Mailbag: Playoff bullpen, Taillon’s workload, 40-man crunch

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Happy Friday and Labor Day weekend, everyone. It’s looking like an absolutely gorgeous next few days in New York now that the remnants of Ida have passed through here. I hope any of you affected by the storm are safe and sound now that it’s passed by. Things got pretty hairy here for a bit, that’s for sure.

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve opened the mailbag, but it returns today. There are a few questions to address after the jump, but first, a reminder to send your questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com or tweet us @ViewsFrom314Ft. We’ll include our favorites in future editions.

Bob asks: Assuming playoffs start today, what does your bullpen look like? Assume a rotation of Cole, Taillon, Kluber, and Monty.

Iron Mike asks: Who of the following will realistically be the biggest bullpen addition to our postseason roster: Severino, Schmidt, or Gil?

I’m pairing these two questions together as they go hand-in-hand. But I also don’t think it’s possible to answer these without listing an entire postseason roster, either. For instance, if you look back to the 2018 Wild Card game, the Yankees carried just ten pitchers. Doing the same this year is possible, which then leads to: who are the extra bench players?

It’s also worth noting that the first question assumes a Division Series appearance because there’s no need to set a rotation for the Wild Card game, obviously. I’ll put together a roster for the ALDS, but first, let’s do one for the Wild Card game because barring a big comeback in the division, that’s where the team is headed first.

Wild Card Game Roster:

Starter/Long Relief

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Jameson Taillon
  3. Luis Gil

Bullpen

  1. Aroldis Chapman
  2. Jonathan Loáisiga
  3. Chad Green
  4. Wandy Peralta
  5. Lucas Luetge
  6. Clay Holmes
  7. Joely Rodríguez

Position Players

  1. Gary Sánchez
  2. Kyle Higashioka
  3. Rob Brantly
  4. Anthony Rizzo
  5. Luke Voit
  6. DJ LeMahieu
  7. Gio Urshela
  8. Gleyber Torres
  9. Tyler Wade
  10. Andrew Velazquez
  11. Rougned Odor
  12. Joey Gallo
  13. Brett Gardner
  14. Aaron Judge
  15. Giancarlo Stanton
  16. Jonathan Davis
  • Left off (40-man): Jordan Montgomery, Corey Kluber, Andrew Heaney, Nestor Cortes, Estevan Florial, Albert Abreu, Nick Nelson, Clarke Schmidt, Deivi García, Brooks Kriske, Luis Medina, Andrew Velazquez, Estevan Florial, Chris Gittens, Oswald Peraza
  • Injured (40-man): Miguel Andújar, Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks, Tim Locastro, Domingo Germán, Luis Severino, Zack Britton, Michael King, Darren O’Day, Yoendrys Gómez

I’m going with 10 pitchers here, just like 2018. Cole is starting (duh), and I think the likes of Taillon and Gil are the best fits in relief given their swing-and-miss profiles compared to the other traditional starters. Heaney just isn’t worth a spot, and I don’t think we can count on Severino right now. Cortes is a just-miss for me, though there’s definitely a case for him over Luetge or Rodríguez.

By choosing Gil, I’ve addressed question number two. The Yankees are already starting to try him out if the ‘pen in Triple-A. Schmidt is still pitching out of Scranton’s rotation, and given that he’s missed much of the season, I presume the organization wants to keep him in a normal starter’s routine. And like I said before, Severino’s running out of time to get back and hard to count on.

By going with 10 pitchers, I’ve added three bench spots (there’s usually a 13/13 split in pre-September ball). I think the Yankees would carry a third catcher (they carried Erik Kratz in ’18) so they could potentially pinch run late in the game and still have an emergency backup. The issue is that Sánchez and Higgy are the only two 40-man backstops and the 40-man is full, so room for Brantly would have to be made. Maybe transferring Yoendrys Gómez to the 60-day would work to make space for Brantly.

The two other added bench spots go to Velazquez and Davis who can both serve as pinch runners and/or defensive replacements. I’m assuming Wade, Odor, and Gardner (assuming the jumbo package lineup) have landed bench roles already (though as you’ll see in a moment, I prefer Velazquez to Wade in the DS).

Alright, with that out of the way, let’s get to the ALDS roster:

Starters:

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Jordan Montgomery
  3. Jameson Taillon
  4. Corey Kluber

Relievers

  1. Aroldis Chapman
  2. Jonathan Loáisiga
  3. Chad Green
  4. Wandy Peralta
  5. Lucas Luetge
  6. Clay Holmes
  7. Joely Rodríguez
  8. Nestor Cortes
  9. Luis Gil

Position Players

  1. Gary Sánchez
  2. Kyle Higashioka
  3. Anthony Rizzo
  4. Luke Voit
  5. DJ LeMahieu
  6. Gio Urshela
  7. Gleyber Torres
  8. Andrew Velazquez
  9. Rougned Odor
  10. Joey Gallo
  11. Brett Gardner
  12. Aaron Judge
  13. Giancarlo Stanton

Here, I’m subtracting Brantly, Wade, and Davis to bring Montgomery and Kluber on board. The bullpen looks the same, minus Taillon who goes back to the rotation after serving as a potential long guy in the Wild Card game. Brantly and Davis were easier calls to make than Wade, but Velazquez won out for me because he’s a better defender and is just as fast (if not faster) than Wade.

Rich asks: Is it time to skip a couple of Taillon’s starts this month? Looks like he’s burned out and we’ll need him if we are in the DS.

Before the season began, Taillon stated that a 120 to 150 inning range seemed reasonable, though he was also on board with playing it by ear depending on how he felt. He’s at 131.2 right now, and as long as he stays in turn the rest of the way, he’s going to push right up against 150 in the regular season. With that in mind, some concern is warranted. But at the same time, I’m not sure this is something that can be answered by anyone from the outside looking in. I know that’s a bit of a cop out, but there’s just no way to actually know how Taillon is feeling or how the training staff has evaluated his health.

It’s true that he hasn’t looked good of late: 17 runs allowed in his last four starts, which could indicate some fatigue. But at the same time, it’s not like we’re seeing any obvious indicators of wear-and-tear, such as decreased fastball velocity:

In fact, his fastball velo has ticked up a slight bit in his last two starts, and is pretty in line with what we’ve seen most of the season.

One other potential indicator: release point. A stark drop could point to tiredness.

There has been a lower release since the All-Star break. Still, I don’t want to read into this too much. He’s mostly been between 6.15 and 6.25 feet this year, and the recent outings below that range have been off by no more than an inch of that. Plus, his last two starts have climbed him back to that range.

So, there are no clear cut signs that Taillon is tired other than poor results. And for what it’s worth, he did look pretty good against the Angels his last time out before things unraveled in the fourth.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that the Yankees are still in a tight playoff race for the top Wild Card spot, so it’s not like they can afford to give one of their better starters a week or two break, especially if there’s nothing obviously wrong with him.

To bring it all together, I’m inclined to trust Taillon and the training staff here. We just don’t know everything from the outside and other than results, there’s nothing screaming fatigue. I know, I know, results matter, but it seems like his stuff is OK. Hopefully this is just a little blip.

Josh asks: Not sure if you did this already. I was wondering what the 40-man roster crunch looks like for next year post trade deadline. Hopefully, there won’t be another Whitlock type player left off. 

There’s definitely going to be a roster crunch. The Yankees have 48 players on the 40-man roster right now, meaning eight on the 60-day injured list. Those guys need to return to the 40-man after the World Series. Some, like Luis Severino, could return even sooner than that and necessitate a corresponding move.

Here’s a summary of who will either re-join (i.e. injured list players) and/or depart the 40-man roster after the World Series.

  • 60-day injured list (8): Zack Britton, Michael King, Darren O’Day, Luis Severino, Miguel Andújar, Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks, Tim Locastro
  • Free agents (3): Anthony Rizzo, Corey Kluber, Andrew Heaney
  • Mutual option (1): Brett Gardner
  • Club option (1): Joely Rodríguez
  • Player option (1) Darren O’Day

Of the 60-day players, figure all but Locastro get added back (I think Locastro gets DFA’d), which brings us down to 47. The free agents get us down to 44. Depending on the options, things could go as low as 41, though I fully expect O’Day to pick up his option.

Regardless of how the options play out, the Yankees will need to DFA a few players right after the World Series, in addition to the aforementioned Locastro. Some bubble guys include: Brooks Kriske, Nick Nelson, Lucas Luetge, Chris Gittens, Rougned Odor, and Jonathan Davis. Additionally, the team will need to decide on minor league free agents right away. Donny Sands, who I believe is eligible for free agency, comes to mind as a potential additional catcher.

From there, the Yankees will have some time to do more 40-man cleanup ahead of the Rule 5 protection deadline in late November. A trade or two almost certainly will be in order. Then, they’ll consider who to add to the 40-man from the following non-fully inclusive list of Rule 5 eligible players:

Notable First Timers

  • C Josh Breaux
  • OF Brandon Lockridge
  • RHP Randy Vasquez
  • OF Everson Pereira
  • RHP Matt Sauer
  • RHP Stephen Ridings

Notable Repeats

  • IF Oswaldo Cabrera
  • OF Trey Amburgey
  • LHP JP Sears
  • RHP Ron Marinaccio
  • RHP Greg Weissert
  • RHP Shawn Semple
  • LHP Trevor Lane
  • RHP Jhony Brito
  • LHP Matt Krook

We’ll definitely dig deeper into the Rule 5 guys in the offseason, but for the time being, I’d say all of the first timers except Lockridge will be added to the 40-man roster.

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1 Comment

  1. Yanks will have major decisions on rule 5. I agree on Breaux, Vasquez, Pereira, Ridings. Sauer has promise but can’t see him making it through spring training if he gets picked. Cabrera needs to be added to 40. One or more of the others will get picked if not protected but can’t protect everyone.
    Kriske, Nelson, Gittens and Davis cut or traded. They love Leutge and Odor.

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