That sound you hear is Aaron Hicks screaming at the sight of Brendan Kuty’s projected Yankees playoff roster. Or maybe he’s still just slumped over in left field, watching the wheels go ’round and ’round.
This year’s Yankees are in a much better playoff position now than they were two weeks ago, but still haven’t clinched anything, and will likely have to fight tooth-and-nail for postseason positioning down the stretch, especially in an all-important clash with the Toronto Blue Jays on the road in two weeks.
Still, after their final road series at Tropicana Field with the Rays, things felt hopeless. Anthony Rizzo didn’t seem to be able to sit up straight, and was advised against … moving. DJ LeMahieu’s toe, which everyone assured would not land him on the IL, landed him on the IL. Andrew Benintendi’s wrist somehow detached from his arm via a hook.
Suddenly, the Yankees are on the verge of a much different issue. Both LeMahieu and Rizzo aim to be back in the coming days, and New York will also be adding Aroldis Chapman for the Milwaukee series, with Harrison Bader, Luis Severino, Zack Britton, Scott Effross and Miguel Castro reportedly right behind him.
Who will the Yanks jettison off the roster in favor of these big names as the postseason approaches? Maybe … maybe a couple of them don’t make it onto the island, either.
According to Yankees beat writer Brendan Kuty, a few rehabbing familiar faces will find themselves both fully healthy and excluded, with Clarke Schmidt and Effross getting ‘pen roles in his projections, leaving Chapman, Britton and Castro all on the outside looking in.
Kuty also fulfilled Yankee fans’ dreams by carrying Oswaldo Cabrera and Tim Locastro as a pinch runner, leaving Hicks out of the picture, too.
Yankees’ Brendan Kuty doesn’t see Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Hicks on playoff roster
It would be difficult to foresee the Yankees really entering October without Hicks’ proven patience. Didn’t they go to him first off the bench in extra innings this week against Jeurys Familia, despite his last 30 games of a .115 average, because they knew he could take a walk? Cashman and Co. cutting bait on an expensive mistake … there’d be a first time for everything. In our projections, Cabrera’s the pinch runner and Hicks makes the group over Locastro, but … you never know. Hicks probably can’t play home games anymore after last week’s Rays debacle. That’d be quite a pill to swallow, with limited roster space.
As for Britton, Chapman, Castro and Co., it’s almost impossible to rise in the circle of trust in a two-week period at the end of the season. As much as Britton seems to be dreaming about impacting a playoff roster after a full-length Tommy John rehab, it just doesn’t seem very likely, especially with so many bullpen roles already filled with trusted confidants. You really want to remove Clarke Schmidt from the fray after what he’s done all season long, capped with his dominance of the heart of the Red Sox order on Wednesday? Minor-league options are no longer a factor. The time to lean on the best possible arms is now.
Kuty’s projection doesn’t even include Domingo German, who did a better-than-expected job navigating the Yankees through the non-Sevy portion of their season, but probably won’t be entering a postseason game pending disaster (with Jameson Taillon currently slotting into a long relief role).
This is a ruthless business, and Kuty made a number of difficult (and likely correct) calls. Can anyone trust the Yankees to do the same?