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Yankees Hot Corner – Decisions, Decisions

The saying goes something along the lines of “There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing”. That phrase rings true to the 2019 New York Yankees. They certainly are a very talented team, and with a talented team comes talented players.

Unfortunately for the Yankees there are only nine positions on the field and only nine spots in the order, so someone good will need to either be left off the postseason roster or sit on the bench waiting for their opportunity.

There are the set pieces; We don’t need to name them but you know who they are. The entire outfield is set, as are the three starters and most of the bullpen. The decisions lie in the configuration of the infield and the extra arms in the bullpen.

Who’s on first?

Although it’s a great bit (see below) it’s a legitimate question to ask when it comes to the Yankees’ postseason lineup. The infield has so many moving parts with multiple guys playing multiple positions so there are many combinations.

The main question is where does D.J. Lemahieu play? He will be the leadoff hitter and will be in the lineup for sure, but where he plays seals the fate of every other player in the infield.

If Lemahieu plays first base, then Gio Urshela will play third, Didi Gregorius will play shortstop and Gleyber Torres will play second, pushing Luke Voit into a pinch-hit/DH spot or entirely out of the picture.

If Lemahieu plays third, then Voit or Edwin Encarnacion will play first, although Edwin will most likely be the Yankees’ DH because of his back injury and lack of mobility in the infield. Gio Urshela will be the odd man out.

If Lemahieu plays second base, Gleyber Torres will be the shortstop and Didi Gregorius will be left out in the cold. Unfortunately, neither Didi or Gio have made the case of late to be in the lineup, although defensively the left side of the infield is best when they’re both in.

The most likely case is that Lemahieu will play first, with Gio at third (his hand is fine) and Gleyber and Didi up the middle. However, the decision really could go any which way.

Does anybody want to be in the bullpen?

Most of the Yankees’ bullpen is set. The Big Five are locked in, as is Chad Green, and J.A. Happ and C.C. Sabathia will almost certainly be the first two out of the bullpen if one of the three starters (Paxton, Severino, Tanaka) struggle.

The brass tax is the last guy or two who will serve as long-inning relievers in a pinch or if a game is already out of reach. So far, none of the lower-leverage relievers have impressed.

Jonathan Loaisiga looked to be tailor-made for this spot, but he’s struggled of late and hasn’t had the same bite that he had when he first came off the IL. Does the spot go to Nestor Cortes Jr, Luis Cessa or someone else?

Cessa seems to be the one who wins out in this case, because he can go for three innings no problem in a pinch and although he hasn’t been great, the rest of the pitchers have kind of phased themselves out of this spot.

Who’s the best option on the bench?

There are 25 spots on the postseason roster. The Yankees will almost certainly carry four outfielders, three catchers and two utility players. Cameron Maybin makes the cut because of his defense and ability to pinch hit.

Who will take that second spot? Tyler Wade is almost a sure bet, because he can play both infield and outfield. In addition, Wade has hit excellent lately and can always be relied upon to pinch run as he has incredible speed.

Will Luke Voit make the postseason roster as a pinch hitter? That remains to be seen but with Edwin Encarnacion being a shoo-in to make the postseason roster, Voit may be the odd man out in all of this.

It’s always a good problem to have too many good players. However, it will still be a tough decision to bring down the roster to 25 players. Some of the other questions to ask are;

  • Will the Yankees carry 12 or 13 pitchers on the postseason roster?
  • Will the Yankees carry three catchers with the injury potential to Gary Sanchez?

These are all valid questions that will be answered eventually. For now, we can only speculate what Aaron Boone and Co. will do. The rest is a crapshoot.

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