Up until a few years ago, teams weren’t allowed to change their rosters between playoff rounds. I don’t remember when exactly they started letting teams do this, but it was 2005 or 2006, somewhere around there. Anyway, now teams can optimize their roster to best match up with their next opponent, which in theory makes for more entertaining playoff games. Does it work? Eh, I dunno.
For the most part, the Yankees roster will remain unchanged. In fact, the only spots that we really need to discuss are the second lefty reliever and maybe the third catcher. As you probably already know, I’m not a fan of letting Jose Molina catch AJ Burnett, but it seems as though the Yankees are, and that’s all that counts. Because of that, it makes sense to carry a third catcher so they can pinch run for Jorge Posada in the late innings of a close game after he already pinch hit for Molina, basically what happened in Game Two of the ALDS.
That leaves just the second LOOGY spot up for grabs, or perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to it as the 11th spot in the bullpen. Unlike the Twins, who had two .900+ OPS lefty hitters in the middle of their lineup, the Angels only have one lefty swinger of note in their starting nine: ex-Yank Bobby Abreu. However, they could pencil as many as five switch hitters into their lineup on any given day, which could/will present some matchup issues. Let’s take a look at the platoon splits of those five switch hitters…
|vs. RHP||vs. LHP|
|Gary Matthews Jr.||.261-.341-.352||.221-.323-.384|
Of those five, Figgins has the hardest time with southpaws, and it’s not even close. He basically turns into Yuniesky Betancourt whenever there’s a lefty on the mound, which bodes well for when CC Sabathia or Andy Pettitte start the game. Kendry Morales, who completely annihilated the Yankees this year, drops about 150 OPS points against lefties, but is still a force at the dish. Do you want your second lefty facing him in a big spot, or one of your top righties? Obviously the latter, and you’re not going to carry a second lefty just for lil old Chone.
Based on that, the Yanks would be better off swapping out the 11th man on their staff, currently a second lefty, in favor of another righty. In this case, the second lefty would be Damaso Marte, because no matter how much we want him to be the primary lefty, the Yankees just aren’t going to have it, at least not this year. Who takes his spot? Well the obvious candidate is Brian Bruney, yet another power arm to deploy against the team that struggles against quality fastballs. As long as Joe Girardi understands that Bruney is at the bottom of the short relief pecking order, it’s cool with me. Seriously, there’s no reason for him to enter a game before David Robertson, Al Aceves, Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes unless the Yanks are winning big or losing big.
So, 500+ words later, I think the Yankees should drop Marte off their ALCS roster and replace him with the equally unpredictable Bruney, who is a slightly better matchup because of the arm he throws with and how hard he throws. The ALCS roster isn’t the most efficient because they’re carrying a third catcher, something you don’t often see teams do in the postseason. However, if the Yanks take care of business, it shouldn’t even come into play.