The Yankees 25-man roster for tonight’s winner-take-all wild card game was officially released this morning. Though Girardi probably won’t release the official lineup card until close to game time, the roster will include;
Obviously by now we all know Masahiro Tanaka will be getting the start tonight against potential Cy-Young award winner Dallas Keuchel. This will be the first major league playoff start for either of the two pitchers, and the Yankees are hoping their $155 million dollar investment will carry his playoff numbers from Japan over to the Bronx.
Luis Severino is in line to start game one of the American League Divisional Series should the Yankees make it that far, and barring extra-innings and extreme use of the Yankees relievers, Severino probably won’t be a factor in tonight’s ball game.
Adam Warren, James Pazos, Ivan Nova, Bryan Mitchell, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller will anchor the Yankees bullpen. Notable bullpen arms left off the roster include Nick Goody, Andrew Bailey and Chasen Shreve – each of whom have seen their fair share of troubles in the end of the regular season.
Brian McCann has struggled mightily in the second half of the season, slashing .200/.306/.395 since the All-Star Break. Interestingly enough, this may lead to skipper Joe Girardi electing to go with John Ryan Murphy, who is hitting .266 off lefties this year over the veteran McCann. Murphy was also behind the dish for both starts against Keuchel this year, going 2-for-5 with a pair of singles. Both McCann and Murphy are great defensive backstops, and they’ll have to contend with a strong Houston running game throughout the night. It’s important to note that McCann has been behind the dish for a majority of Tanaka’s starts, but in just five starts with Murphy behind the plate, Tanaka has a 2.83 ERA with 32 strikeouts and four walks in 35 innings pitched.
Headley and Bird will man the corners of the infield while Gregorius will play shortstop, but who will play second base? Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan are a combined 0-for-13 off Keuchel while Refsnyder is yet to face him. Refsnyder does usually hit much better off righties, which doesn’t help the case, but you can still make the argument that he’s much more of an offensive threat than either Ackley or Ryan. However, Girardi might elect to start Ryan and go with defense and run prevention over offense. Time will tell.
A-Rod will obviously bat DH and solidify the middle of the Yankees batting order. Though he is 1-for-7 off Keuchel, the veteran is still a career .263 post-season hitter with 13 homers and 41 RBI. He needs to step up big-time tonight for the Yankees.
Carlos Beltran needs to be a key performer for the Yankees. He’s one of the few guys on this roster with playoff experience and the Yankees wen’t out and signed him to a three-year deal because of what he can bring to the table in October. The 38-year old is a career .333 post-season hitter with 16 home runs and 40 RBI in 51 playoff games. Hopefully the veteran can put the fact that his wife is in labor to the side and jut worry about baseball tonight.
Jacoby Ellsbury is probably a lock to start in centerfield, but I’m not so sure about Brett Gardner. Gardner is 0-for-4 off Keuchel and his production really tailed off in the second half of the season. Though Gardner is one of the outspoken leaders of this team, you can’t look past Chris Young and his .327 batting average off lefties. Also, having gone 6-for-20 with two doubles, one triple and one home run off Keuchel, it looks as if Chris Young is the only Yankees hitter who’s figured out Houston’s ace. Young is also a career .326 playoff hitter with with five home runs and nine RBI in 12 playoff games.
Look for Rico Noel to wreak havoc on the base paths in a pinch-run situation late in the ballgames should the Yankees need it.
Big time players make big time plays in big time games. Who will step up tonight for the New York Yankees?
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