Happy Friday, everyone. And what a Friday it is. The Yankees are absolutely rolling and every game looks like it’s a home run derby. I love it. Aaron Boone’s smile there is how I’m feeling all of the time right now.
Anyway, time for a mailbag. We’ve got a ton of good questions today. Please, as always, send your questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com. We choose our favorites every week.
Dan Asks: From a playoff seeding perspective, would you rather the Yanks overcame the Jays and got the 5th seed, playing the Twins in Minnesota, or would you rather the Yanks got stuck at the 7th seed and played Tampa?
This question was obviously sent in before the Yankees dominated the Jays this week, but my answer would have been the same either way: I want the Yankees to play Minnesota. This isn’t just because of Yankees-Twins playoff magic – would you count on that in 2020? – but because I want to avoid facing Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, and Tyler Glasnow in a three-game do-or-die series if at all possible.
I know that Minnesota has been good. Believe me, I do. Kenta Maeda is having a fantastic season. Jose Berrios has great stuff, as does old friend Michael Pineda, and Randy Dobnak has been a surprise as well, even if he’s come back to earth recently. I just would rather take my chances against that rotation than Tampa’s.
To be clear: I am not scared of the Rays. I want nothing more than for the Yankees to play the Rays in the 2020 playoffs. The Yankees are a much better team than them when fully healthy and it will be nice to remind Tampa and their fan of that. But the facts are the facts. And, besides:
Kenny R. Asks: In an ideal world when we get back to full health, how do we keep Frazier and Andújar in this lineup during the playoffs? I can’t see them both playing, and I can only see Frazier getting in if he or Judge slide over to LF.
I don’t think they’ll both even make the playoff roster, which is fine. The fully-healthy Yankees are extremely deep and one of the consequences of that is that talented players are on the chopping block. When fully-healthy, the Yankees outfield in particular is extremely crowded. That said, there is a space in left field that will be open. I think we can confidently say that Giancarlo Stanton will likely be reserved for DH duties come October, and Hicks will man center field and Judge will play in right.
That leaves a space in left field, obviously. Brett Gardner has been hitting the ball much better lately and he has the ~veteran~ experience of playing in the playoffs and winning the World Series. That’s worth something. But the Yanks have already slid Frazier over into left lately. I don’t think that’s an accident, and the way his bat has been playing, coupled with the way the Yankees and Aaron Boone are talking about him, leads me to believe he may just get some left field action in the playoffs. We’ll have to see how they use him in the next week or so to get a better idea.
Jon Asks: Has there been any word on how the Yankees plan to use Domingo Germán in the playoffs, or if they plan to use him at all? I haven’t heard anything about him, but he seems like a weapon that could be useful as a bullpen piece for the postseason.
In theory, yes. He would be a useful bullpen piece. In practice, I don’t think there’s any chance that the Yankees bring him back into the mix for the 2020 playoffs. That went out the window with the 60-game season. In a full 162-game season like normal, we’d have seen Germán at some point. At the very least, we probably would have at least heard something about him.
There’s been no noise about Germán because he’s a non-factor. He isn’t allowed to work out with the team and hasn’t been around them since last September. He had a nice 2019 season before the gross incident but I don’t think he has nearly a long enough track record to warrant rushing him back for the 2020 playoffs. At the earliest, we’ll see Germán again next spring.
Jonathan Asks: I see Deivi is throwing a ton of fastballs and not throwing that many curveballs especially the first time through the order. I know his fastball is sneaky good with deception but when you have a 3,000 RPM+ curveball shouldn’t that be utilized? I don’t expect him to go all Tanaka and throw 70 percent offspeed but why not throw 30% curveballs? Is it just that he can’t throw as many for strikes?
I think there’s more here than just a simple mailbag post. You’re right that Deivi’s curveball is disgusting. To wit:
That is a curveball that I’d like to see him throw as much as possible. And it’s something that typically flows with the Yankees’ anti-fastball philosophy. Or at least the one they’ve deployed in the last few years. It’s still a bit too early. to tell if Matt Blake is an adherent.
For right now, though, I’m not getting worked up about this. Jonathan sent this question during Deivi’s last start, during which he threw the curve under 4% of the time. That definitely seems alarmingly low, but context is key: this was the first time Deivi was seeing an MLB lineup for the second time. In fact, it was two consecutive starts against the Blue Jays. Mixing up his usage makes sense. He and the Yankees want to show that he’s a versatile pitcher who can make adjustments and anticipate the adjustments of his opponent.
I don’t think this was anything more than that. And, to be clear, the approach worked. He had success yet again this week, even when shelving his trusty curve for his new-ish slider and improved change. The kid is so damn impressive. I can’t wait to see his method of attack in his next start.
Andrew H. Asks: With Paxton all but gone for the season, can we declare that we lost this trade? Justus Sheffield only has league average numbers this year, but he’s still healthy, young, and under team control.
I wouldn’t go that far. The impulse makes sense – who doesn’t want to evaluate trades this way? – but it’s not apples-to-apples. The Yankees traded Sheffield for Paxton because they were in a win-now mode and Paxton was probably the best pitcher they could get for Sheffield at that time. To that point, Sheffield only threw 36 innings in 2019, while Paxton was a major contributor to a 2019 Yankees juggernaut. He even started Game 1 of the ALDS and a must-win Game 5 of the ALCS. Both of these were the right decisions, mind you.
The injuries are frustrating and I wish Paxton was around in 2020. I also wish that he was more consistent last year. Still, it’s important to maintain perspective. I don’t think the Yankees were ever high on Sheffield, and while his ERA- looks nice, his peripherals are just okay and I don’t think he’d be a big contributor on this Yankees team. They didn’t lose this trade.
Perhaps a better question is if the Yankees could have used Sheffield to get a better pitcher than Paxton. I personally don’t think so, either at the time or later, but I guess we’ll never know.
Mark Asks: Am I wrong to feel that Aaron Boone seems to be treating this as a 162-game season when it comes to resting players? I am writing this on Sept. 11, and in the 1st game of today’s DH he is “resting” Andujar and Hicks, after the team was rained out yesterday, no less. I would rather see them in the lineup than Gardner/Tauchman or Wade. Three weeks to go and wins are desperately needed, but I don’t see any sense of urgency on Boone’s part. What is he saving these guys for?
We got a bunch of questions to this effect this week. I understand the frustration. I really do. We all want to see the Yankees A-lineup and we almost never see it. We didn’t in 2019 and we haven’t in 2020. I’m just as annoyed by it as you are. I promise.
But we know what they’re saving these guys for: they’re saving them for the playoffs. I will grant you that the situation changed a lot since you wrote this a week ago. But the doubleheaders are weird. I just can’t bring myself to get worked up over it, especially against Baltimore. The Yankees are so much better than Baltimore even with the B lineup.
In general, though, the Yankees are just always going to prioritize load management until the games really count. Had the Yanks kept losing and were in danger of losing a playoff spot, we’d see that urgency you all want to see. The Yankees didn’t panic when the ship looked like it was on fire, though. They went with their time-tested model. They’ll keep that up moving forward. Judge and Stanton will get rest. So will Torres. Luke Voit probably will, too. The idea is to get those guys healthy and unleash the Murderer’s Row lineup next month. Now that’s something to look forward to.