The chase for 28 begins next Tuesday in the Bronx with Game 1 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees finished the regular season with a record of 99-63, comfortably winning the AL East by seven games. They will face the winner of the best-of-three series between the Rays and the Guardians this weekend.
Here are my predictions for how the roster will shake out. Note, teams can only carry a maximum of 13 pitchers.
Jose Trevino, Kyle Higashioka
This one seems pretty straightforward. Who will start is becoming a legitimate debate: Trevino has been the main guy most of the year and is superior defensively, but Higashioka is hitting over .300 over his last 30 games.
Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson, DJ LeMahieu, Oswald Peraza
It seems pretty clear that Rizzo will be at first and Gleyber at second. My head says IKF will be the starting shortstop, but my heart hopes that Oswald Peraza will get a shot. If Peraza does not make the roster, expect him to still be with the team a la Derek Jeter in 1995. Donaldson hasn’t been super effective this year, with a below-average 98 wRC+ entering the final game of the season. However, he does rank in the 95th percentile in outs above average at +8. LeMahieu will most definitely make the roster, yet he is still coming back from his toe injury. Peraza is likely the only wild card here. If the team carries only eight arms out of the pen, I see Peraza making the team.
Aaron Judge, Harrison Bader, Oswaldo Cabrera, Tim Locastro
I think that the first three names above are locks: Judge is a pretty good player, Bader was essentially brought in to be a great defensive center fielder for the postseason, and Cabrera has brought a jolt of energy to this team along with his elite outfield defense. The last spot is up for grabs, and it’s between Aaron Hicks and Tim Locastro. This spot is needed because it doesn’t seem likely that Giancarlo Stanton or Matt Carpenter will be playing the field, and thus the team needs a fourth outfielder. This is also partly why I’m not very confident about Peraza’s chances of making the roster. Peraza would be a great pinch-running option, but so would Locastro. I think if the spot comes down to Hicks or Locastro, you have to go with Locastro. He is 8 for 10 in stolen base chances this year. Hicks has had a pretty dismal year all around, and I think it would be wise to leave him off the playoff roster.
Designated Hitters (2)
Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Carpenter
Aaron Boone seems to think that Carpenter will be ready for the ALDS. He has been taking live at-bats in Somerset recently. Stanton is a lock.
Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino, Jameson Taillon
Barring something crazy, I think that it will be Cole, Cortes, and Severino for games 1, 2, and 3, respectively. If that is the case, the Yankees could actually have Cole come back for Game 4 if needed since there is an off-day after Game 1 and Game 2. However, Nestor would have to be on short rest if he were to start Game 5, so Taillon comes in as the fourth starter, bumping a guy like Domingo German to the bullpen as the long man.
Domingo German, Clarke Schmidt, Lou Trivino, Scott Effross, Jonathan Loaisiga, Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, Lucas Leutge
This is assuming Holmes and Peralta are ready to go for the ALDS. Unfortunately, I could definitely see Aroldis Chapman sneaking his way onto the roster, as it might be enticing to have a third lefty out of the pen. However, I think (hope) that he will be left off. Technically, the team could carry an extra bullpen arm, but I don’t think that it’s necessary for a short series. That allows Peraza to get on the roster.
Of course, the other guys in play are Hicks, Chapman, Marwin Gonzalez, Miguel Castro, and Greg Weissert. One or two of these guys could make it depending on how some of the injuries progress, but there will be some interesting decisions ahead.