The latest on the Yankees, who will try to draw even against the archrival Red Sox in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Saturday after dropping the opener Friday:
- Luke Voit may be on his way to becoming an “increasingly legitimate answer” at first base for the Yankees, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post observes. Acquired in what was then a low-key trade with the Cardinals in July, Voit slashed an astounding .322/.398/.671 (187 wRC+) with 15 home runs in 161 regular-season plate appearances, also posting the majors’ leading expected weighted on-base average (.440) among those with at least 150 PA. The 27-year-old continued to stand out during the Yankees’ first two playoff games – including their wild-card win over the Athletics – and general manager Brian Cashman said Friday (via Davidoff): “He’s certainly exceeded my expectations. He’s batting close to the middle of the lineup in the postseason. That’s pretty impressive stuff. And he’s certainly taken advantage of his opportunity playing here. I’m thankful for it.”
- Voit was on New York’s “radar” before it acquired him for relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos, Cashman revealed, adding that “our analytics crew had noticed him early on. In a lot of our meetings last year, he was someone we coveted from St. Louis, and we finally matched up.” Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe sheds more light on the Voit addition, writing that assistant GM Tim Naehring has credited both the Yankees’ scouting staff and fellow AGM Mike Fishman – an “analytics guru,” per Cafardo – for the move. A 22nd-round pick of the Cardinals in 2013, Voit totaled just 137 PA with them – during which he batted a mediocre .240/.307/.432 (93 OPS+) – prior to the trade.
- While Voit looks like the in-house favorite to start at first for the Yankees in 2019, Cashman’s not ready to give up on the 25-year-old Greg Bird, who has battled injuries and inconsistency during his 659-PA career (via Davidoff). “The way his season played out has been a head-scratcher. But the great thing about our game … is he’ll go home and try to regain all the accolades that were coming his way with performance and that can start next spring,” Cashman said of Bird, who hit an ugly .199/.286/.386 (81 wRC+) with 11 HRs in 311 trips to the plate during the regular season.
- Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks aggravated his right hamstring Friday, forcing him to exit in the fourth inning, but it seems he dodged a serious injury. While Hicks won’t start Game 2 in Boston, he’ll be available off the bench, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com relays. Manager Aaron Boone said he “wouldn’t hesitate” to use Hicks, whom Brett Gardner replaced Friday and will once again fill in for on Saturday.