The Tuesday Discussion – The Line-Up Going Forward…
With the ALCS tied at one game each, what changes, if any, would you make to the Yankees lineup as they return home for the middle three games of the ALCS?
Lincoln Mitchell – This is an important question at this point in the series. However, because the Yankees are carrying 13 pitchers, they have only three players on the bench and very few options. If Mike Ford were on the roster, getting his bat in the lineup against a Gerrit Cole, given how Edwin Encarnacion has been struggling, would be, at the very least, an idea worth exploring. However, because the Yankees somehow think they need 13 pitchers, this option is not available to them. Other than that, the only change I would make would be to get Giancarlo Stanton back in the lineup if he is healthy.
Derek McAdam – Going into Yankee Stadium, I believe the Yankees should make several adjustments to the lineup. First, Edwin Encarnacion needs to be dropped back into the fifth or sixth hole. He has not looked like his regular self in the cleanup position, and hopefully a shift down will change his approach to hitting. If his contact does not improve the Yanks might have to explore other options, which might include dropping him in favor of putting Giancarlo Stanton in the DH role. I also believe that the Yankees would benefit more with Gary Sanchez being dropped in the order. Sanchez has proven that he can be a reliable catcher behind the plate, which is why the Yanks will not even consider swapping him out for Austin Romine. Even though his offensive struggles in the postseason continue, he has the potential to drive the ball out with one swing of the bat. A possible drop back to the seven or eight hole might do him some good.
Paul Semendinger – I would like to take Edwin Encarnacion out of the number four slot. Obviously, if Giancarlo Stanton is healthy for Game Three, I’d bat him clean-up. If he’s not healthy, the task of finding a #4 hitter becomes more of a challenge. I think the cleanup spot is way too high for Gio Urshela, Cameron Maybin, and Didi Gregorius. The next concern is that Gary Sanchez is in as much of a funk as Encarnacion. Because of all this, the Yankees are in a tough spot. It would probably make sense to sit Encarnacion or move him lower in the order, but, I don’t see how to do this with the way the roster is constructed. To really shake things up, batting Brett Gardner first and moving everyone else down one slot would be interesting. That would allow for a Gardner, LeMahieu, Torres, Judge top four batters in the line-up – a very traditional approach with the big bat, Judge, hitting fourth. Encarnacion would then hit fifth.
But, in the end, while it’s fun to play these games, I would just keep the line-up as it is. Making a host of changes would seem like a panic move. The Yankees scored seven runs on Saturday – let’s hope they can do it again!
Patrick Gunn – In terms of the starting lineup, I think the one they have constructed so far is pretty solid. I like the decision to move Gleyber Torres up since he is on fire this postseason (leaving Game Two aside) and deserves more at-bats. LeMahieu and Judge at the top are no-brainers, as is Encarnacion in the middle. Sanchez has struggled offensively, but deserves to play given his power and improved defense, and Urshela and Gregorius at the bottom of the order is just nasty. The one option I’d consider is either moving Gardner down in the order or replacing him with Hicks or Maybin. Yes, Gardner hit more home runs this season, but he has struggled in October and keeping him in the fifth or sixth spot of the lineup when other players are performing better seems out of place. I’d consider placing him down in the ninth spot behind Gregorius and Urshela. Aside from that, I think the Yankees have constructed a very solid lineup. Yes, they struggled in Game Two, but so would any lineup against Verlander on his game. The Yankees have one of the best lineups in baseball, and the order that Boone has handed to the umpires this postseason has been a solid example of that.
Mike Whiteman – If Giancarlo Stanton is healthy enough to be on the roster, I’d consider having him at DH. Hicks can play center field with Gardner moving to left. Stanton seems much more locked in at the plate than Edwin Encarnacion.
Should Hicks prove to be too rusty at the plate to contribute, he could be pinch hit for in the later innings by either Encarnacion or Maybin, with Maybin moving to left field and Gardner shifting back to center.