With September fast approaching and the Yankees 6.5 games clear of the Red Sox in the Wild Card race, I thought it would be interesting to try and figure out what the playoff roster might look like if the Yankees hold on to a postseason spot. With some injuries and strong performances from young players muddying the waters, it is likely that I will be wrong, but hopefully we can come close to estimating the actual roster.
Here are the locks:
Position Players (12)
That leaves 5 remaining spots, with only a utility infielder, a 4th starter, and a long man being necessities. AJ Burnett and Javier Vazquez are likely the only candidates for the starting spot, although I guess it is possible for Nova to swipe it if both veterans continue to pitch terribly and he sustains his strong start. As for the utility role, that will likely be between Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena, with Pena the favorite for the role due to his longer tenure and superior glove. The long-man role is more complicated, in that Nova, Alfredo Aceves, and Dustin Moseley are all legitimate options for that role.
Here is my final 5:
I chose Pena over Nunez because of his superior defense. The only context in which I could see him entering a game is as a runner or defensive replacement, and I do not see a measurable difference between the two as runners. Pena is the better defender at both short and third, so he gets the nod.
I selected Burnett as the 4th starter simply because I think he is the most likely to be handed the job if he shows even a bit of improvement during September. Shockingly, this leaves Javy Vazquez on the outside looking in, although a poor Burnett start in Round 1 could result in Javy being given a shot should the Yanks reach the ALCS.
As for Chad Moeller, his inclusion is the result of Frankie Cervelli’s status as the occasional starting catcher. If Cervelli starts any of the games while Jorge is the DH, the Yankees need to be able to pinch hit for Frankie without losing the DH. The only way to do so is to carry a third catcher, so Moeller makes the team. However, if Lance Berkman has a strong September, you might see him DH in the games that Cervelli starts, in which case Moeller is superfluous and a pinch runner such as Greg Golson would take the final position player slot.
The last two bullpen spots are wide open, with Aceves the most likely among those who I have excluded to work his way onto the roster. However, with the uncertain nature of his recovery, I am loathe to include him at this point. I like Nova as the long man, because he has the sort of stuff that allows Joe Girardi to use him as a short reliever as well, if necessary. Finally, we know how much Joe loves matchups, so if Marte is healthy and is even slightly effective in September, he has a great shot of making the team.
What would your roster look like?