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Yankees Mailbag: Matt Carpenter, Austin Wells, and going for history

The mailbag looks into finding a veteran some playing time and debates the merits of pursuing history versus conserving energy for the postseason.

Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

Good afternoon 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.

Hankflorida asks: I would like your scenario of how Carpenter can get more at bats other then at DH when Stanton plays right or as a pinch hitter late in games, or do you feel that he is this part time player and an insurance policy if anyone gets hurt?

I think the evidence indicates that the team sees him in the latter state. Carpenter has been quite a spark plug in his brief playing time with the Yankees so far, but his last game played was on June 5th after playing almost regularly for a week. He filled in at a crucial time for the team and managed to outperform all the expectations for the veteran, but reality has set in a bit. Comparing him to someone else on the bench like Marwin González, it’s clear that there’s no real fit to get Carpenter consistent playing time unless one of the regulars gets banged up.

He managed to intrigue the front office enough with his stellar audition to stay over keeping a guy like Miguel Andújar on the roster, but now he’ll have to showcase whether he can stay hot at a moment’s notice for a spot start or pinch-hit opportunity. If he can, there could be shades of Raúl Ibañez in Carpenter’s late-career revitalization in pinstripes.

Jonathan R. asks: What happened to Austin Wells? Nowhere to be found in the recaps?

Wells has been on the Injured List since the middle of May, and there hasn’t been much of an update on his status (minor league injuries are notoriously difficult to dig information up on). When he went down, Wells was basically the only offensive prospect performing, but the farm has stepped up since his departure — specifically, the catching prospects around Wells have made some noise. Anthony Seigler was promoted up to High-A in Wells’ absence, and he’s made the most of it: Seigler is batting .304/.469/.478 with two homers in 14 games since the callup. Josh Breaux has also been excelling at Double-A Somerset, hitting for an .824 OPS and smashing 11 home runs.

Their breakouts will lead to an interesting dilemma once Wells returns — who goes where? Can you send Seigler back down when he’s tearing up the competition at a higher level than he was at before? Can a healthy Wells jump straight up to Double-A, where it seemed he was destined pre-injury, without getting any games back under his legs? Is Breaux ready to handle Triple-A if that’s the plan, or would he split time with Wells? This is a good problem to have if you’re the Yankees, but they’ll need a plan in place sooner rather than later.

Rich W. asks: It’ll be interesting to see if the Yanks continue this dominance, will they chase history and go for max wins (maybe 114, club record) and roll into postseason with momentum, or start scaling back innings on key pitchers and giving spot starts to minor leaguers?

While the AL East isn’t exactly like last year’s Giants-Dodgers division chase, the rest of the competition isn’t far enough away yet to worry about this. The Rays and Blue Jays are legit threats to sneak back into things if the Yankees take their foot off of the pedal, and the Red Sox are lurking on the perimeter of the playoff race as well. The American League is top heavy as is, but so much of it is centered in the East that there really isn’t an argument to be made for not chasing as many wins as they can get. It took the Giants 108 wins to finally nail down their division last year, and it happened in the final weekend of the regular season — I wouldn’t be surprised to see multiple teams in the AL East bid for 100 wins this year, so the Yankees will have to take a similar mentality.

That being said, there are some cases where the Yankees will have to be careful. This mainly applies to the rotation, which features arms in Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes that haven’t seen a full year’s worth of innings in a long time. This is still a problem for later in the year, since you don’t want to throttle the starters too early and burn out the ‘pen, but it wouldn’t hurt to be active in the starting pitching market despite the stellar work of the rotation this year.