The New York Yankees are set to face the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium in the Wild Card game for the right to play the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series. For a one game playoff, both teams will want to feature their best lineup and have a roster with depth in order to move on to the next round. It’s been reported the parameters of what the roster will look like and how the lineup may be formed for the Yankees, so anyone and everyone can chime in and try to guess who they will trot out for Tuesday’s game.
Let us start with the roster. Manager Joe Girardi has told reporters that the Yankees will carry 10 pitchers and 15 position players for Tuesday’s Wild Card game. 9 of course would come from the bullpen, I think it’ll look like this from Long-man to Closer:
Luis Severino would be the 10th pitcher and would also be starting the game. Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia are included just in case things go south (knock on wood). Gray could possibly be the starter for game 1 of the ALDS if they Yanks reach it, so it makes sense to include him on this roster as an insurance policy. Jaime Garcia had a pretty good start last time he faced his old squad, though he was there for like a week if that, and was scheduled to start last Saturday but was bumped in favor of C.C. Sabathia since the Yanks still had a chance to catch Boston at-top of the AL East and they wanted one of their best on the hill for that one. So Garcia is rested and can come in should Sevy be in trouble or run-up a high pitch count early, again knock on wood. One part of this that might be still in the air is where Chad Green and Dellin Betances are positioned. I would think because of how Green’s done all season that if he has the chance to pitch the 6th, 7th or even both innings that Girardi will in fact bring him in. If it’s a more sizable lead, Girardi will most likely use Betances, but I could be wrong and Girardi could put him in the 7th over Green.
I believe the biggest debate here is who starts CF, Jacoby Ellsbury or Aaron Hicks. On one had you have Ellsbury who has been fairly hot since the middle of August, a huge threat on the bases, and is 10-34 (.294) with a homer and a couple of RBIs against the Twins starter Ervin Santana. On the other hand, Aaron Hicks has had a mightily improved season compared to last season. He recently returned from his second Oblique injury and has done quite well, batting .286 with 2 homers and 5 RBIs. Not to mention his robbery of a grand slam early last week that kept them still in the game, showcasing how much of an asset he can be on defense. It’s a real tough call but I’d go with the hot hand in Ellsbury, with Hicks ready to go if need-be. Something that some might bring up is only carrying two catchers instead of three. Think it’s quite unlikely as it is for two players at a certain position to get injured at the same time, but I think the deeper they go in the playoffs the less likely that they’ll take that chance. I think the bench is fine like this for the time being, any other chances will be made down the road.
Now for the probably most predictable part of the team, the lineup. Over the past few weeks, the Yanks have put out similar lineups each day, telling me that it’s the one they’re most comfortable with. Here it is:
The bottom of the lineup is probably something that could be altered, they have used Ellsbury up higher quite a bit but they have also used him in the 9 spot. If it were me, I’d start both Hicks and Ellsbury, although it is understandable that they have Headley starting. Hicks would be starting in center because of all the things I listed above, and Ellsbury will still be in the lineup as the DH with his hot stick.
I honestly think that this roster could beat any team with how much potential is truly has. The Yankees, especially after losing in the Wild Card as the home team in 2015 against the Astros, know well that the Twins like every other team in the playoffs should not be taken lightly and that they need all hands on deck to move on to the next round. If they can play the best baseball they ever have reached this season, they’ll be hard to stop. The quest for #28 starts Tuesday at Yankee Stadium in what looks to be an enticing match-up.