The New York Yankees are facing the Cleveland Guardians in the postseason for the third time in the last six years. The Guardians just completed a two-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card series. Meanwhile, the Yankees have had plenty of decisions to make regarding their roster for the Division Series. What the roster would become was of much consternation to Yankees fans in the last month of the season. From Aroldis Chapman to Matt Carpenter to Oswald Peraza and D.J. LeMahieu, there was far more for team personnel to consider than in years past. The team announced their roster for their matchup against Cleveland early Tuesday. Let’s look at some of the major takeaways from the roster.
The Bullpen is Worrisome
One of the biggest takeaways from the roster is the notable omission of right-handed pitcher Scott Effross. The side-winding righty only pitched 12 2/3 innings since being traded from the Chicago Cubs as he missed a month due to injury. However, he looked good toward the end of the season. He last pitched on October 3, earning the save in a 3-1 win against the Texas Rangers. On the season, Effross pitched 56 2/3 innings with a 2.54 ERA and 9.8 K/9. Being a side-winder, Effross is understandably great against righties, holding them to a .631 OPS. However, Effross held lefties to a .436 OPS this year, making him a valuable piece in the bullpen. With the struggles of Aroldis Chapman and subsequently being left off the roster, Effross was bound to play a huge role for the Yankees.
Miguel Castro is a reliever who takes the place of Effross on the roster. However, he is also a big question mark as he has only made two appearances since July 10th, spending nearly three months on the injured list. It certainly does not help that Castro was not that good this year, evident by his 98 ERA+ and 1.448 WHIP. Additionally, Clay Holmes has not been an effective reliever for three months now (5.33 ERA, 4.41 FIP since July 1). Even with Lou Trivino, Wandy Peralta, and Jonathan Loaisiga being trusted arms in the ‘pen, it is clear the Yankees do not have that single go-to guy that will close out games for them. This is clearly an issue as the bullpen is the team’s biggest weakness.
Matt Carpenter is Back
Matt Carpenter is back! The lefty slugger fractured his left foot back in August and it was unsure if he would return this year. This is a huge addition for the Yankees considering how morbid their offense looked after he went down. In only 47 games this year, Carpenter hit 15 homers, drove in 37 runs, and posted a 1.138 OPS. His 2.4 bWAR ranks seventh on the team which shows just how great he was in his very limited time. While fans have known for weeks that a return is possible, the Effross injury news proves that anything can happen. Coming back from a foot injury, it is clear Boone won’t pencil Carpenter into the outfield. It looks like he will be used mostly as a pinch hitter or DH. Regardless, having him back on the roster is a big sigh of relief for teammates and fans, alike.
Marwin Gonzalez In, Oswald Peraza and D.J. LeMahieu Out
There is no doubt that fans were disappointed to not see Oswald Peraza on the roster. In his sporadic playing time down the stretch (18 games, 57 PA), Peraza hit .306/.404/.429, including his first career homer in Texas. As a dependable bat and above-average defender in both middle infield positions, Peraza would have been a worthwhile addition to the roster. In fact, considering his performance, Peraza might have made a better starting shortstop than Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Meanwhile, Marwin Gonzalez is someone whose play does not really warrant a spot on the roster but whose versatility is valued by the front office.
When looking at the roster, it figures that D.J. LeMahieu’s foot injury is the sole reason why Gonzalez was included. He will serve as their backup first and third baseman. Oswaldo Cabrera is most likely New York’s starting left fielder but will likely serve as a backup to multiple positions as well. There was always a possibility that LeMahieu gets left off the roster. He missed a bit of time toward the end of the season with a toe injury. Per Joel Sherman on Twitter, that injury has evolved into a foot fracture, making his movement even more limited. His injury troubles are concerning because LeMahieu’s great plate discipline and contact skills would have made him a great asset, even as a bench piece.
Final Thoughts on Yankees Division Series Roster
It is clear that the Yankees have enough talent to secure their 28th World Series by this time next month. With all the injuries and underperformance, this will be a very interesting postseason for New York. They will have to rely heavily on Aaron Judge and their three best starters to propel them. Scott Effross is nearly as big a subtraction as Matt Carpenter is as an addition. In total, the Yankees went with 14 position players and 12 pitchers. With Jameson Taillon moving to the bullpen for this series, he joins Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German as arms that can pitch multiple innings at any time. This Yankees roster is potent enough to win it all but some of the question marks will have to sort themselves out within the first game or two of the series.
Aroldis Chapman, Matt Carpenter, Oswald Peraza, DJ LeMahieu, Scott Effross, Miguel Castro, Clay Holmes, Lou Trivino, Wandy Peralta, Jonathan Loaisiga, Marwin Gonzalez, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswaldo Cabrera, Aaron Judge, Jameson Taillon, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo German