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What comes next? Yankees postseason FAQ

@BryanHoch
September 27, 2020

Now that the Yankees have punched their ticket for the postseason, their 22nd trip to the playoffs in the last 26 years, they are focused on charging all the way through the finish line. “It's been a roller coaster,” said Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu, who completed the regular season with

Now that the Yankees have punched their ticket for the postseason, their 22nd trip to the playoffs in the last 26 years, they are focused on charging all the way through the finish line.

“It's been a roller coaster,” said Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu, who completed the regular season with a Major League-best .364 batting average. “I know we're going to be ready on Tuesday. I love our team in that clubhouse, so I'm just excited to get out there with them in the playoffs. I think it's going to be a really fun month.”

The Yankees enjoyed a torrid 16-6 start, then fell into a 5-15 summer swoon, kissing the .500 mark with a loss on Sept. 8 to the Blue Jays. A 10-game winning streak featured a blend of historic home run production and stellar starting pitching, both of which they’ll need to recapture to hoist the World Series trophy by the end of October.

While right-hander Gerrit Cole made good on his promise to lead the pitching staff, he acknowledged that “I definitely didn't imagine anything quite like” what 2020 presented.

“Outside of the things that we couldn’t control, like the virus and the shortened season, I tried to get a little bit better every time I took the ball,” Cole said. “I gave our team a chance to win more often than not. I’ve settled in well with the guys and with the team.”

What could the postseason roster look like?
Here’s a guess at the roster that the Yankees could assemble for their first-round Wild Card Series, in which they would only need three starting pitchers:

SP: Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Deivi García

RP: Aroldis Chapman (CL), Zack Britton, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nick Nelson, Adam Ottavino, Clarke Schmidt

C: Gary Sánchez, Kyle Higashioka

1B: Luke Voit, Mike Ford

2B: DJ LeMahieu

3B: Gio Urshela, Miguel Andújar

SS: Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade

LF: Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner

CF: Aaron Hicks

RF: Aaron Judge, Mike Tauchman

DH: Giancarlo Stanton

Who will the Yankees play?
The matchup didn't become official until Sunday, but the American League No. 5 seed Yankees will travel to Cleveland to face the No. 4 seed Indians in the Wild Card Series beginning Tuesday. The Yanks last faced the Tribe in the postseason in 2017, winning an exciting AL Division Series three games to two.

How will the Yankees set the rotation?
Cole and Tanaka will start the first two games. Happ is likely to start the third game, having pitched excellent down the stretch in September. Rookie Deivi García has shown flashes of brilliance, wielding the best curveball in the Yanks’ system. Jordan Montgomery is expected to rejoin the rotation if the Yankees advance to the ALDS.

What are the Yankees’ health concerns?
Manager Aaron Boone proceeded cautiously after Judge and Stanton were reinstated from the injured list, aiming to avoid a recurrence of their respective ailments -- Judge had a lingering right calf issue, while Stanton needed more than six weeks to return from a left hamstring strain. The plan is to continue building the sluggers up so they will be able to play in every postseason game.

While infielder Gio Urshela and right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga have both been activated, left-hander James Paxton is still on the injured list with a left flexor tendon strain, and he was recently transferred to the 45-day injured list. It is still possible, though unlikely, that Paxton could return during the postseason.

Voit’s status is worth watching. He has been grinding through an undisclosed foot injury -- perhaps plantar fasciitis -- that has made it difficult to run at times. Thus far, Voit has been able to remain in the lineup. If he can’t go, Ford might get at-bats, or the Yanks could shift LeMahieu to first base.

What about Domingo Germán?
Germán is technically eligible to pitch in the postseason, having served an 81-game suspension for violating the Joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence Policy -- which included the Yankees’ nine postseason games last season. However, he was unable to train at any team facilities in the United States or the Dominican Republic as a condition of his suspension, thus he is not considered to be in game shape. Germán is expected to return as a full-fledged member of the roster in 2021.

When and where are the games?
The American League Wild Card Series, a best-of-three set, will begin on Sept. 29 and conclude by Oct. 1, with the league’s top four seeds hosting in their home ballparks.

The American League Division Series, a best-of-five, will begin on Oct. 5 with games to be played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Petco Park in San Diego. The ALDS will conclude by Oct. 9.

The American League Championship Series, a best-of-seven, will begin on Oct. 11 in San Diego. The ALCS will conclude by Oct. 17.

The World Series will take place at Globe Life Field in Arlington, with Game 1 scheduled for Oct. 20. A potential Game 7 would be played on Oct. 28.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.