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  • James Vlietstra

Home Stretch

by James Vlietstra

September 1, 2022

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I am writing this piece under the assumption many of us have had since June - that the playoffs were a foregone conclusion for the Yankees and the most important part was to make sure that they made it there healthy. If somehow they fail to make it, they have suffered one of the greatest collapses ever. Rip up this article, archive it as “dummy”, and completely overhaul the entire front office and coaching staff and get a clean slate. Obviously, I don’t believe that is going to happen, so I will let a pessimist on another platform to write that one.

The name of the game for the Yankees is get ready for the playoffs. Get healthy. Get rested. They have six off days between now and the end of the year. Additionally, as the playoffs get closer, expect some of your favorite players to sit a little more often. Maybe they skip some starts to set up the rotation the way they want.

There’s under six weeks of games left. Their divisional lead is 6 games. They are 5 games behind the Houston Astros for homefield advantage throughout the American League playoffs. 18 of the remaining games are against divisional rivals. A total of 18 games are against teams with.500 or better records.

Some people call them phantom injuries. Perhaps they are just being overly cautious. Regardless, the Yankees recently added three players to the Injured List. Aroldis Chapman was ineffective and staring down a DFA in his contract year. Albert Abreu was on the verge of his third DFA of the season, but instead he can now come to spring training with a clean slate. Nestor Cortes was approaching an innings limit and needed his workload managed. Of the three, I only expect Cortes to be a factor in the final month.

Ron Marinaccio, Giancarlo Stanton, and Jonathan Loaisiga have all recently returned from the IL. Clay Holmes is also back. Other players that may be returning down the stretch run include Luis Severino, Scott Effross, Stephen Ridings, Miguel Castro, Zack Britton, Matt Carpenter, Harrison Bader, and Nestor Cortes.


This next six weeks will prove pivotal to to how the Yankees enter October and the playoffs.

So long as they can hold onto their substantial lead, and they return to health, they will once again be among the favorites to win the World Series. Three short series are definitely a difficult task, but their pitching has been their strong suit all season and it will carry them as far as they go. Gerrit Cole needs to step up and be the ace he’s being paid to be.


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Here are a few other things to keep your eye on:

Aaron Judge is chasing team history for most home runs in a season. Here are the most prolific ones:


1961 Roger Maris 61

1927 Babe Ruth 60

1921 Babe Ruth 59

1961 Mickey Mantle 54

2007 Alex Rodriguez 54

1928 Babe Ruth 54

1920 Babe Ruth 54

2017 Aaron Judge 52

1956 Mickey Mantle 52

2022 Aaron Judge 51


The MVP race will be interesting. Will it be like it was in 2017 when Jose Altuve managed to steal it from Judge. This year Judge leads the Majors in home runs, runs, RBIs, Total Bases, SLG, OPS, OPS+, is flirting with a .300 BA and is likely to have a WAR exceeding 10. Does he actually win it this year or does Shohei Ohtani steal it?

Rumor has it General Manager Brian Cashman is close to signing a five year extension. This would extend his tenure to almost 30 years. Obviously the biggest offseason question will be does he offer Judge a 8+ year contract for north of $350M?

Regardless of the outcome of his contract negotiations, there is inevitably going to be a lot of turnover on the Yankees roster. The following players are all free agents after this season

(along with their 2022 salary):


Judge $19M

Rizzo $16M (opt out)

Chapman $16M

Britton $14M

Severino $11.5M

Benintendi $8.5M

Taillon $8.5M

Green $4M

Castro $2.6M

That’s $100M coming off the books.

In addition to those, I can see the Yankees being very active trying to move the contracts of Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson. Some other players I don’t think will be here in 2023 include Estevan Florial, Miguel Andujar, Isiah Kiner Falefa, Gleyber Torres, and Kyle Higashioka. All told, that’s about 35% of the 40 man roster being turned over.

Brian Cashman came into the trade deadline season with an impending number crunch for the 40 man roster. He managed to upgrade several positions by trading away Rule 5 Eligible and 40 man minor leaguers. As listed by MLB Pipeline, 11 of their top 30 prospects were not in the organization 15 months ago. However, their top five prospects have all excelled at their various levels and are approaching Major League readiness.

The FCL Yankees won their league championship over the weekend. Several of the full season affiliates are fighting for their playoff lives. Their seasons will start wrapping up in a couple of weeks.

Here is a list of some of the players I see as possible candidates for the Arizona Fall League rosters:


Josh Breaux

Yoendrys Gomez

Ryder Green

Justin Lange

Brandon Lockridge

Nolan Martinez

Matt Minnick

Osiel Rodriguez

Ronny Rojas

Anthony Seigler

Montana Semmel

Alexander Vargas

Randy Vasquez

Justin Wilson

Many of them have been injured or are Rule 5 eligible and need to get some playing time and possibly showcase themselves.

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