The Yankees' Opening Day roster is fairly settled, despite a few roles still remaining up for grabs. While the lineup is malleable and the rotation could shift, we by and large know the names who will be making the trip north for March 30, pending a last-minute shuffle.
According to MLB.com, though, the first man in line to grab an empty space might not be someone you're expecting.
Coming off a strong season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being swiped from the Rays organization, left-hander Matt Krook is likely to be 2023's version of JP Sears, and should make a big-league impact whether or not he's active for the opener.
His case for being buzzworthy was hurt by the fact that his successful spring debut came in the only completely non-televised game of camp so far (in Orlando against the Rays in a 12-0 blowout loss Tuesday), but Krook's pair of scoreless innings (with three whiffs) were noteworthy, especially considering most other pitchers were crushed that day.
MLB's Bryan Hoch believes he deserves a shot to make the roster, especially if any of the team's top options fall victim to early injury.
Yankees Opening Day Roster: Matt Krook coming to steal spot?
As Hoch wrote this week (while spilling a previously-unknown tidbit):
"Krook may not be a household name, but the Yankees have spoken highly of the 28-year-old left-hander, who enters the season on the cusp of making his Major League debut. Manager Aaron Boone said that Krook presents 'a real problem for lefties,' adding that the club was 'seriously considering' activating him for the 2022 postseason."- Bryan Hoch, MLB.com
The 2022 postseason?! For his MLB debut?!
Makes sense, especially considering the circumstances of last year's playoff roster construction conversation. Aroldis Chapman walked off in protest after being told a spot couldn't be promised to him, only for Scott Effross to suffer an elbow injury shortly thereafter. Ron Marinaccio was also unable to rehab his shin in time to make an impact, forcing Frankie Montas' unexpected return (and relegation to the bullpen).
Yeah. Amid all that kraziness, why not Krook?!
In 138.2 innings at Triple-A Scranton last year, Krook whiffed 155 batters, marking his second straight impressive season in the Yankees' system. All told, he's now thrown 215.1 innings at Triple-A across the past two years, which indicates he's done more than get his feet wet in the high minors.
With very little left to prove down there, the big-league Yankees could be calling. Hopefully, they give him a softer landing than the ALDS for his debut.