For the New York Yankees, a shortened season of just 60 games will have several consequences, both good and bad. The bad is that they won’t be able to have any long stretches of poor play if they are to get to the postseason. The Yankees are still World Series favorites, but each game during the season will take on more importance. The greatest impact on players will be those that will sit on the bench with the expanded 30 man roster.
The bench will most likely include Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, Mike Tauchman, catcher Kyle Higashioka, and the “utility” players, Miguel Andujar, and Tyler Wade. Also on the bench will be club veteran Brett Gardner. After last year’s disaster with so many players going on the IL, these bench players could see significant playing time. In that thought, you have to consider with no minor leaguer’s available, the bench will be very important.
Mike Ford: Mike burst onto the scene last season. The seven-year minor league veteran got his big break when he was called up to the majors when Greg Bird was injured. He made his major league debut in April and got his first hit on April 21. He hit his first home run on April 23rd. He ended up playing in 50 games, most near the end of the season. He proved to be a powerful left-hand bat hitting 12 home runs. That’s an average of a home run in every 4 1/2 games.
Manager Aaron Boone if he chose to could alternate Ford with Voit at first base. Voit could hit against lefties and Ford again right-hand pitchers.
Clint Frazier: Aaron Judge’s back luck with his rib fracture, just could be big for Clint Frazier, one of manager Boone’s only options to serve in the right field. At present, it is not known if Judge’s rehab will have progressed enough to allow him to play at the start of the season on July 23rd. With such a short season Judge may not play at all. Frazier, who can go on a tear behind the plate has been questionable in the outfield. This season could be his season to prove his worth to the New York Yankees.
Kyle Higashioka: Kyle is in a situation where he has to show that he can be the replacement for Austin Romine that the Yankees hope for. In a short season and if Gary Sanchez can remain healthy, Kyle might only catch in eight to ten games. However, if Sanchez has injuries as he is inclined to have, Kyle could see himself catching in a half-season of games. Whatever the case the Yankees will be watching Kyle carefully. Last season he caught in 18 games in relief of Austin Romine. He batting .214 with 3 homers, but in spring training this year, he led the team in home runs with 3 homers in just 12 games and hit .276.
Andujar and Tauchman: With Giancarlo Stanton playing in only 18 games last year and already being injured in spring training, Miguel Andujar and Mike Tauchman may see a lot of time in the outfield. The plus with Andujar is his power behind the plate, and with Mike Tauchman, it’s his left-hand bat in a lineup that is right-hand heavy. Manager Boone has his choices to rest Stanton or have these two alternate as fill-ins in left field. Andujar will see more playing time as he will also alternate with Stanton as the regular DH.
Aaron Hicks/Brett Gardner: At the present with Aaron Hicks reportedly ready to play in center field, and with capable Brett Gardner as a backup, the center field is pretty well taken care of for Boone. Hick’s will be returning from Tommy John surgery that he had immediately at the end of the season. He was supposed to miss the first two months of the season, but with the delayed season, that may not be an issue.
Tyler Wade: Tyler Wade just may be the wild card this year and may see more playing time than any bench players. Being the super-utility player, he can fill in at short for Gleyber Torres, who will need rest and for DJ LeMahieu at second. The plus for Boone is that Wade can also play the outfield.
With injuries inevitable and the coronavirus, the season may well end up with whatever team has the best bench players will be the team that advances to the World Series. The New York Yankees bench is well suited to be that excellent bench.