The Yankees are on the cusp of returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012, and while it's not a sure thing yet, it looks like the Yankees will be playing in the Wild Card game. Each team gets to set their roster before each series in the postseason, which means that the Yankees get to set one specifically for the Wild Card game. The Yankees don't need to carry all of their starting pitchers in a one-game playoff, so the team can fill those spots by adding extra arms to the bullpen or extra players to the bench. We've spent the last few days considering what the rotation, bullpen and starting lineup should look like, now let's consider what the Yankees' postseason bench should look like.
The only position in the starting lineup that isn't locked in right now is that of second base. Stephen Drew got the nod at second base for the majority of the season, despite the fact that he coasted under the Mendoza Line, but he hasn't played over the past two weeks. Drew has been experiencing dizziness along with balance issues, and the Yankees are unclear as to what the problem is. All Joe Girardi knows is that Drew hasn't improved and that could mean that he is left off of the postseason roster, or at least the Wild Card roster. If Dustin Ackley gets a spot in the starting lineup, then Rob Refsnyder will be on the bench unless Drew is cleared to play. Ref is batting .333/.375/.400 through 16 plate appearances in September. Small sample size aside, he might be a better option than even a healthy Drew.
It is easier to predict the rest of the bench. Brendan Ryan isn't a threat offensively, but he can back up the majority of the infield and can serve as a late-inning defensive substitute. There should be enough free spots on the Wild Card roster without all of the starting pitchers that the Yankees will have room to add Rico Noel to serve solely as a pinch-runner. However, if the Yankees do make it past the Wild Card game, they probably wouldn't have the luxury of adding Noel to any of the other postseason rosters. They should have space on the bench for Slade Heathcott to be a backup outfielder, and he can also serve as a pinch-runner if the Yankees find someone like Carlos Beltran in scoring position. Heathcott has only had limited chances in the majors this year after landing on the disabled list early in the season, but he can provide some pop off the bench as we saw a few weeks ago when he hit a game-winning, three-run home run against the Rays. Also, Heathcott looks to be the only left-handed batter on the bench if Drew doesn't make the team.
John Ryan Murphy and Chris Young will fill the remaining spots on the bench. Young has been the Yankees' main backup outfielder this year, usually earning the start against left-handed pitchers, since he's batting .319 against lefties compared to .182 against righties. Murphy has hit really well in his first full season as the Yankees' backup catcher, slashing .286/.325/.422 in 61 games. It can be difficult for players to get into a good rhythm when they don't get regular playing time, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for him. There's no real reason for the team to carry a third backup catcher, but Austin Romine still exists if they need him further in the postseason for any reason. If the Yankees end up with an extra bench spot, there's a chance that Drew or Jose Pirela make the roster as extra infielders.
Who do you think should be on the Yankees' postseason bench?