The 2021 NY Yankees Opening Day roster is far from set in stone at this point. Of course, a good majority of the 26 available roster slots are basically locked up, but there are definitely a few questions that still need to be answered about who is going to fill out the bench and the bullpen of this team. Let’s take a look at how the roster may look when the Yankees begin their season on April 1st.
2021 NY Yankees Roster
As long as everyone makes it through Spring Training healthy, the Opening Day starting lineup for the 2021 NY Yankees appears to be pretty clear. Their ace starting pitcher Gerrit Cole will obviously be taking the mound and the rest of the team knows what positions they will be playing for their first game of the season. The batting order is still to be determined but it could look something like this:
2B DJ LeMahieu
RF Aaron Judge
CF Aaron Hicks
1B Luke Voit
3B Gio Urshela
The only two spots in the order that are guaranteed are that LeMahieu is going to hit leadoff and Judge is going to bat second. They will remain in those two spots every day that they are in the lineup. The third through ninth spots could be arranged in a variety of different ways and will likely be shuffled around from game to game.
Starting Pitching Rotation
It is an absolute lock that Gerrit Cole is going to be at the top of the rotation for the 2021 NY Yankees but that is the only thing that is a given. While it is extremely likely that Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, and Jordan Montgomery are all going to be a part of the rotation, it is unclear where they will fall in the five-man order. The fifth starting pitcher on the staff is where the Yankees have a few different options to choose from including Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt.
For now, the edge for that fifth spot in the 2021 NY Yankees starting rotation goes to Domingo German, who has returned to the team after a long suspension. To make things even a little more complicated, at some point this summer Luis Severino will be ready to return after recovering from Tommy John surgery so he will be looking for a role as well. Depth is a luxury, not a liability, so this is a “problem” that the Yankees are happy to have.
The list of relief pitchers that are definitely going to be on the roster is Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, Justin Wilson, and Darren O’Day. After that group, the 2021 NY Yankees are going to have some decisions to make. There are a number of different ways they could fill out their bullpen.
After gaining some MLB experience last season, it would make sense to use youngsters Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia out of the bullpen if German does in fact win that fifth spot in the starting rotation. They could very well share in long relief duties along with Jonathan Loaisiga.
This would give the 2021 NY Yankees Opening Day roster thirteen pitchers, with three of those being long relievers with the ability to spot start when necessary. That is enough pitching, but they may still opt to carry one additional arm on the roster anyway. If they do decide to go with a fourteenth, they have many options including Luis Cessa, Michael King, and Albert Abreu.
Whether the 2021 NY Yankees carry thirteen or fourteen pitchers will determine if they will have three or four bench players to round out their roster. They will obviously need to have a backup catcher, and that role in all likelihood will be assigned to Kyle Higashioka. The one other player who is basically a guarantee to make the team is Brett Gardner. The Yankees recently signed Gardner to a new contract and would not have done so if they didn’t plan on giving him a spot on the 26 man roster.
This leaves only one or two more bench spots left on the 2021 NY Yankees with a ton of players fighting for it. The team seems to like the versatility of Tyler Wade, who can play just about any position in the field. He also adds some speed to the team, which is something they are lacking. His ability to be a backup for many positions paired with being a solid pinch-runner late in games may give Wade the edge over the other options.
If the 2021 NY Yankees do decide to carry a fourth bench player instead of a fourteenth pitcher on their Opening Day roster, then they have many different ways they can go. Among the very long list of options are Mike Tauchman, Jay Bruce, and Derek Dietrich but it may just be the potent bat of Miguel Andujar that wins the final battle.
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