The New York Yankees need some help on the offensive end, and they need it now. After another depressing performance in the batter's box during Game 2 of the ALCS, the Bombers find themselves down 0-2 with the prospect of facing Detroit Tigers ace, Justin Verlander.
Clearly there are some guys on this team who are hitting, and some who simply aren't. It's time for Manager Joe Girardi to take some steps to help fix this ailing offense.
Let's take a look at what the Yanks could do to bolster their lineup for Game 3 of the ALCS.
1. Ichiro Suzuki: LF
Ichiro has been hot in these playoffs and there's no reason to move him from the top of the order now.
Combined with his ability to handle the bat, speed and defensive prowess in the outfield, Suzuki is the best table-setter the Yanks have by far on this roster. Now all that's left is to find someone to hit behind him that can actually make contact.
2. Eduardo Nunez: DH
Nunez's glove is still considered shaky at best and being that the pressure-packed playoffs aren't likely to bring out the best in the young infielder's defense, the safest bet is to start him at DH.
Forgetting about the glove for a second, Nunez can certainly handle the bat. In fact, that's the only thing that gives Nunez a chance to play in this series. Behind Ichiro, Nunez gives the Yanks another element at speed at the top of the order, not to mention an ability to play some small ball if need be.
Most importantly, Nunez will put the ball in play and that's something this offense is sorely lacking at the moment.
3. Raul Ibanez: RF
Ibanez may not be a solid outfielder at the age of 40, but he couldn't be much worse than Nick Swisher has been in this series in the field. It was Swisher's misplay of a line drive off the bat of Delmon Young that helped cost the Bombers Game 1.
It's time the Yanks put their best hitter batting third, which is typical for any team. Ibanez is swinging the bat better than any Yankee by far in these playoffs, batting a sensation .438. Ibanez is also swinging the bat for power and that should help New York drive some runs in if Ichiro and Nunez can get on in front of him.
4. Mark Teixeira: 1B
The Yankees have enjoyed the arrival of Tex to playoff baseball, something the team can say has never happened since he joined the pinstripes.
Tex is hitting .320 in October, but his power numbers have been down of late. You have to figure that with the way he's hitting, Teixeira will eventually run into one and notch his first homer of the postseason. Even if he can't, he gives the Bombers another reliable hitter to make something happen behind two of the three hottest hitters on the team.
5. Robinson Cano: 2B
Cano is in the midst of the worst postseason slump in Major League Baseball history. The troubled second baseman hasn't gotten a hit in 26 straight at-bats which is mind-boggling considered how Cano ended the regular season.
Despite his struggles, the Yankees can't bury him down further in the order. Cano seemed to be making some solid contact in Game 2, only to have most of his hard hit balls go foul. All the Bombers can do at this point is hope those hard hit balls are straightened out and turned into base hits as Cano is simply too good to continue to play this poorly.
6. Alex Rodrigez: 3B
A-Rod was encouraged by his last two plate appearances in Game 2, hitting the ball solid both times at-bat, one of which landed for a base hit. As sad as it might be to get excited over such a measly showing, it's about all the Yanks have to hold on to with their third baseman at this point.
But Girardi should have a short leash with Rodriguez based on his past performance in this series and the one before.
Truthfully, Eric Chavez should be given the start in this game, but A-Rod must be given yet another chance to redeem himself in these playoffs. However if A-Rod doesn't show some signs of finding his stroke in his first two at-bats, Chavez should be immediately inserted to get a new look.
7. Curtis Granderson: CF
Granderson has been pitiful in these playoffs and doesn't deserve to start either, but with this lineup not having Swisher in it, that makes it necessary to keep the Yanks center fielder in for some added power. At least Granderson has actually run into one in the playoffs and could quite possibly do it again for New York.
It'll be important to see Granderson change his approach at the plate. Far too often, Granderson has been falling behind in counts, making it impossible for him to see good pitches. Against Verlander, Grandy must remain patient and stop giving the opposing pitcher the gift of an 0-2 or 1-2 count on a consistent basis. Such a count won't help Granderson get any fastballs and those are the pitches he prefers to take deep.
8. Russell Martin: C
Martin is one of the few Yankees who have had some semblance of sucesss in the playoffs in 2012, but even so his average is a depressing .192. But still, Martin is putting the ball in play and hitting in this spot in the order offers the Yanks more chances to play small ball.
At No. 8, Martin will have Jayson Nix hitting behind him and that affords the Bombers an ability to play some small ball should Martin get on. Nix can drive Martin to second, leaving a RBI opportunity for Ichiro, one of the Yanks best hitters at the moment.
9. Jayson Nix: SS
By default, Nix is the best defensive shortstop the Yanks have on their postseason roster, thus making it necessary to start him there. Nix hasn't seen much playing time in the postseason, but the Yanks can be encouraged by his 2-for-7 showing thus far.
Nix has hit the ball solid a few times in this postseason, nearly missing a few homers in the process. But most importantly, Nix could lay one down if the Yanks need, setting the table for the top of the order to have some cracks at a RBI situation.