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Yankees playoff roster: Who should make the cut

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We have no answers yet, but we’re still asking the questions

MLB: New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs are coming, and it’s looking like the Yankees are going to make the cut in some form or fashion. It will be some time before the postseason roster is announced, but we shouldn’t expect many surprises. There are really only a few players who remain in question.

The team’s first playoff roster will be dependent on where they end up to finish out the regular season. If they are in the Wild Card Game, they will be able to carry something like nine relief pitchers, like they did back in 2015, because they won’t need so many starters. There’s no real competition there because it’s just one game. If the Yankees are eyeing the division, we have more to talk about.

Aaron Hicks vs. Clint Frazier

At one point it seemed like Jacoby Ellsbury was the odd man out in the outfield mix, but he has since picked up his performance while Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier have been injured. Since the beginning of August, Ellsbury has hit an unbelievable .309/.406/.500 batting line, while the others have struggled to stay on the field. This turn of events cements his role as a starting outfielder on the playoff roster.

Meanwhile, Hicks is expected to come back before the end of the season, so if he’s healthy enough to be considered, the team’s fourth outfielder battle between him and Frazier shouldn’t really be much of a fight. Both players offer a right-handed bat off the bench, both have excelled at certain points in the season, and both have struggled over the last month of play. Hicks, though, brings the better defense and throwing arm, which should make the decision easy.

Decision: Aaron Hicks

Jordan Montgomery vs. Jaime Garcia

No matter what playoff scenario they enter into, the Yankees are going to need a long reliever just in case someone needs to get in the game earlier than expected. Even in 2015, the team carried Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell on the roster for the Wild Card Game, showing how important multi-inning relievers are, even in October.

The choice between Jordan Montgomery or Jaime Garcia is tougher than you might think. Garcia has proven that he can’t really be trusted to get through a lineup more than once, and Joe Girardi hasn’t trusted him to get deep into games or get out of trouble. Montgomery, though, has an innings limit that the Yankees are holding him to. In the end, who should the team choose?

Montgomery should be the call because his 144 innings is only five innings higher than his total from last year. If the Yankees were really worried about him pitching, they would have called it a year and shut him down. Monitoring his innings in September gives him extra bullets for October. He’s ready to pitch.

Decision: Jordan Montgomery

Greg Bird vs. Tyler Wade

Here’s a weird one. The expectation is likely that Greg Bird makes the playoff roster as the backup first baseman behind Chase Headley. The only problem there is whether or not the Yankees want to use that spot on a struggling player or someone who might be able to add their unique talent to the mix.

This might sound like blasphemy, but maybe it’s not a bad idea to take someone like Tyler Wade over Greg Bird. Wade hasn’t provided much with the bat at the major league level, but that’s okay, because he’d be offering his glove and his legs instead. As a late-inning infield replacement and designated pinch runner, Wade has a chance to offer more to each game than Bird could in the end. Wade has proven to be fast enough to offer an enhancement on the base path over nearly every other player on the team.

Making this decision is not easy because, while using Wade sounds good in theory, it would leave the Yankees with a bench of Austin Romine, Ronald Torreyes, Aaron Hicks, and either Bird or Wade. If you choose Wade, then that’s three exclusively right-handed batters with no power, but Bird has been through so much already that it’s hard to see him being useful. In the end, it might be worth it to go with Wade and see what they can accomplish.

Decision: Tyler Wade

Which players would you choose?