The question of whether or not the Yankees will win the American League Eastern Division looms rather large, but at this point with the Red Sox sitting nine games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card standings things look pretty good for their playoff chances.
Over the past two days, Chad Gaudin has been playing a large part in Yankee losses and it has gotten me thinking of his chances of even making the playoff roster. He’s been with the team since they reacquired him in the middle of May, but has had very inconsistent playing time and has typically been in very low leverage situations when he does make it in ball games.
Whether or not he makes the playoff roster is a hard thing to say without examining the entire roster. So I thought today would be as good a day as any to discuss the possible roster. So let’s have at it.
Let’s start with the virtual locks on the pitching staff:
Andy Pettitte (assuming he has no further setbacks)
Here are the virtual locks in the lineup:
So that’s 21 spots locked down out of 25, meaning that there is room for four more players. Here are the players to choose from (players crossed out are almost definitely not making it):
Looking back at the players who are definitely making the roster here are the Yankees needs: Long reliever, utility infielder. Other needs may be a third catcher and speed off the bench.
It seems pretty straightforward, but it isn’t. Vazquez probably makes the team as the long-man, but Nova could make a case for himself in the upcoming weeks. At first glance there doesn’t appear to be room for Moeller, but the Yankees may feel obligated to with all of the injuries Posada has dealt with this year. Also, carrying Moeller on the roster would give them the ability to use Cervelli as a catcher and Posada as the DH in the same game.
There is also the question of who to use as your utility infielder. Pena makes sense as the likely choice, but Nunez has done well for himself offensively since his call-up. So the Yankees could elect to use him because of his bat.
Golson is also a question mark. At first glance it doesn’t appear that there is any room for him at all, but manager Joe Girardi loves having that extra speed and defense off the bench for late game situations. So even though there appears to be very little room for him now, he could end up making the team.
Two other things that will come into play are the schedule and opponent. The schedule matters because the Yankees might be able to get away with using three starters in the first round and wouldn’t need to carry as much pitching.
The opponent also matters, because if the Yankees are facing a left handed heavy team like the Rangers, they may elect to go with Golson as they will play more matchups with their outfielders. Or if they have a speedier team like Tampa, the Yankees may want to carry Moeller as Posada will likely leave every game early for defensive purposes.
So taking all of that into account, here is my choice for the four players the Yankees will carry, at least in the first round:
Javier Vazquez: He’ll be the primary long man in case of injury or ineffectiveness by Burnett.
Sergio Mitre: Mop-up man in case the Yankees get blown out so they don’t have to waste the rest of their bullpen.
Ramiro Pena: He’s a better choice than Nunez because of defense, speed, and experience.
Chad Moeller: They’re not going to want to get caught shorthanded behind the plate and are likely to want to use Cervelli and Posada as starters in the same game.
That’s where I’m at right now, but a lot can change between now and the end of the season. Particularly with the pitching staff. I have both Burnett and Vazquez on the playoff roster, but if Nova out-pitches those players than it very well could be him on the roster and the worst of the three sitting from the side lines. I think it would be most likely that Vazquez sits out the first round if Nova pitches well between now and October.
Do you agree with my locks? And who are your four final roster spots?