MLB Playoffs 2022: Yankees announce Division Series roster

It was strange to see the Yankees lock up their division title near the end of the season and not play relevant baseball again for almost two weeks. The first-round bye is a new concept, and while I can’t say that I’m sorry that New York dodged the Wild Card round (goodness knows that they’ve dealt with it enough in the past decade), it will be interesting to see how the team regroups. For some players, the extra rest was beneficial in that it allowed them to get healthy again, so that’s a plus anyway.

The Yankees will have 26 players on their roster as they bid to take down the Cleveland Guardians in a rematch of the 2017 Division Series and 2020 Wild Card Series. Both teams still have members from that initial 2017 showdown, like José Ramírez and Aaron Judge, which featured a remarkable New York comeback from down 0-2 to win three in a row and advance. Although obviously we would love to see the Yankees make it to the ALCS by any means necessary, let us hope for our collective blood pressure that it does not involve the same drama.

There is no need for any further reminiscing though; the Yankees have released their ALDS roster (as have the Guardians). Here’s who will be active for manager Aaron Boone tonight in the Bronx for Game 1.

Catchers: Jose Trevino, Kyle Higashioka (2)
Infielders: Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson, Marwin Gonzalez (6)
Outfielders: Oswaldo Cabrera, Harrison Bader, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Tim Locastro (5)
Designated hitters: Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Carpenter (2)
Starting rotation: Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino (3)
Bullpen: Jonathan Loáísiga, Lou Trivino, Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, Lucas Luetge, Miguel Castro, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo Germán, Jameson Taillon (9)

There are no surprises with the starting batterymates, as Trevino and Higashioka have been the Yankees’ catchers all year long and the team had already announced that Cole, Cortes, and Severino would start the first three games. Higgy did actually end the season hitting better than Trevino, so I would wager there’s a good chance that he starts at least once.

Barring any injuries, the rest of the starting lineup should mostly remain the same throughout the series (although the batting order may change). Stanton will DH, and around the infield from first to third, it’ll be Rizzo, Torres, Kiner-Falefa, and Donaldson. From left to right in the outfield, it should be the rookie Cabrera, the elite defender Bader, and the MVP Judge.

Fresh off the 60-day IL, Carpenter will be ready and willing to step up in a big pinch-hit opportunity at any moment. He’ll be joined on the bench by fourth outfielder Hicks, pinch-running specialist Locastro, utilityman Gonzalez, and whichever catcher happens to be sitting that day.

The playoff bullpen this year is a little different than in years past, simply because there’s not really a closer. Holmes lost the regular gig and while he did work his way back from injury to make the team, he won’t be automatically handed the ninth. Each of Loáisiga, Trivino, and Peralta could see the ninth, and all could also see key “fireman” opportunities to save a lead or tie earlier in the ballgame. Luetge, Castro, and Schmidt will probably be more middle-relief options, and both Germán and Taillon are likely long relievers (although Boone has hinted at using Taillon in a closing scenario too).

The relief corps will have to do without Scott Effross though, who came over from the Cubs at the deadline and looked good in 13 games. Unfortunately, that also included missing a month with a shoulder strain, and the injury pattern has worsened. Per Jack Curry of YES Network, he hurt his elbow and will need Tommy John surgery, which will almost certainly keep him out until 2024 — a devastating blow.

Effross was replaced on the roster by Castro, who just came back from his own long-term injury and made it into two games before the end of the season. But as Curry notes, the loss of Effross (and Ron Marinaccio, who is out until at least the ALCS) will be a serious challenge for the bullpen to overcome. They will have to use the scheduled off days of rest between the first three games to their advantage.

The most notable position-player absence is probably DJ LeMahieu, who tried to come back from the foot/toe injury that sapped his power over the past couple of months and put him on the injured shelf. He played during the Yankees’ final week of the season and worked out with the team, but they did not feel comfortable enough with how his swing looked to roster him. Joel Sherman reported that the diagnosis on LeMahieu seems to be a broken foot, which should take him out of consideration for the rest of 2022 (despite DJ’s protests).

One can fairly nitpick whether Gonzalez was the most sensible replacement for LeMahieu on the roster given everything that September standout Oswald Peraza can bring to the table. However, the best guess is that the Yankees wanted an actual first baseman around to back up Rizzo in case of emergency beyond Cabrera (who has played there in just 13 innings).

As reported on Sunday, veteran Aroldis Chapman put himself out of consideration for a bullpen spot by skipping a Friday workout and returning home to Miami. Maybe with the Effross injury, he would’ve made it, but too bad. I’m not sorry. Greg Weissert and Albert Abreu will lie in wait as possible relief options if an injury occurs.

What do you think of this roster?

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