Backing In

Thanks to Paul Goldschmidt, the Yankees are hosting the wild card game. They certainly don’t deserve to, getting swept in Baltimore this weekend after dropping three-of-four to Boston earlier this week. But none of that matters now. Now the Yankees have to figure out how to win the wild card game.

Just as the September expanded rosters are ridiculous, so are the rules for the wild card game. It is viewed as a singular event, which means you only need to set a 25-man roster for that one game. So, here are my ideas for a roster.

Catchers (3) McCann, Murphy, Romine- Since you don’t need 12 pitchers, get an extra catcher in there in case you want to pinch-run for McCann.

Infielders (7) Bird, Ackley, Refsnyder, Pirela, Ryan, Headley, Gregorius- Pirela is your 2nd pinch-runner.

Outfielders (6) Beltran, Ellsbury, Gardner, Young, Noel, Heathcott-Young is a defensive caddy. Noel is your 1st pinch-runner and Heathcott can come in and hit against a RHP, or pinch-run if needed.

DH (1) A-Rod- duh

Pitchers (8) Tanaka, Severino, Miller, Betances, Wilson, Warren, Sabathia, Pazos- You have Severino in case Tanaka blows up. Sabathia is there for that as well, but also to face a lefty in a key spot. (Nobody else I would trust with that role at this point. Miller-Betances-Wilson-Warren are my 6th-9th innings guys and Pazos has done the best of the multiple arms left in the pen.

This week has been a bummer, but the key thing is that the Yankees are returning to the playoffs again. That’s worth celebrating.

 

The Wrong Strategy

The Yankees had a three choices headed into today’s doubleheader.

  1. Play to win right off the bat. Put all your best players in Game 1 and your best starter (Severino) and hope you win the game. If you don’t regroup and go from there.
  2. Play to win the nightcap. Save your best players and starter for Game 2 and let the chips fall where the may in Game 1.
  3. Play it halfway in both games. Put some starters in the first, some in the second and spread out the bullpen.

Some will accuse me of Monday Morning QB’ing here, but my conviction is that Girardi chose the wrong strategy by not picking 1 or 2. Think about it this way. The Yankees had those choices to make, but they also knew that if they didn’t succeed today, they had a chance to succeed tomorrow. However, failure today meant you had to succeed tomorrow.

Under that scenario, why wouldn’t you pick a game today to go all-out for a win, while realizing you had tomorrow to fall back on? You could pick either game, the point is you picked one of them and used your best lineup, your best pitchers and went from there. If you lost, you had tomorrow to regroup and try again.

Keep in mind the other factor in all of this, the Yankees didn’t play Friday. They were rested coming into today and they could get two days of rest by winning a game today. Instead, they half-assed it on both ends and now they have to try to win a game tomorrow.

Playoff Bound-UPDATED

The Yankees are in the wild card game. Now the two questions are where will it be played and who will be their opponent?

The Yankees have full control over the first question. Win one of their three remaining games and the game is in Yankee Stadium. They might not even need to do that as one loss by Houston produces the same result. To that end, I disagree with Joe Girardi’s idea to put all his bench players in the game tonight (if there is a game tonight) I would rather win tonight, and take the rest of the weekend off than rest tonight and then possibly have to crank it up later this weekend.

The opponent may take a little while. Minnesota and Anaheim both trail Houston by one game. Of the three, Anaheim may have the easiest schedule as they are playing Texas who clinched the AL West last night and can’t change the fact that they will open the ALDS on the road. (Thanks to BL for pointing out that last night’s celebration was simply about clinching a playoff spot, the magic number is 1 for the division.) Houston is in Arizona, a team eliminated a long time ago, but with some dangerous young players. Minnesota hosts Kansas City, winners of the AL Central, but locked in a tie with Toronto for the best record in the AL. If all three teams end in a tie, a massive two-day tiebreaker would commence. That’s what you root for as a Yankees’ fan.

I’ll have more as the weekend develops. One cool thing baseball is doing on Sunday is starting all the games within a ten-minute window of each other. Everything launches around 3:05pm, so we could have some exciting and simultaneous finishes in the race for the final playoff spot.