Boone On WFAN: Voit Has Earned 'Everyday At-Bats'

Mike's On
September 07, 2018 - 6:26 pm
The Yankees' Luke Voit celebrates his solo home run with third-base coach Phil Nevin on Sept. 4, 2018, at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.

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By WFAN.com

It’s been an interesting 2018 campaign for the New York Yankees.

Despite racking up 87 wins with 22 games still remaining, New York sits 9.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Boston’s dominance will most likely force the Yankees to participate in the American League’s win-or-go-home Wild Card Game in order to punch their ticket to the ALDS.

If things hold the same and New York finds itself in the Wild Card Game, it is unclear which starting pitcher the Bronx Bombers would hand the ball to. Luis Severino is the team’s perceived ace, but has struggled mightily over the last two months. J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka have also looked solid in general this year, but both have endured their own fair share of bumps along the way.

With the do-or-die scenario looking more and more likely as each day passes, Yankees manager Aaron Boone will have to start thinking about who he might hand the ball to in the team’s most important game of the year.

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While that decision remains a few weeks away, Boone joined WFAN Friday to share his thoughts on the important matter.

“I think it really comes down to how they’re throwing the ball the final few weeks," Boone told Mike Francesa Friday. "Hopefully we have a difficult decision because hopefully those three guys are building momentum going into that game and coming off starts in which they’re pitching well. Then you start to factor in who are we playing? What’s the matchups look like? What does our pen look like? How does a guy maybe slide into a bullpen role potentially in that game? So those are things that we’ll be evaluating in earnest these next few weeks.

"But I would imagine we will go with a guy that will be throwing the ball well, that we have a lot of confidence in based on how he performs here over these last few weeks, coupled with who we’re playing and what matchup we like the best."

Regardless of who trots out to the mound for that crucial start, New York will need all of its offensive firepower back in the lineup in order to have a real chance at making a deep postseason run.

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has been out since getting hit with a pitch on the wrist on July 26. The outfielder took a huge step in his recovery this week when he swung a bat for the first time earlier this week.

As the week has gone on, Judge has been able to do more and more with the bat, and it appears as if he’s working his way towards returning to the lineup before the season comes to an end.

“Judge is really starting to gain some momentum," Boone said prior to the team's game against the Seattle Mariners. "I'm actually sitting here watching him- he's hitting on the field right now. He's hitting off the tee and doing some soft toss on the field as we speak right now. He continues to bounce back from the uptick in workload that he’s been able to do, and the wrist is starting to feel a lot better. 

"We're getting encouraging news there, and hopefully we can continue to build on that and start getting closer to that point where we can get him back."

The powerful outfielder isn’t the only key Yankee currently sitting on the disabled list. Closer Aroldis Chapman has been on the disabled list since August 23 with left knee tendinitis.

Despite facing a gloomy outlook as recently as a few days ago, Chapman is making progress in his rehab.

There is still no timetable for Chapman’s return, but Boone told WFAN the closer is no longer experiencing pain in his knee.

“Chapman had a day off from throwing yesterday, but is in Tampa, has been pain free on the knee, looks good..." Boone told Francesa about his star closer. "He's just been throwing on flat ground but looks good in doing that for the three days that he did it. I'm not sure how it went today, I haven't gotten his report yet on today, but we do feel like he's he's going to be back with us before the end of the season as well.

 While New York’s plan at closer while Chapman remains on the shelf has been somewhat unclear, it is not the only position that has caused some frustration for Boone and the Yankees.

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Greg Bird was supposed to be the team’s starting first baseman this season, but the 25-year-old has been unable to produce on a consistent basis. His average currently sits at .197 in 259 at-bats this year.

Recently Boone has been going with Luke Voit at first base, and the big righty has rewarded his manager’s confidence in him with four home runs over the last seven games.

Voit is hitting .317 in 63 at-bats with the Yankees this season while collecting seven home runs and 15 RBI.

Boone wouldn’t go so far as to name Voit the team’s starting first baseman for the rest of the season, but the manager did admit the 27-year-old has earned an extended look.

“I would say he’s earned his continued at bats," the Yankees manager said about the 27-year-old first baseman. "He’s played pretty much every day here for the last ten days, two weeks it seems like. He’s back in there tonight. I don't see him coming out because the at-bat qualities are great... But I would always caution- sometimes we're quick to write out the script or start the narrative. All of a sudden, you know, Greg Bird gets an opportunity. He's feeling good and gets in a place where he has a game and he has a couple big hits or something... all of a sudden, he can get back into this picture before you know it.

"We still have a little ways to go. Hopefully both guys will play a role in this. But certainly Luke Voit, for right now, is earning everyday at-bats."