The New York Yankees will not begin their American League Division Series until Tuesday, Oct. 11 thanks to their wild-card bye. Take it as good news, then, that manager Aaron Boone felt confident enough to state during a radio appearance on Thursday that his belief is that infielder Matt Carpenter will be part of New York's playoff roster come next week.
"I expect him to be on the roster," Boone said on the Michael Kay Show on 98.7FM ESPN New York, according to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com.
Carpenter, 36, has not appeared in a big-league game since Aug. 8 after breaking his foot, but before that, he had emerged as one of the season's most pleasant surprises. In 47 games with the Yankees, Carpenter batted .305/.412/.727 (217 OPS+) with 15 home runs and 37 runs batted in. His contributions had been worth an estimated 2.4 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference's calculations.
"The biggest thing is him getting in there and seeing live pitching," Boone had told Randy Miller of NJ.com earlier this week. "He's had five or so at-bats each day (of late) and now we'll get eyes on him through the weekend and into next week. I'm optimistic and feel like physically he's in a pretty good place."
Even if Carpenter is limited to pinch-hit duty, his return should provide the Yankees with an added offensive dimension based on his left-handedness. The Yankees ended the season with just four batters who primarily hit lefty: Anthony Rizzo and switch-hitters Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Marwin Gonzalez. Of those four, only Rizzo (131 OPS+) and Cabrera (109 OPS+) were offensive assets.
Carpenter is just one of a few Yankees who could be making their return to active duty with the opening of the postseason. Relievers Clay Holmes (shoulder strain) and Wandy Peralta (thoracic spine tightness) also appear likely to make the ALDS roster.