This wasn’t the way the Yankees drew it up this spring, playing out the string in September.
Not with Aaron Judge coming off a 62-homer MVP season, Anthony Rizzo back with a club that made MLB’s final four in 2022, and lefty free agent prize Carlos Rodon added to a rotation led by Gerrit Cole.
If you looked at the 2023 schedule in April, you’d eventually be drawn to Labor Day weekend.
That’s when the Yankees made their one and only regular season trip to Houston to play the defending world champion Astros – a frequent, recent, and much loathed pinstriped rival.
Energy. Heat. Excitement. Sparks.
Pennant race baseball.
Well, that weekend is here.
And the Yankees are so high, far and gone from the postseason picture that it’s almost hard to imagine they were one game behind Houston for a wild card spot at the All-Star break.
Imagining the Yankees’ updated lineup
Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells will be making their MLB debuts this weekend, adding to the Yankees’ current youth movement.
It’s an acknowledgment of a lost season, a confirmation of a flawed roster and a 2023 plan gone so badly astray that 2024 is already clouded with serious doubt.
At least, the first promise of genuine hope has arrived with the Yankees in Houston.
Here’s the potential lineup that Aaron Boone could write on Friday night against Hall-of-Fame bound right-hander Justin Verlander:
DJ LeMahieu, 1B
Aaron Judge, RF
Gleyber Torres, 2B
Anthony Volpe, SS
Austin Wells, C
Jasson Dominguez, CF
Everson Pereira, LF
Oswald Peraza, 3B.
That’s five rookies in the final five spots of the Yankees lineup, making it feel like a March exhibition game at Tampa, Fla.
Anthony Volpe led the Yankees’ youth movement
A veteran laden Yankees team had left camp with high expectations, among them the ability to generate enough offense to allow rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe to develop semi off spotlight.
After a tough first-half learning experience in the majors, Volpe reached the 20-20 (homers-steals) mark with his 20th homer of the season, a game-tying, three-run shot in Thursday’s ninth inning at Detroit – a game won by the Tigers, 4-3, in 10 innings.
Pereira earned his way to the Yankees in August, with an impressive .937 OPS in 35 games since his eary July promotion to Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Peraza was overdue to the majors when the Yanks summoned him again in August.
Both Pereira and Peraza have struggled to gain traction since their callups, and you wonder if the Yanks miscalculated again with one of their premium-rated prospects and whiffed on the chance to deal Peraza at a much higher value last summer.
Bringing some needed energy to the Yankees
Dominguez, 20, already dubbed ‘The Martian’ for his out-of-this-world tools, the switch-hitting outfielder had some rough stretches in the minors.
But he’s learned how to rebound and has responded to challenges, as has Wells, whose catching might be suspect, but his left-handed swing has impressed scouts at each level. Wells should also get some looks at first base.
At minimum, the Yankees’ Nos. 2 and 3 prospects as rated by MLB Pipeline will bring some refreshing new energy to the lineup, while giving fans and management a valuable glimpse into the future.
There was no point in giving at-bats to pending free agents Harrison Bader and Josh Donaldson, and much to gain by promoting players who expect to be competing for big league jobs this spring.
Donaldson was released a few days ago. Bader was claimed off waivers Thursday by the Cincinnati Reds, further clearing a path for the kids.
It’s the only call that management could make after failing to recognize roster-building construction flaws – a series of missteps that dashed any thoughts they had of being a World Series caliber club in 2023.
That road has now led to a different kind of September in the Bronx.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Yankees youth movement: Lineup with Jasson Dominguez, Austin Wells?