Does Matt Holliday have a role on the ALCS roster?
After Wednesday night’s exhilarating ALDS Game 5 victory over the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees are heading to the ALCS. The series against the Indians gave us many reasons to be hopeful about this current run but there are still some concerns that need to be addressed and some questions that need to be answered. One of the key points that need addressing heading into this series is the Designated Hitter position and how the Yankees can improve their productivity from it.
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The Yankees have gotten no production at all from the DH position so far this postseason. In the ALDS, the DH position went a combined 0-16 with eight strikeouts. This jumps up to 0-20 if you include the Wild Card game. The DH role has been filled by Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley so far these playoffs and although both players had strong finishes to their seasons, this combination has not been working so far and the Yankees need to find a better option. The Houston Astros are a very good baseball team and the Yankees will need to find whatever advantage they can to beat them. Enter Matt Holliday.
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As an aging veteran with an extensive injury history, the Yankees were not sure what they would be getting with Holliday after signing him last winter. Despite the uncertainty Holliday got off to a good start and in addition to his production on the field, he was praised as a leader and a mentor for the young Yankees off the field. In the first half of the season Holliday batted a strong .262 with 15 homers and 47 RBI in 68 games primarily as the DH.
The wheels came off in the second half though when Holliday first went on the DL in July and missed three weeks with a mysterious viral infection. He struggled when he returned before going back on the DL in August with a lower back strain. By the time Holliday was activated on September 1st, the addition of Todd Frazier, the return of Greg Bird plus the strong play of Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury made regular at bats hard to come by. In total for the second half, Holliday batted .179 with 4 homers and 17 RBI while slugging just .300 in 37 games played.
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Despite the struggles, Holliday made the postseason roster over some younger options such as Clint Frazier or an extra bullpen arm like Chasen Shreve. Holliday has extensive postseason experience and with the struggles of Headley and Ellsbury, it is time that the Yankees use it. Holliday batted .267 against lefties this year and just .220 against righties. The Astros rotation consists of left hander Dallas Keuchel and a number of hard throwing righties including Justin Verlander. With Keuchel starting Game 1 on Friday night, the Yankees will have a chance to get a look at Holliday early in the series in a situation that is more fair to him. The last game he played in was on October 1st and although he has been sitting for the last 11 days, the Yankees best shot to get him in the lineup is against Keuchel who is good but doesn’t blow people away with his stuff.
Holliday is a veteran and professional hitter and although he has had a long layoff it is either time for the Yankees to start using him or find another use for his roster spot. He doesn’t have to be on the roster to remain a leader and mentor for the youngsters and if they aren’t going to put him in the lineup now given the struggles they’ve gotten from their DH position then it’s just not going to happen. If they opt not to use Holliday going forward then I would like to see someone like Clint Frazier or even a Tyler Wade. Both have speed and would be useful as a pinch runner in late game situations. Still, it would seem like a waste of Holliday’s experience to not use him at all at this point in the season. Only time will tell though. My hope is that Holliday is in the lineup to face Dallas Keuchel on Friday night. If he shows anything at all that against Keuchel they should stick with him. What do you all think the team should do with Holliday and his roster spot?
Article by Matt GrazianoFollow @mattgraz930