Monday, March 28, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees’ roster battles become clearer

The long slog toward Opening Day is almost over for the New York Yankees and as such the roster is rounding into form. The Yankees still have final decisions to make, but the participants in competitions are dwindling.


Backup Catcher

Gary Sanchez lost his chance to break camp last week after showing signs of needing more work, and the fact that his service time clock was an issue, the move makes absolute sense. Austin Romine and Carlos Corporan remain in camp, with the former likely the favorite to back up Brian McCann to start the season.

Utility Infielder

Rob Refsnyder was giving every opportunity to show he could handle third base, and then took two bad-hop bouncers to the face across two straight games. He needs more work there and the Yankees are going to give it to him at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Refsnyder might be disappointed, but he should be happy the Yanks see enough in him to want to continue the experiment. Plain and simple, he cannot and would not get regular reps at third base in New York while he can at Triple-A.

Ronald Torreyes and Pete Kozma are the players left at Yankees camp. I would rather see Torreyes given the job of the two simply because he might have a little more bat in him than Kozma. Both players are able to play second, short and third base which is exactly what the club needs. There is of course a chance that the Yankees make a late spring move to bring in a player who they feel is comfortable playing those positions.

Fifth Starter

CC Sabathia pitched exactly how the Yankees will need him to during the season in his last appearance – 5 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 HR, 4 K, 1 BB. Meanwhile, Ivan Nova was awful in his last start – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 3 HR 5 K, 3 BB. I have felt from the beginning that CC would claim the fifth starter if all others were healthy and I remain confident that is how this will end with the same health caveat.

Bullpen Roles

Here is how I see the bullpen shaping up once the Yankees head north:

Closer: Andrew Miller (Aroldis Chapman will begin a 30-game suspension)
Setup: Dellin Betances
Setup: Chasen Shreve
Middle Relief: Bryan Mitchell
Middle Relief: Branden Pinder
Middle Relief: Kirby Yates
Long man: Nova

If the Yankees send Mitchell to Scranton to stretch out, then Johnny Barbato is likely to grab a spot. If not Barbato might be the first reliever called up when the SWB/NY shuttle service begins.

With one week to go, manager Joe Girardi has plenty of choices to make.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.