ALDS Game Five has many implications for the Yankees for the 2018 season and beyond
Entering 2017, the Yankees were thought of by many to be in rebuilding mode. Still, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman insisted that the team would rebuild and compete simultaneously. The team did just that, going 91-71, taking the first Wild Card spot winning the one-game playoff over a clearly inferior Minnesota Twins team. The reward for winning that game was a five game series with the mighty Cleveland Indians. The Yankees have held their own against a team many have claimed is the team to beat in the 2017 playoffs. Deadlocked at two games apiece, the Yankees have a decisive game five in Cleveland against likely 2017 Cy Young Corey Kluber. While the odds may not be in their favor to advance, the Yankees have had plenty of chances, most notably the game two blowup that would have the Bombers in the ALCS already. If the Yankees are to fall tonight, there will be plenty of questions to address this offseason.
Will Joe Girardi be back in 2018?
This one is the most obvious. Yankee manager Joe Girardi royally screwed up in game two, which contributed heavily to the collapse of an 8-3 lead that the Yankees held in the bottom of the sixth inning. On a controversial hit-by-pitch that clearly hit the knob of Lonnie Chisenhall’s bat, Girardi elected to not challenge. The ensuing batter, Francisco Lindor, smacked a grand slam and just like that, it was an 8-7 game. The Indians would go on to win in the bottom of the 13th after Girardi left Dellin Betances in for a third inning of work. Girardi’s postgame was full of excuses for not challenging the call from not having enough replay evidence to not wanting to break Chad Green’s rhythm on the mound. Granted, if Green makes a good pitch to Lindor, he probably does not hit a grand slam, but the harsh reality of baseball is that hindsight is 20/20.
Girardi eventually owned up to his mistakes, and he even got choked up following the game four win, because he knew his team could have advanced that night. Girardi’s desire to win has never been in question, and it’s pretty clear he cares about each and every one of his players. But at the end of the day, he’s made quite a few mistakes in his tenure in New York. With his contract expiring, if the Yankees fail to make the ALCS, Girardi’s future in the Bronx is certainly in question.
Will CC Sabathia be back in 2018?
The 37-year-old lefty CC Sabathia pitched incredibly well in 27 starts in his 17th major league season going 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and .246 BAA in 148.2 innings pitched. He’s pitched so well, in fact, that he is tasked with starting game five over the Yankees premiere deadline acquisition Sonny Gray. So while it looks like Sabathia may be on his way back to the Bronx for next season, that is very much up in the air, but he can cement a one-year deal with a strong showing tonight.
Sabathia has, for the most part, been the standard of consistency in pinstripes. However, the Yankees will once again have a plethora of starters vying for a rotation spot. Granted Jaime Garcia likely will not be back, Michael Pineda is a free agent (and probably will not pitch in 2018 due to Tommy John) and it is still in question as to whether Masahiro Tanaka will opt out or not. But assuming Tanaka returns, it will be him, Gray, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and potentially either Chad Green (though I think he has found a home in the bullpen) and Chance Adams seeking rotation spots. If Sabathia agrees to take a significant pay cut on a one-year deal, he likely will be back, but a lot of that can change depending on how game five goes for the New York Yankees.
Will Matt Holliday or Todd Frazier be back in 2018?
In this scenario, let me make it very clear that it will be either just Matt Holliday returning, just Todd Frazier returning, or neither of them returning. Both of these two veterans have been instrumental in shaping the clubhouse and mentoring this young team throughout the course of the season. In fact, Holliday was credited for helping shape Aaron Judge into the superstar he has become, and Frazier started the thumbs down movement that the Yankees have rode into the postseason.
Still, Holliday, 37, hit just .237/.303/.441 (.744 OPS) with three homers, 13 RBIs, and three doubles in 15 games since returning from the DL on Sept. 2, and he has yet to record a plate appearance in the postseason. With that, all indications are pointing toward him being out after this season.
As for Frazier, the 31-year-old hit .222/.365/.423 (.788 OPS) in 66 games in pinstripes, with 11 homers, four doubles, and 32 RBIs. However, he has seen starts at third base over Chase Headley this postseason, and it is likely that he could be back on a one-year deal in 2018 if there is a fit. The Yankees will, barring a trade, return Headley for the final year of his contract, and there are also youngsters Miguel Andujar, Tyler Wade, and phenom top MLB prospect Gleyber Torres, all of whom will likely see plenty of time in pinstripes next season.
How will the Yankees handle the Dellin Betances situation this offseason?
There is no denying that Dellin Betances has endured his fair share of struggles across the 2017 season, and it could even be said that he has been the Yankees most inconsistent reliever. In fact, it can be said that after his last outing in game four that saw him walk two batters on 12 pitches, throwing multiple balls to the backstop, that he is one of the least trusted arms in the Yankee playoff pen that includes Jaime Garcia and Jordan Montgomery.
Betances walked 6.6 batters per nine innings this season, way higher than last year where that number was just 3.5. He was able to rely on his stuff which held batters to a career-best .141 BAA, and he still managed to strike out 15.1 batters per nine, but his control problems have been perplexing and concerning at the same time. The Yankees could look to deal Betances this offseason while he still has value before his literally spirals out of control.
How far will the Yankees youth movement go as we shift to the 2018 season?
I’ve already alluded to a number of the young players in the Yankees organization that will look to make an impact in 2018, but there is still a question as to how far Cashman (assuming his contract is renewed) takes this youth movement. The Yankees have established a core of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino, while they also heavily relied on contributions from Jordan Montgomery, Chad Green, and lately, Greg Bird.
The team will return position players Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade. Gleyber Torres will also be ready for 2018, and he could compete for a 25-man roster spot out of spring training, though a lot would have to go right for the club to not start him in Triple-A. As for the pitching, Severino, Montgomery, and Chance Adams could eventually become a very strong trio in the Yankee rotation if Adams is ever given the call. Justus Sheffield and Domingo Acevedo are also inching closer to the big leagues, so the team will have to find a balance between veterans and the exciting youth that they have developed on the farm, that maintains its status as a top-10 or higher farm system.
The Yankees, for the most part, have had a very successful 2017 season. Typically, I am a proponent of a “World Series or bust” mindset, but given the fact that this team defied the odds by making the postseason with such a young roster, I will for the most part consider this season a productive one. With that, the Yankees will look to continue progressing. It’s been forecasted that the Yankees are playing for 2019 and beyond, with that incredible post-2018 season free agent class. The decisions that the team makes this offseason, and in the next few seasons will be vital to how successful this team is over the next decade, and a lot of that hinges on how this 2017 postseason plays out.
Article by: Chad RainesFollow @chad_rain