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Weekly Mailbag: Tyler Lyons, Sabathia’s Shoulder, Happ’s ALDS Role, and Mike Ford!


The time has finally come – the playoffs. I am beyond excited. As much fun as it’s been watching the Yankees meet the expectations we had for them last winter while dealing with an unprecedented number of injuries has been almost as fun as watching the 2017 group make an October run. Unlike 2017 though, we expected the 2019 Yankees to be here in October. It hasn’t made the ride any less fun, but we’ve finally reached the point of the year where small sample sizes mean everything, and there’s not much we can do in the way of analytics to say anything predictive right now. For that reason, this week’s mailbag will be a bit more from my gut than usual.

In this week’s mailbag, we’ll talk about my prediction that Tyler Lyons would make the ALDS roster, CC Sabathia’s balky shoulder, JA Happ’s role, and Mike Ford.

Brian asks: Tyler Lyons?!? The guy was DFA’d – why does he make the ALDS roster?

I’m pretty sure that Brian is referencing my prediction that Tyler Lyons would make the ALDS roster. I know that CC’s injury complicates matters somewhat, but I issued that prediction even prior to CC’s injury. Tyler Lyons has a track record of success, and his peripherals look good out of the bullpen. The only alternatives I saw to Lyons were Cessa, Montgomery, and Heller.

Montgomery did not look to be playoff ready, so I already crossed him off of my list.

I’ve wanted Cessa to thrive, and I really believe in his capability in short stints. Despite some positive results this year, his body of work does not give me confidence in Cessa in anything other than mop-up duty.

Heller is someone who I believe has a high ceiling, but he also had a difficult recovery from Tommy John Surgery, so I have a hard time believing that the Yankees see him as a viable option.

Lyons was terrible early in the season with the Pirates, but he looked like a viable big league option in September with the Yankees. With the Yankees, Lyons struck out 12 batters in just 8.2 innings, while allowing just 7 hits and 2 walks. Realistically, he only allowed runs in 3/11 appearances. Small sample size certainly applies, but Lyons did a good job of controlling the aspects of the game a pitcher can control. That, combined with his track record, make him viable. The Yankees would not have added him to the tight 40-man roster unless they thought he had a chance of helping them, and I trust their judgement. I’m not sure that I am completely comfortable with him, but I believe that the Yankees like him. That’s enough for me to include him on the roster.

Bill asks: Short questions – how do you feel about CC’s shoulder injury, and what are the implications?

Bill’s question came in just after the news about CC’s shoulder broke. If I’m being completely honest, I’m heartbroken by this turn of events. CC has clearly been fighting father time tooth and nail all season long, and now his shoulder, the one body part that has never seemed to fail him, is barking. I know that many people disagree with me, but I think that CC is a Hall-of-Famer and he has always done everything in his power to suit up for the Yankees to help the team win a World Series.

The fact that CC himself said that he couldn’t make the team better right now tells me that CC’s shoulder is worse than initially thought. I really feel for the guy.

In the near-term, I think that CC’s absence may lead to Stephen Tarpley getting a roster spot. CC would likely have been used against tough lefties, and now Tarpley may get that shot.

Aaron asks: What will Happ’s role be on the pitching staff, assuming he makes the roster?

Happ has already been ruled out by Boone as a starter in games 1-3 of the ALDS. Happ will be in the bullpen, and he’ll be an option to start in game 4.

Happ came on at the end of the season, and I think that he’s re-earned some trust from Boone. Do not be surprised to see him throw 2-3 innings following one of the first 3 starters in the series. I also think that Happ could be the guy that soaks up innings in the event of a blowout.

Time will tell, but I think we’ll see Happ this postseason, for better or worse.

Jeff asks: I think Mike Ford deserves a spot on this roster – will he make an impact in the playoffs?

Just a couple of days ago, I opined that Ford would lose out on a roster spot to Voit. The more I think about it, and given the injury to CC, the more I’m talking myself into Ford on the roster, regardless of whether Voit is there or not.

I have always believed in Mike Ford, going back to an article I wrote back in 2017. Ford is patient, disciplined, has shown pop, and is a left-handed hitter facing a plethora of right-handed Twins’ pitching.

I have no idea whether Ford will make an impact this year in the playoffs, but I can say for certain that his play this year has earned him a spot, and I think that he would be more than capable of making some October memories if given the chance.


That’s all for this week. First game is Friday night…I won’t be able to watch, since I will be on a plane home from a work-related trip. Know now that I’m jealous of all of you who will be able to watch, regardless of the outcome. Enjoy, and let’s go Yanks!!!


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