The New York Yankees playoff roster will ultimately be determined by who they end up playing, the Tampa Bay Rays or Cleveland Guardians. The Wild Card will consist of two games, starting on Friday night and ending on Saturday. This gives the Bombers a bit of time to decide who they will feature depending on who the opposing starting pitcher will be and the defensive alignments required.
“Obviously, Tampa we know really well and they know us well,” Boone said. “Cleveland has been one of the really good stories this year as far as to see their young roster come of age and really just dominate the Central down the stretch. They always pitch well. They’ve got an elite closer at the back end. Good starting pitching. It’s a team that’s really adept at putting the ball in play. They’re athletic. They do a lot of different things.”
Aaron Boone already suggested they know how to deal with Tampa, but the Cleveland Guardians are a bit of an outlier, given their recent success. Nonetheless, there will be a few cornerstone pieces the Yankees feature, but there is some wiggle room at the bottom half of the 26-man playoff roster.
Three Yankees who could be left off the playoff roster:
1.) Aroldis Chapman
The Yankees simply can’t put their faith in Aroldis Chapman at this point after such a polarizing 2022 season. Chapman featured a 4.46 ERA and 4.77 xFIP during the regular season over 36.1 innings. His strikeouts dropped from 15.50 in 2021 to 10.65 this year, also witnessing massive decreases in left-on-base and ground ball rates. His fastball velocity has also dropped almost an entire mile per hour, suggesting that he simply doesn’t have his usual stuff.
Whether losing spider tack impacted his game significantly or he simply is experiencing dire consequences of father time, Chapman has turned easy saves into difficult situations lately. In fact, over his final two performances in October, he gave up two earned runs in 1.1 innings, walking three batters against the Baltimore Orioles on October 2. That certainly wasn’t how Chapman envisioned going out after enjoying a rather successful September.
The Yankees have plenty of other bullpen arms they can rely on over Chapman, notably Wandy Peralta, given his lefty arm.
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2.) Jameson Taillon
The Yankees may keep Jameson Taillon on the playoff roster to simply get through Game 4 of the ALDS. They may try to mix and match Taillon and Domingo German, but they can’t allow the former Pittsburgh Pirate to go through an opposing batting order more than twice.
Teams begin to pick up on Taillon’s pitches rather quickly, so they have to utilize him strategically. Jamison finished the 2022 season with a 3.91 ERA, 7.66 strikeouts per nine, and a 75.3% left-on-base rate over 177.1 innings.
Taillon was fantastic during the first portion of the year but finished the regular season against the Texas Rangers, giving up four earned runs and seven hits over 6.0 innings. In fact, he’s given up six earned runs in his last two appearances and started the month of September giving up nine runs over three starts.
Relying on Taillon likely isn’t the most efficient strategy, but if they need a spot starter or someone to help get through Game 4, I can see why they would keep him around on the roster.
3.) Marwin Gonzalez
The infield is all but set aside from the one backup spot that will either be filled by Oswald Peraza or Marwin Gonzalez. Since Gonzalez has considerably more experience, especially during the postseason, it makes the most sense to utilize him.
However, Peraza is by far the better shortstop, and the Yankees wouldn’t have a true backup there if Peraza isn’t on the playoff roster. In addition, the 22-year-old rookie was hitting .306 with a 40.4% on-base rate, one homer, and two RBIs over just 18 games to finish the season. He enjoyed a 10.5% walk rate and 15.8% strikeout rate, showcasing stellar patience in the batter’s box.
Comparably, Gonzalez hit .185 during the regular season with a 25.5% on-base rate. His offensive qualities are next to none, but he does offer the capabilities to play at multiple different infield spots.
However, they don’t necessarily need that asset since DJ LeMahieu offers plenty of versatility. Given the way Peraza has been swinging the bat, I believe he gets the last infield roster spot over the veteran.