Since it’s been established some September additions are clearly there just for the month, it’s worth exploring players who may actually have a shot at the postseason roster.
Possible Playoff Roster Players:
Assuming A-Rod and Pettitte do not suffer setbacks, they will be playing baseball in October if the Yankees earn a playoff spot. With a healthy Pettitte joining CC and Kuroda as rotation locks, it probably also means Hughes and Nova still make the team, one as a starter and one in the bullpen. There is very little chance Freddy Garcia will be on a playoff roster as a result of this. He’s simply not trustworthy against elite lineups and for an extended period of time.
A-Rod will man his normal spot at third base and hitting in the middle of the lineup, which will push Eric Chavez to one of the bench spots. Chris Stewart is a lock to serve as backup catcher and Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez should be top pinch-hitters and platoon at DH.
So assuming all five starters (with a healthy Pettitte), all nine hitters (with a healthy A-Rod) plus Chavez, one of Jones and Ibanez (the other would DH) and Stewart are all healthy, that means 17 spots are occupied for a playoff roster. With Nova or Hughes in the bullpen, they will join Logan , Robertson and Soriano. One would guess Joba Chamberlain, David Phelps and Cody Eppley would be there as well due to performance and sample size. That’s five more spots bringing the total to 23.
A middle-infielder who can also pinch-run and hit would be ideal since Chavez and Stewart do not cover shortstop or second base and neither one has speed. Brett Gardner has the most speed and likely will get a spot as a late inning defensive replacement/pinch-runner if he is healthy enough to run and field.
All indications are he wouldn’t be allowed to swing, so his progress will decide a lot of it. Even with restrictions, he could very well become a 2004 Dave Roberts type of addition to a playoff team. The safer bet is probably in Eduardo Nunez, a capable hitter with a lot of speed who can play the left side of the infield and has some experience at second base. Nunez is currently in the minors working on his fielding problems, but he wouldn’t be a defensive replacement for anyone anyway unless it was an emergency (IE: In game injury/ejection). That means he would be utilized mostly for his speed or in a weird extra inning situation, his bat, both of which are perfectly capable.
Nunez on the roster means theoretically a fight between someone like Wade and someone like Gardner for the final spot. Gut instinct says Gardner wins out assuming he is healthy enough to throw a baseball. The speedy lefty would provide elite pinch-running and late defense which is more valuable than Wade’s arm in the bullpen.
With a starter acting as long reliever, built in off-days, and Chamberlain, Logan, Soriano aN. Robertson likely eating up any necessary late innings, there’s no real spot for another reliever. In the event of injury, a player is allowed to be added, so the Yankees may have Wade stay stretched out, but it’s difficult to see him taking the spot of speed/defense, a dynamic the Yankees’ lack and would likely desire when they hit less home runs against baseball’s best pitchers.
It’s worth exploring once the September call-ups come up, but an early shot at the playoff roster is as follows:
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Robinson Cano
RF: Nick Swisher
Keep in mind Gardner can also play left field, Ichiro can play all three positions and Andruw Jones can also play center field.
CC is a lock for Game 1 and Pettitte is likely to pitch a Game three which would line him up for a potential Game 7 in the ALCS or World Series. Kuroda has easily been the second best pitcher on the Yankees this season and in the ALDS no pitcher except Sabathia would throw twice anyway.
Closer: Rafael Soriano
Setup: David Roberstson
Long Relief: Ivan Nova
Lefty: Boone Logan
With Nova currently struggling and Hughes solid for the better part of four months, it’s likely Nova will be the one who finds himself in the bullpen pitching in long relief. However, if Nova does turn it around over the next seven weeks, he has the inside track on Hughes having been successful last season in the playoffs.