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Monday, October 5, 2015

Yankees wildcard roster and lineup: some thoughts.

The Yankees host the Houston Astros in the American Conference wildcard game tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium.  The winner then goes to Kansas City to play the top seeded Royals two days later in round one.

I haven't paid attention to what wildcard teams did the last couple of years in the do-or-die elimination game but here are some thoughts for the one game roster and lineup against the Houston lefty starting pitcher Dallas Kuechel.
Photo of Dallas Keuchel
1. Carry at most two starting pitchers: Masahiro Tanaka, who will start, and maybe Micheal Pineda to act as a shadow starter and possibly come out of the bullpen.  Swing man Adam Warren will, of course, be in the bullpen.  I don't want CC Sabathia coming out of the pen and I see him starting game one in the first round five game series, then Luis Severino in game two.  Tanaka three, Pineda four.

2. Carry a third catcher but hold him out only for an emergency.

3. Load up on extra non-pitchers, definitely that pinch runner Rico Neol.  And OF Slade Heathcott.

4. Maybe an extra lefty reliever or two like James Pazos.

Lineup:

Bench lefties, especially catcher Brian McCann who is slumping, tired, choking: take your pick; start J.R. Murphy Start fielder Brendan Ryan or hitter Rob Refsnyder at 2B.  Stephen Drew is not available.  We saw Sunday how a weak 2B fielder (Dustin Ackley) can be exposed, so I don't think Refsnyder starting is automatic.  How about Ryan at SS in place of Didi Gregorius?

I'd bench both lefty batters LF Brett Gardner and CF Jacoby Ellsbury if Yanks had another righty OF but bench one and play Chris Young.  That would leave the Yankees with only one other lefty batter starting: rookie 1B Greg Bird, who is the word.

Force Kuechel out ASAP.  He's never started on three days rest before as he will in this wildcard game.

Push the better batters up in the batting order.  Definitely do not start Gardner and Ellsbury at the top as they usually do.  If Refsnyder starts, then bat him leadoff and come right along with DH Alex Rodriguez and RF Carlos Beltran.  After that it's problematic.  Apply maximum pressure on Kuechel immediately.

How about this almost all righty lineup?

Refsynder 2B
Rodriguez DH
Beltran RF switch hitter
Headley 3B switch hitter
Young LF
Bird 1B lefty
Gardner CF lefty
Murphy C
Ryan SS

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