Pagnato: Taking an Early Look at the 2019 Postseason

    It is the end of August folks, that means postseason baseball is just around the corner!

    The Yankees squared off in Los Angeles this past Friday-Sunday, and claimed an important series victory from the Dodgers during Players Weekend of 2019. The much needed rebound puts the organization in a good place following an ugly four-game sweep at the heels of the Oakland Athletics.

    As of now, New York sits atop the American League East division with a somewhat comfortable 9-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays with a record of 85-47.

    The Houston Astros are currently tied with the Yankees for home field in throughout the AL playoffs, as they have the same exact record.

    Taking it one step further, despite taking the weekend series, the Los Angeles Dodgers would also hold home field advantage over New York in the World Series if the pair met in the Fall Classic if the season ended today.

    New York edges everyone else in baseball with their .644 winning percentage.

    The injured list currently consists of impact players such as Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Jonathan Holder, Edwin Encarnacion, Luke Voit, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks. Should each player be able to get healthy, everyone of the aforementioned names would unquestionably have a spot on the 25-man postseason roster.

    The expectation is that the majority of those players will come back before season’s end. Hicks is the most questionable to return in my opinion, but for arguments sake, I am going to include him in the Yankees current postseason plans and will adjust accordingly as the picture becomes clearer.

    Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German, and James Paxton are the four starters who I would elect to carry in the Division Series. German has been the lone bright spot in an otherwise struggling Yankees rotation. Past performance has proven that playoff Tanaka (1.50 ERA) is better than regular season Tanaka (3.76 ERA). The Japanese native has always seemed to rise to the occasion and performed extremely well when it matters the most. If healthy, Sevy is hands down the best pitcher on the staff. I know he hasn’t thrown a pitch in a game yet, however, if he can go, I would put my money on that a fresh Severino would outperform both CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ.

    Betances, Holder, Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, David Hale, and the newly acquired Cory Gearrin would be the remaining pitchers that would be selected to the roster. Betances would slot in as the 8th inning set up man, pushing either Britton, Ottavino, or Kahnle to 7th inning duties. Hale would be the emergency long-reliever and have the honorary mop-up duty.

    With 13 spots left, I would have Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine as my catchers without any hesitation.

    They would be joined by infielders Didi Gregorius, DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres, Encarnacion, and Voit. The toughest call would be who would start at first base. I would personally go with Encarnacion over Voit. As good as Urshela has been, LeMahieu has been the Yankees MVP and earned the starting third basemen spot.

    Hicks, Stanton, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, and Mike Tauchman would round out the roster at this point in the season. It is a tough decision but Tauchman has the edge over Maybin if the season ended today due to his competitive at bats and elite defense.

    If the season ended today, here is who the starting lineup would be for Game 1:

    1. DJ LeMahieu, 3B
    2. Aaron Judge, RF
    3. Gary Sanchez, C
    4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
    5. Didi Gregroius, SS
    6. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
    7. Gleyber Torres, 2B
    8. Aaron Hicks, CF
    9. Mike Tauchman, LF

    SP – Luis Severino

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