Yankees: Don’t expect Giancarlo Stanton to be on the bench this postseason
There’s still no exact timetable for when we might see Giancarlo Stanton return from the IL, but he recently started facing live pitching so hopefully, he’ll be back very soon. The Yankees have obviously fared just fine without him throughout the season, but make no mistake about it, if he’s healthy he’s going to be in the starting lineup this postseason.
It’s been a lost season for the former NL MVP Stanton up to this point but he’ll have a chance to salvage it if he can help the Yankees win another championship this October. Stanton has only appeared in nine games this season due to injury and has been out since June 27th with a right knee sprain. He sprained his knee just six days after he returned from a previous stint on the IL that started all the way back on April 1st.
Stanton is finally getting closer to a return after he took some live at-bats against Dellin Betances during a simulated game on Tuesday. This weekend he’ll be at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa to get more live at-bats and if all goes well he could begin a rehab assignment next week with Double-A Trenton or Triple-A Scranton if they’re still in the minor league playoffs.
In the absence of Stanton, the Yankees outfield has still been very productive thanks to the efforts of guys like Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin, and Mike Tauchman. All three have made a huge impact for the Yanks this season, not only filling in for Stanton but for Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks as well.
Judge has been back since June 21st after straining his oblique on April 20th and caught fire during the team’s recent nine-game west coast trip when he hit six home runs. Hicks, like Stanton, is also on the IL after he strained his right flexor tendon on August 3rd. He resumed throwing on Monday which reportedly went well, but there’s still no timetable for his eventual return either.
If and when Hicks comes back he’s going to be the Yankees starting center fielder during the playoffs, just like Stanton will likely be the team’s starting left fielder. Despite the efforts of guys like Maybin and Tauchman they’re probably not going to be on the Yankees 25-man roster this postseason if Hicks and Stanton are healthy. Gardner will definitely be, but it will be as the fourth outfielder off the bench and not as a starter.
I’m sure a lot of fans would rather see Gardner or Tacuhman get the nod in left field considering how well they’ve played all season, but if Stanton is on the active roster it’s simply not going to happen. The Yankees really haven’t missed Stanton at all this season which is incredible when you think about it, but that doesn’t mean they’re just going to sit him on the bench if he’s healthy and ready to contribute.
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They’ve committed too much money to him and he’s been too good of a player throughout his career to deserve such a demotion just because of an injury. If he was 38 years old and his prime years were clearly behind him than you could make a stronger case to bench him, but he’s still only 29 and last season he hit 38 HR and drive in 100 runs. The season before he hit 59 bombs and won the NL MVP so he still has plenty of big years ahead of him.
I know his performance last postseason wasn’t a good one and this season he’s hasn’t contributed much at all because of injuries. However, as long as he’s healthy he can be a difference-maker who can change the outcome of a game with one swing of the bat. He’s also proven to be a team player with a positive his entire career so there’s no reason to worry about him disrupting the chemistry the Yanks have built over the course of the season.
It might be a controversial decision to many but for the Yankees, the decision to start Stanton in the playoffs will be a rather easy one. Could it backfire on them? Sure, but it’s worth the risk because if he plays as well as he’s capable of playing this lineup is going to be an unstoppable force come October.