If you listen to the podcast, you probably heard Jake say a few episodes back that we should start considering who might be on that Wild Card roster. I’ve decided to take the liberty of actually doing it.
For the purposes of this exercise, I’ll assume all the guys who are currently on the DL and haven’t been ruled out for the year will be back and healthy by then. I’ll revisit this in a month or so when we have a better idea of who is healthy, but for now, let’s just assume everyone that’s on the 10-day DL is good to go for that game.
Let’s start with who is guaranteed a spot.
Catchers (2): Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine
If Gary is healthy, he starts, and Romine will back up. Don’t think I really need to explain why these two would be guaranteed spots, do I?
Infielders (5): Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres, Greg Bird, Miguel Andujar, Neil Walker
Didi, Gleyber, and Andujar will all certainly start. We’ll see what happens with Bird and Walker as far as who starts, but they’ll both certainly be on the team, much to the chagrin of some fans, I’m sure.
Outfielders (4): Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton
These are our starting outfielders and DH if all four are healthy. I hope all four are healthy.
Starting Pitchers (2): Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka
There will be at least two starters on the roster. Last year, both Sonny Gray and CC Sabathia were listed on the roster. There’s been a lot of talk over who would start the game, and after his last appearance, I still think it will be Sevy. I think he’s really turned the corner.
As for the second starter on the roster, I’m not sure who it would actually be, but there needs to be at least one more in case of the hypothetical 20-inning game. I put Tanaka because he would be the guy I think I most trust in that position, but maybe it would be CC or JA Happ. They could put three on there, but I put two for now.
Relievers (7): Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Zach Britton, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Lance Lynn
The first six guys are obvious and I shouldn’t have to explain to you why they are guaranteed spots. Lynn is going to shift to the bullpen. The four starters we’ll (hopefully) see in a series are Sevy, Tanaka, CC, and Happ in some order. Probably that order.
Lynn has playoff bullpen experience from his Cardinals days and he has been mostly very good with the Yankees. He had a tough start against Toronto, and one really bad inning against the Marlins that I don’t think anyone blames on him. I trust him to get me a couple innings in that game if Sevy has an early departure.
Here are the non-guaranteed players that I think they would add.
Last reliever spots (2): Tommy Kahnle, AJ Cole
I think they’d add at least one more person to the bullpen. Honestly, I would guess they’ll add two more, giving them a 9-man bullpen, not including the extra starter, in case of the potential 20-inning game.
Take your pick between Tommy Kahnle, AJ Cole, Sonny Gray, and Justus Sheffield. I’ll pick Kahnle, just because of how much we trusted him a year ago in the playoffs. Sheffield probably won’t be ready to pitch in the winner-take-all game, and I don’t want him to be exposed to that. I don’t trust Sonny or AJ Cole. I’m not sure I trust Kahnle either, but I don’t trust him the least of those three if that makes sense. It seems like the Yanks still love Cole though, for some reason, and he can go multiple innings so I’ll say he will get a spot. If I see him actually enter the game, I’ll go a bit ‘naners, but giving him a roster spot isn’t the most egregious offense.
Final bench spots (3): Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, Ronald Torreyes
The Yankees, under this construction, can add two more people to join Romine and (presumably) Walker on the bench.
Pick two between Tyler Wade, Ronald Torreyes, Luke Voit, Kyle Higashioka, Shane Robinson, and Clint Frazier. If they’re all healthy, they’ll probably add Clint as the extra outfielder. He is a good baserunner and I trust him enough in either corner spot, defensively.
Voit, Higgy, and Shane are all horrible baseball players, so I’ll just eliminate them right now. If they want to take out a reliever and keep Higashioka as a third catcher, then whatever, but I’ll assume they don’t do that, because they didn’t do that for Kratz a year ago.
The last two spots go to Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes, then, by my estimation. Wade is a pinch-running weapon and they are both very good defenders. Toe has the better bat and can technically serve as the “emergency catcher,” if need be.
2 starting pitchers, 9 relievers, 2 catchers, 7 infielders, and 5 outfielders. By my calculations, that adds up to 25 men for the 25-man roster that day. I’ll play this game again a little closer to the game, but that’s what I’ve got about 5.5 weeks away from the game that the Yankees will probably have to play.