF’s metrics, and left field

The mailbag breaks down some of the roster decisions gone wrong this week.

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

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.

mryan asks: What’s up with Lucas Luetge? I don’t understand. It’s one thing to not use him during the ALDS but to leave him off the ALCS roster in place of Frankie Montas makes no sense to me. Why would the Yankees sideline him like that? Montas has been injured and awful. Luetge has been solid all year and does equally well against right and lefty batters (granted his WHIP is a little high but still).

It is strange that Luetge didn’t even get a look in the ALDS, especially given how much the top of the bullpen had to be used. Luetge hasn’t been in the upper echelon of Aaron Boone’s bullpen usage, but he’s been generally useful throughout the year. Going into the postseason there wasn’t a large role expected for him, but I personally thought Boone would try to mix and match him a little bit. That wasn’t the case, and then he got jettisoned for Montas.

Montas hasn’t had the year that the Yankees have wanted at all since trading for him, but they chose to activate him hoping that his initial struggles in the post-deadline starts were due to his shoulder acting up again. Even if he didn’t get an opportunity to build up into a starter’s role, the stuff that he displayed in Oakland was worth giving a chance in short stints here. It would have been better if Montas had this trial period against Cleveland, but throwing him out against Houston without knowing if he’s got his sharpest stuff is a tall order and it’s already failed once. The way that the first two games have gone, one mistake is enough to lose any game in this series, and while Luetge hadn’t gotten a chance to be productive his floor is a lot higher than Montas’ right now.

Neil S. asks: Much has been said about IKF this season. I’ve heard that in some defensive metrics IKF is great and in others he is horrible. Can you please explain why these metrics say such opposing things about IKF? Specifically with OAA and DRS.

The main difference between OAA and DRS, and this is only a difference that becomes a factor for infielders using OAA, is that DRS is a straight analysis of whether or not they made a play and how often that play is made while OAA factors in details like how far a player ranged to make the play and how long it took them to get there. Because of this, DRS lists Kiner-Falefa as an above-average shortstop who makes a decent amount of the plays hit his way, while OAA says that he’s a 19th percentile fielder. IKF had the eighth-most errors among the 22 starting shortstops in MLB that qualified with 15 misplays, so what that tells me based on his advanced stats is that while Kiner-Falefa doesn’t mess up on the average play he makes a lot of plays harder than they should be.

It’s been a full-on adventure for Kiner-Falefa in the field this postseason, to the point where he’s gotten benched at two different points for rookie shortstops. At this rate, it’s clear that whatever the Yankees thought of him internally doesn’t currently apply and they are aware that he’s a liability in these high-pressure games. They shouldn’t give him a third try this fall, and given how Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera have fit in with the big-league club it should be fair to say that the stopgap is officially no longer needed.

MSP Giant asks: Say Torres stays (I still think he may get traded for pitching), Peraza is at short. Who starts in LF come Opening Day?

At the moment this is where you could slot Cabrera, as he showcased legitimate skill at the position in a very short adjustment period. Given an entire offseason to get reps in the outfield, I would be confident enough in his bat and glove to give him the majority of the starts there if they couldn’t find a solid option externally, but I’m sure that Brian Cashman will test the waters. It’s unlikely that they bid high on retaining Andrew Benintendi’s services, but he is an option and there are plenty of other names that could surface once the hot stove reignites later this year.