Bright Lights, Big Quandary: Who Should be on N.Y. Yankees' Postseason Roster?
Now that the Yankees have clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs, they can sit back and wait to see whether they'll be playing Detroit or Minnesota in the American League Division Series.
Once that's decided, New York will have one hour to choose if they want to play a longer eight-day ALDS beginning on Wednesday or a shorter seven-day series starting on Thursday.
The Bombers will most likely opt for the ALDS with more rest, allowing them to start CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett four times if the series goes the distance.
With that in mind, let's take a look at who I believe should be on the Pinstripes' first round roster.
The southpaw has been absolutely untouchable since the All-Star break, posting an 11-1 record with a 2.36 ERA. It's already been announced that he will start Game One and with him most likely pitching Game Four as well, the Yanks should be in pretty good shape against the AL Central champ.
After a rough stretch in August, during which he went 0-4 with a 6.03 ERA, the right-hander has straightened things out over his last three starts, going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA. He appears ready to get the ball in Games Two and Five, if necessary.
The veteran left-hander is exactly the guy the Yankees want starting an important Game Three. He's 8-3 with a 3.59 ERA on the road this season and 6-2 with a 3.16 mark overall since the All-Star break.
The closer is 8-1 with a 0.77 ERA in his postseason career, but he has had his slip-ups (think '97 ALDS, '01 World Series, and '04 ALCS).
The right-hander's development in the bullpen has been a major plus for the Yankees this year. He's 5-1 with a 1.27 ERA in 49-and-two-thirds innings as a reliever.
Picking the longer series not only allows the team to avoid using Joba, who has struggled since the organization started messing with his rest and innings pitched, as a starter in the ALDS, but it also lets New York utilize him as one of the best seventh-inning relievers to ever grace a playoff mound.
He could also be used in long relief. I'm not worried about a brief stint in the bullpen messing up his return to pitching a full start (potentially in the ALCS and World Series). He can still get some more throwing in on the side in between appearances, and not using him at all would be a waste.
The southpaw hasn't pitched as well since the break, posting a 5.85 ERA in 20 innings, but he's still the best left-handed option the Yankees have out of the 'pen.
Aceves also hasn't been as effective since the middle of July, but he remains a versatile reliever who can get you a couple outs in the seventh. Or he can pitch the fifth and sixth if the starter gets knocked out early.
The 24-year-old returned from injury Tuesday night and looked good, retiring two of the three batters he faced without surrendering a hit or a run. He has 62 strikeouts in 41-and-two-thirds innings, so manager Joe Girardi may call upon him when the team needs a big K.
I wasn't a fan of acquiring Gaudin because of his gaudy numbers with the Padres (4-10, 5.13), but he's pitched well since coming to the Bronx (2-0, 3.54).
I'd rather go to him in an extra-inning game than Brian Bruney, who has been impressive in his last two outings but still has a 1.55 WHIP and scares the daylights out of me.
And he's a better choice than Damaso Marte, who still has a 9.49 ERA despite not giving up a run in his last five games.
The Yankees only need 10 pitchers in this series and I think Gaudin is most deserving of the final spot.
Derek Jeter, SS
Johnny Damon, LF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Hideki Matsui, DH
Jorge Posada, C
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Melky Cabrera, CF
The speedy outfielder will certainly get a start or two in the playoffs, but he's also dangerous off the bench, where you can bring him in to pinch run or lay down a sacrifice bunt.
The catcher has thrown out only 28 percent of basestealers this season after gunning down 44 percent in 2008, but he's still one of the best backups in the league.
Jerry Hairston, Jr.
Hairston pinch ran and played third base in Tuesday night's win over the Royals, so it appears he's okay after an MRI revealed tendinitis in his left wrist. He's only hitting .235 with the Yankees, but his ability to play pretty much any position on the field should earn him a spot on the roster.
Pena can play second, short, or third and has hit .282 in 110 at bats.
Carrying a third catcher allows Girardi to start Molina behind the plate and Posada as the DH and still be able to pinch run for one of them late in a game.
And this is the guy who would pinch run for them. The outfielder has just one at bat for the Yanks this year, but he's 2-for-2 stealing bases. He stole 45 bags and was only caught nine times in the minors this year.
The Yankees have enough power in their lineup, so they wouldn't really need Eric Hinske or Shelley Duncan to come off the bench to supply power late in a game. But there are some guys for whom they'd need to pinch run.
Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison.
Jordan Schwartz is Bleacher Report's New York Yankees Community Leader. His book "Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man" is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.
Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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