The Yankees have to secure a playoff spot before they can seriously consider a playoff roster, but these final two and a half weeks should help determine who can help and who can’t help in October.
Obviously this depends on Teixeira’s health, but that’s really the case with everyone. If Teixeira’s healthy, he’ll be there no matter how well he performs in the final two weeks. That leaves three decisions.
I have to believe Jayson Nix will make the postseason roster, but I also wonder if Eduardo Nunez might be a more dynamic choice for a utility man. He has more speed, a better bat, and just like Nix, can fill in at second, third or short in a pinch. No matter who gets this roster spot, it’s unlikely he would start in the field unless there’s an injury.
Against left-handers, the alternatives to Andruw Jones aren’t inspiring. Ibanez and Ichiro have been horrible against lefties, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees trust Steve Pearce in the outfield. So far, Joe Girardi has gone with all-or-nothing Jones, and there’s no indication that he’s going to stop doing that, but could these last few games change his mind? If not, Jones will certainly make the roster.
Final bench player
Assuming an 11-man pitching staff for the postseason, the Yankees will have one more spot for a position player. Francisco Cervelli has played so little, it seems safe to rule him out. Ditto Casey McGehee and Melky Mesa. The options, then, are carrying both Pearce and Jones, carrying both Nix and Nunez, or adding one of Chris Dickerson or Brett Gardner to provide some speed. Have to see what Gardner can do before figuring out whether he can really be of value.
I’ve made three assumptions with this list of locks: 1. That a healthy Pettitte is a postseason must no matter how he pitches down the stretch. 2. Logan has become more of a seventh-inning reliever than a lefty specialist, leaving a clear role for Rapada. 3. Phelps has clearly done enough to serve one role or another, either long man or matchup middle reliever. That leaves three decisions
What to do with the extra starter?
Based on Saturday, Ivan Nova is healthy and pitching well again. If Pettitte is horrible down the stretch, is there a chance Nova stays in the rotation and Pettitte fills a long relief role? Could Nova earn a start over Hughes? Despite his lack of bullpen experience, wouldn’t Nova will surely make the roster in some capacity.
How to fill the final bullpen spot?
Cody Eppley stuck around all season for a reason, but lately he hasn’t been nearly as reliable as he was in the first half. Instead, it’s beginning to look like Joba Chamberlain is the better and more trusted option. Might not have said that two weeks ago, but right now Chamberlain seems higher on the pecking order. He’s got to be a better option than Derek Lowe, Cory Wade or Freddy Garcia, right?
Is it worth carrying 12 pitchers?
The short answer is, probably not. But Girardi is used to mixing and matching, and a fifth bench player certainly isn’t a necessity. Is an extra arm more valuable than a pinch runner? I’d go with the extra position player, but it’s worth at least moment of consideration.
Associated Press photos