Ultimate AL Wild-Card Preview: Houston Astros @ New York Yankees

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Thoughts on the Yankees’ Roster

Oct 4, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) walks on the field during the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

What can we conclude about the Yankees roster? Here’re a few points:

1. Joe Girardi has major lineup decisions to make. Rodriguez, McCann, and Headley are the only guys I put in the above lineup at 95% or higher confidence. Young probably has to play, but it will mean sitting Gardner or Ellsbury (I think they sit Ellsbury and play Gardner, who historically and in 2015 has handled lefties well). Beltran has had a rough year vs. lefties, but carries a hard-earned reputation for post-season brilliance, and should play. The rookie, Refsynder, is a downgrade defensively at second base, but could easily play over Ryan or Gregarious for the offense against a left-hander.

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2. Chris Young, man. The Houston native owns his hometown team, but he’s just as good against any pitcher throwing with his left arm. He is well into the platoon bat portion of his career, but he might be the best platoon guy in baseball. Keuchel will pitch him carefully, and Young will leave for a pinch-hitter — Ackley or the non-starter between Ellsbury and Gardner, most likely — once the Astros go to the bullpen.

3. If Miller is allowed to face a lefty, Hinch is fired. Deal? Deal. (In fairness to A.J., he sees the same numbers, and I fully expect that some combination of Villar, Lowrie, Gonzalez and Marisnick will be utilized off the bench against Miller.)

4. Tanaka’s (slightly) reverse split. There isn’t enough data to show a definite trend, but Tanaka is a strike-thrower who has very similar numbers against righties and lefties, with a career .672 OPS against from RHB vs. .660 from LHB. The reverse split has been a bit more pronounced this year as he pitches through a small tear in his UCL. For a right-heavy Houston lineup, it’s a mildly encouraging sign.

Next: What to watch for with the Astros