The Yankees are starting to get some players back from the injured list, and that is good news. However, it creates some incredibly tough decisions when it comes to the postseason roster.
DJ LeMahieu is on the verge of returning from his toe injury, but can the Yankees in good conscience play him over Gleyber Torres or Josh Donaldson knowing how well they have played as of late?
Josh Donaldson since Sept. 1: 112 wRC+
Gleyber Torres since Sept. 1: 169 wRC+
There is no justification for taking Torres out of the lineup right now, he has been a monster in the postseason in the past and is hot at the right time. If LeMahieu is physically able to perform as he was earlier in the season, then you could justify playing him at third base over Donaldson. However, the last time we saw LeMahieu he struggled as much as anyone on the roster offensively. If he’s not 100% or close to it, the best route might be making the tough decision to not put him in the starting lineup in the postseason.
Then we have Matt Carpenter, who is hopeful to return to the Yankees for the final series of the regular season in Texas. There is no arguing with how good Carpenter has been this year, and if the Yankees think he can pick up where he left off he should be in the lineup. Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t gotten to his peak form since returning from injury, but it’s unlikely the Yankees would sit him in the playoffs given his pedigree. Is there a chance he moves to the outfield and makes room for Carpenter in the DH spot? Probably not, but that would create an interesting dilemma.
Oswaldo Cabrera has performed really well on both sides of the ball, but he would probably be the odd man out if Stanton were to play the outfield. All of this doesn’t even take into account Andrew Benintendi, who is not going to return before the regular season ends. He could return at some point in the playoffs though. If someone like Cabrera isn’t hitting well and the Yankees don’t want to go to Aaron Hicks, you might see Benintendi back out there.
It’s really tough, and my preference for the postseason lineup changes each day. But I’m going to take my best guess at the lineup for game one of the ALDS.
RF: Aaron Judge
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: Gleyber Torres
DH: Giancarlo Stanton
3B: Josh Donaldson
LF: Oswaldo Cabrera
CF: Harrison Bader
SS: Isiah Kiner-Falefa
C: Jose Trevino
Outside of Judge’s attempt to pass Maris, the roster gymnastics will be the most interesting thing to watch for the Yankees as the regular season comes to a close.
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