So I’ve done this twice already, but the Yankees have not set the roster and choosing 25 players the team would be comfortable with is a real dynamic issue that changes with every big performance and every cut and bruise.
Since we last looked at the team two injury question marks, while maybe not 100% clear, have come better into focus, I’m talking about David Robertson and Jerry Hairston Jr. Robertson has returned and appears to be pitching as well as he was before the injury and Hairston played in the final few games without a flare-up of his wrist.
Sergio Mitre is a guy who looks like he has been added to the injury concerns list. According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, Mitre is suffering from biceps tendinitis and is expected to miss at least the ALDS.
There was also Joba Chamberlain’s performance out of the bullpen yesterday. As a starter this season, Joba has sometimes looked almost bored on the mound, not agreeing with the catchers at times, and occasionally slowing his pace down to that of Sindey Ponson walking away from a buffet. But out of the pen yesterday he looked sharp and intense. He even made it look easy when he was reaching 96 MPH.
Regardless of what you thought of Joba’s outing out of the pen this does change things a little bit and, at least in the ALDS. The Yankees have now returned him back to the pen. This is still unlikely to change what his long-term plans are, but it does signal that the Yankees are likely to use him out of the pen in the near future.
Finally, the last thing that will have a major effect on the roster is their schedule. They still don’t have an opponent and manager Joe Girardi has not committed to which playoff series he’ll choose, one that starts Wednesday with an extra off day or one that starts Thursday, but he has reportedly told CC Sabathia to expect to pitch Wednesday. He might be just making sure that CC is ready if they need him sooner or he may have tipped his hand.
Assuming they do start Wednesday they’ll have an extra off day and will only need three starting pitchers during the five game series. That means that they would only need to carry 10 pitchers with seven relievers. That’s a standard 12 man pitching staff with a five man rotation.
So let’s break it down, here are the locks:
That sets the pitching staff. Chad Gaudin and Brian Bruney would be the odd men out here. Gaudin would not be needed as a starter and in such a short series Joba and Aceves could act as a long-man if needed. Bruney just hasn’t been consistent enough despite a couple of strong appearances right at the end. The thing is, if the Yankees make the ALCS one or both pitchers could be back on the roster.
So there are two spots left to fill and it will be filled with just position players. It seems that the popular favorites to make the team are Freddy Guzman and Francisco Cervelli and not Ramiro Pena. At first this didn’t seem like a great idea to me, but it seems that Girardi is set on starting Molina when Burnett pitches. In that case carrying Cervelli makes sense because it would allow them to keep Posada in the game as the DH. It would also allow them to pinch run for Posada, their slowest runner, without fear of not having a catcher in an emergency.
Pena seems less important than Guzman because of Guzman’s speed and the fact that Hairston makes him redundant. Pena’s speed isn’t anything to ignore, but it isn’t game changing like Guzman. It’s true that they already have Gardner, but he’s probably going to split time with Cabrera as a starter so carrying Guzman allows them to always have speed off the bench even if Gardner is starting.