The Yankees are clearly using their final 20 games to figure out who will make their 25-man roster for the ALDS. That’s why minor league journeyman speedster Freddy Guzman is on the major league roster and why relievers such as Brian Bruney are getting game opportunities that otherwise seem unearned given their overall performance.
There are still some questions that need to be answered, chief among them whether or not David Robertson will be available and effective by season’s end, but prompted by Joe Girardi’s use of Bruney and Jonathan Alabaladejo last night and Brian Cashman’s comments about Joba Chamberlain (coming up), I thought I’d weigh in on the subject.
First, here are Cashman’s comments on Joba via Pete Caldera’s blog:
He needs to declare himself. He’s no different than anyone else. Everybody loves his tenacity,but we’re going to take the best 10 guys. There’s no assumptions there. He’s put himself in a position where the manager has to make a decision that there’s not one guy ahead of him that he needs to give the ball to. He might not realize it, but he’s in competition with any number of guys to take the ball.
Also relevant to Joba’s situation is the fact that the Yankees, assuming they finish with the best record in the league, will be able to chose which of the two ALDS schedules they’ll play. One would require a normal four starters, but the other includes and extra off-day and would allow them to use just three starters in the first round. Given how Chamberlain has pitched of late, I’m guessing they’ll go with the three-starter scenario.
While I would understand the team trying to send a message to Joba by leaving him off the ALDS roster (while simultaneously allowing him to pitch simulated games to stay ready for the ALCS), I’d be surprised to see them pass up the chance to use him out of the bullpen in the ALDS.
Cashman’s quote indicates that the Yankees will bring just ten pitchers to the ALDS, which should result in something like this:
L – CC Sabathia
L – Andy Pettitte
R – A.J. Burnett
R – Mariano Rivera
R – Phil Hughes
L – Phil Coke
R – Alfredo Aceves
R – Joba Chamberlain
L – Damaso Marte
R – Chad Gaudin
Marte has allowed a run in just one of his eight appearances since returning from the DL. In those eight appearances, he hasn’t allowed any of his ten inherited runners to score, hasn’t allowed a home run, and has struck out six in 5 1/3 innings against two walks. Gaudin, whose start tonight could significantly reinforce or undermine his chances for making the postseason roster, has a 3.68 ERA as a Yankee and can be an effective long-man in case of an early exit by a starter, a deep extra-inning game, or can eat innings in a blowout.
Note that David Robertson is currently rehabbing a sore elbow and was last seen playing catch at 60 feet. If he’s able to return effectively during before the season ends, he could bounce Marte, Gaudin, or even Chamberlain from the roster.
So, if the Yankees are only taking ten pitchers, who are their 15 position players? First the starting nine:
1B – Mark Teixeira
2B – Robinson Cano
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – Alex Rodriguez
C – Jorge Posada
RF – Nick Swisher
CF – Melky Cabrera
LF – Johnny Damon
DH – Hideki Matsui
Then the top bench guys:
CF – Brett Gardner
OF – Eric Hinske
UT – Jerry Hairston Jr.
C – Jose Molina
That leaves two spots, which is where you might find a third catcher (Francisco Cervelli) a bonus speed-and-defense player (Freddy Guzman), or an extra infielder (Ramiro Peña). Given the lack of opportunities given to Shelly Duncan since his recall, I don’t think he’s being considered as a right-handed pinch-hitting option. By that same token, Guzman has only appeared in two games thus far, suggesting that he’s not being seriously considered either. It could be that one of those spots goes to a healthy Robertson, giving the Yankees 11 pitchers and an eight-man bullpen in the ALDS.
There are 11 games left on the Yankees’ regular season schedule, including tonight’s. That’s enough time for those last two bench players to make themselves known or for certain relievers to pitch themselves on or off the roster. Alabaladejo and Bruney did themselves no favors last night. We’ll see if Gaudin can do better tonight.