Predicting the 2012 New York Yankees MLB Playoff Roster

Christopher ConnorsCorrespondent IOctober 1, 2012

Predicting the 2012 New York Yankees MLB Playoff Roster

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    The New York Yankees will be in the Major League Baseball playoffs that kick off later this week, but three more games will decide where they'll be playing and how many guaranteed games they'll have starting out.

    The Yankees enter play today tied with the Baltimore Orioles atop the division and can clinch the American League East title. They can also find themselves in a one-game playoff to determine the division champion or enter the playoffs as one of the two wild cards.

    Needless to say, these next three games will have an enormous impact on the fate of the 2012 Yankees.

    Manager Joe Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman and company will need to select a 25-man playoff roster. At this point, many of the choices seem quite obvious. As usual though, the final one or two players could be very close calls and will come down to situational factors, such as who the Yankees opponent is.

    Here is one man's take on the 25 players who will be playing postseason baseball for the Yankees in the upcoming days.

Starting Lineup vs. Right-Handed Pitchers

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    Yankees Batting Order (versus RHP)

    SS- Derek Jeter

    RF- Nick Swisher

    2B- Robinson Cano

    3B- Alex Rodriguez

    1B- Mark Teixeira

    CF- Curtis Granderson

    DH- Raul Ibanez

    LF- Ichiro Suzuki

    C- Russell Martin

    Commentary

    This is entirely based on the health of Mark Teixeira. If the Yankees first baseman is healthy and ready to go, he will be in the lineup against righties or lefties. Expect Nick Swisher to remain in the second slot of the batting order as the Yankees will be likely to keep Ichiro near the bottom despite his recent success.

    It goes without saying that Alex Rodriguez is no longer hitting the way that a cleanup hitter should, but he's still getting on base at a respectable rate and is likely to remain in the four-hole. Raul Ibanez will likely be manager Joe Girardi's choice at DH but frankly, Eric Chavez deserves the nod.

    Chavez is hitting exceptionally well against righties this season with a .910 OPS, and for a manager that relies so much on statistics, it would be wise for Girardi to let the veteran third baseman hit in the DH spot. Knowing Girardi's tendencies and his faith in Ibanez, you can probably expect Raul in the lineup with Chavez available off the bench.

Starting Lineup vs. Left-Handed Pitchers

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    Yankees Batting Order (versus LHP)

    SS- Derek Jeter

    RF- Nick Swisher

    3B- Alex Rodriguez

    2B- Robinson Cano

    1B- Mark Teixeira

    C- Russell Martin

    CF- Curtis Granderson

    LF- Ichiro Suzuki

    DH- Eduardo Nunez

    Commentary

    Not too many differences since it's incredibly unlikely we'll see Andruw Jones or Casey McGehee. It's hard to deny the value that Eduardo Nunez's bat adds to a lineup facing a left-handed pitcher. In a very small sample size, Nunez is hitting quite well against southpaws and brings a speedy dimension to the lineup.

    Beyond that, expect Girardi to keep the lineup pretty similar. He very well may opt to go with Ibanez here but given his struggles against lefties, it's hard to imagine why Girardi would risk using him in a big spot when he could have a nice lefty bat ready to come off the bench in case of a pitching change.

    The other big change is seeing Russell Martin rise higher in the batting order up to the sixth spot. Martin can flat-out rake against lefty pitching and deserves the chance to be higher in the order.

Starting Rotation

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    Starting Rotation

    Game 1

    CC Sabathia

    Game 2

    Hiroki Kuroda

    Game 3

    Andy Pettitte

    Game 4

    Phil Hughes

    Commentary

    *Important to note that this is based on the Yankees playing in an ALDS best-of-five matchup.

    Barring a rain-out and a last-minute schedule change that would make things more advantageous to go with a three-man rotation, these four pitchers are exactly who should be starting the playoff games and exactly in this order. 

    Girardi will likely want to slot Kuroda in at the No. 2 spot to split up the lefties (Sabathia and Pettitte) and Hughes is in at Game 4. While Hughes has been inconsistent, the same can be said in the month of September for Kuroda. Kuroda's 2012 season is superior to Hughes, but Hughes has shown the ability to pitch well in big spots.

    It's undeniably a worry for Yankee fans to think of Hughes in a crucial must-win Game 4 down 2-1, but there are far worse choices. Ivan Nova doesn't have a prayer of making the rotation and he should be left off the roster, at this point, altogether. 

Bench

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    Bench

    3B- Eric Chavez

    SS- Eduardo Nunez

    OF- Brett Gardner

    C- Chris Stewart

    OF- Andruw Jones

    Commentary

    Eric Chavez playing third base instead of A-Rod may be a wise move considering A-Rod's spate of injuries this season. Andruw Jones becomes a pinch-hitter strictly against lefties. He realistically doesn't deserve to be on the roster at this point, but Girardi will likely want him since he's a righty.

    Chris Stewart is the backup catcher and Nunez is a late-inning pinch runner unless he does get the nod in the DH slot against lefties. Gardner closes out the roster purely as a defensive specialist and pinch-runner who is unable to bat due to his elbow injury.

Bullpen

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    Bullpen (in order from late-game to early innings)

    Closer- Rafael Soriano

    Set-up Man (8th)- Dave Robertson

    Set-up Man (7th)- Joba Chamberlain

    Set-up Man (6th)- Derek Lowe

    Lefty Specialist- Boone Logan

    Lefty Specialist No. 2- Clay Rapada

    Long Man and Starter if need be- David Phelps

    Commentary

    The only real debate here is whether Cody Eppley should be on the roster over Derek Lowe, but it's hard to think that someone with Lowe's experience could be left out. He can give the Yankees length and his pedigree as a reliable pitcher in postseason play puts him over the top.

    Otherwise, it's a fairly simple formula for the Yankees now. Ideally, they'd love for their starter to give them seven innings. Of course, eight would be ideal. The Yankees will turn to some combination of Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and Clay Rapada in the seventh inning, possibly even Lowe.

    Then in the eighth and ninth, it's Robertson and Soriano, who are relied upon to take care of business as usual. Don't be surprised if David Phelps finds himself in the action in case the Yankees need him in a pinch due to a poor performance by a starter or unforeseen circumstances.