A Look at the Opening Day Roster
Well Spring Training is essentially over, the final decisions have been made on who will be joining the big league club in the Bronx for opening day. Some players stepped up this spring to prove to Boone that they are needed on the team while others faltered and will have to spend opening day back in the Minors. Here is a glimpse at the faces we will see on March 28th when the Yankees open against Baltimore.
Nothing new has transpired behind the plate during spring training. Gary Sanchez will start from behind the dish, occasionally getting spelled for Austin Romine. Sanchez did not have a great spring, but has noticeably improved his defensive skills which is huge for the team. He joined camp late this year to allow him a little more recovery from his offseason surgery on his left shoulder, which may be behind his sub-par spring numbers. Romine has proven to be a solid back up when needed, allowing the team to keep pace when Sanchez is out.
Due to the Aaron Hicks injury, Boone has been afforded the opportunity to belay which first baseman he wants to carry full time. Originally, a decision was needed to be made between Greg Bird and Luke Voit – both had respectively spring performances. It would seem that Boone would have stuck with Bird, but now he gets to see how both will perform in the early part of the regular season before making his final decision.
Nothing unusual has transpired around the rest of the infield. Gleyber Torres will start at second, Miguel Andujar will man third, and Troy Tulowitzki will command from shortstop until Didi Gregorius comes back from his injury. DJ Lemahieu will play second when Torres slides over to SS or just needs a rest and he will also back up Andujar when needed.
The Hicks injury also obviously mixed things up a bit in the outfield. In response to the injury, the Yankees went out and got Mike Tauchman from the Rockies. Tauchman hasn’t played a full MLB season yet, but has performed well in the minors hitting .323 with 20 HR and 81 RBI. Unfortunately for Tyler Wade, the expected fourth OF who played very well this spring, this means he has to begin this season in the minors. Also heading to the minors after a disappointing spring is Clint Frazier. Many thought he would be fighting for the fourth OF spot, but after hitting a measly .143 in 50PA, there was no choice but to let him figure things out in AAA. So the outfield will look as such: Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Mike Tauchman.
It looks like Masahiro Tanaka will be the Opening Day starter on the mound after Luis Severino went out with an injury earlier this month. Severino will start the season on the DL and will most likely return sometime in May. The remaining starters will be James Paxton, JA Happ, Domingo German, and CC Sabathia. However, Sabathia is also injured and is only on the roster to serve his suspension rolling over from last year. After Sabathia’s suspension has been served, Jonathan Loaisiga will fill in as the fifth starter.
In the bullpen, the Yankees will carry Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Luis Cessa, and Stephen Tarpley. Green, Cessa, and Tarpley earned a spot on the big league roster due to their excellent performances in Florida, but once Dellin Betances comes back from the DL, one of these three will most likely be sent down to AAA so all need to continue to perform if they are to stay in the Bronx.
All in all, the roster is as expected with a few interesting adjustments due to injuries. There will be plenty of opportunity for young players to continue to prove themselves, so it will be an exciting early part of the season to watch to see who succeeds and who does not. Only time will tell.