Now that the Yankees have clinched a spot in the 2022 postseason, it’s time to start looking ahead to their potential matchups and roster construction as they pursue a 28th World Series championship, and the franchise’s first since 2009.
“We’ve got a lot more business to do here,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It started a long time ago; a lot of work, a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point. Adversity, highs and lows. I’m excited we’re going to get an opportunity, and now, we want to go improve on that.”
What might the postseason roster look like?
C: José Trevino, Kyle Higashioka
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres
3B: Josh Donaldson
SS: Isiah Kiner-Falefa
LF: Oswaldo Cabrera
CF: Harrison Bader
RF: Aaron Judge
DH: Giancarlo Stanton
UTL: Marwin Gonzalez
SP: Gerrit Cole, Frankie Montas, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes
PR: Aroldis Chapman, Scott Effross, Domingo Germán, Jonathan Loáisiga, Lucas Luetge, Ron Marinaccio, Wandy Peralta, Clarke Schmidt, Lou Trivino
CL: Clay Holmes
How could the above postseason roster change?
The Yankees are holding out hope that rest will cure the right second toe issue that has ailed LeMahieu throughout much of the second half, sapping his extra-base power. Even so, Boone has said that they do not believe LeMahieu will be fully healthy again until the offseason, so a reinjury is possible.
Matt Carpenter (left foot fracture) and Andrew Benintendi (broken bone in right hand) may be able to return from their respective injuries during the postseason. Carpenter appears to be ahead of Benintendi, and he has said that he plans to play even if his left foot is not fully healed. Consider him a possibility for the American League Division Series, while Benintendi might not be ready until the AL Championship Series.
The above roster includes Peralta, who is expected to return during the final series of the regular season at Texas. It does not include Aaron Hicks, as the outfielder’s playing time has been impacted by Bader’s return from the injured list.
While rookie infielder Oswald Peraza is eligible to play in the postseason because he was on the 40-man roster before Sept. 1, we’re also not projecting him to make the cut, although that could be a toss-up with the more experienced Gonzalez.
What are the potential first-round matchups?
Assuming the Yankees hold on to win the AL East, their most likely opponents in the AL Division Series would be the Blue Jays, Rays or Mariners, with the Bombers owning home-field advantage against any opponents by virtue of their better overall record.
This season, New York is 9-7 against Toronto, with three games still to be played at Rogers Center from Sept. 26-28. It won the season series against Tampa Bay, 11-8, but it went 2-4 against Seattle.
Who’s in the postseason rotation?
Cole will get the ball for Game 1, and then there is some question about how the rest would slot in behind the ace. Montas was acquired from the A’s in hopes he’d become a solid No. 2 in a postseason series, but he is dealing with right shoulder inflammation and pitched to a 6.35 ERA in his first eight Yankees starts. Keep in mind that Montas has had success against the Astros, especially at Minute Maid Park, which could be a storyline in a potential ALCS matchup.
Severino was upset that the Yankees placed him on the 60-day injured list, but he acknowledges that they might have kept him fresher for September and October. Cortes has been one of baseball’s best stories, and the All-Star left-hander deserves another turn on the national stage. The Yankees traded Jordan Montgomery because they didn’t see him getting a postseason start, so Montas’ health is key to determining if Germán or Jameson Taillon are in the rotation.
Who is the Yankees’ closer?
That would have been a silly question in April, but Chapman has been ineffective and/or absent for much of the year. Throughout most of the first half, Holmes had the job on lock, earning his first All-Star selection.
But now, as the Yanks approach October, their late-inning sequences are fluid. Loáisiga might be one of the most trusted relievers in the bullpen, although Holmes is still considered the ninth-inning guy. Boone will have to be creative after the starters exit.
Will the Yankees have enough offense for October?
Judge can’t do it alone — or can he? He certainly tried in August, carrying a limping squad to each of their 10 victories in that tough month, and now, reinforcements are in place. Rizzo’s left-handed bat offers needed balance, Torres has been swinging a hot stick and Stanton may have felt something click into place when he hit that memorable ninth-inning walk-off grand slam against the Pirates.
Bader’s early returns have been impressive, as he appears to be a promising contributor on both sides of the ball. Cabrera shows a maturity beyond his years and has been working out in left field regularly of late, hinting that the Yanks are strongly considering him as a starter with Benintendi out.
What is the Yankees’ recent postseason history?
To refresh your memory, the Yanks were eliminated by the Red Sox in the 2021 AL Wild Card Game. They lost to the Rays in five games in the ALDS in ’20, and they ended their ’19 season in Houston by dropping the ALCS to the Astros in six games.
The Yankees have not reached the World Series since 2009, when they broke in the new Yankee Stadium with a championship celebration.