The MLB calendar hits one of its final milestones today as club rosters can be expanded from 25 to 40 players. The Yankees have a slew of players that will eventually come to the Bronx, but expect the shuttle to make multiple trips. We'll review some of the players who might have an impact down the stretch (in alphabetical order).
Note: All prospect rankings are via MLB Pipeline.
Miguel Andujar (Yankees' No. 6 prospect)
Andujar has shredded Triple-A pitching this season (.333 batting average, .379 on-base percentage and .531 slugging percentage with nine home runs and 30 RBIs in 235 plate appearances), but he's been bypassed as a call-up mainly because he is considered a work in progress at third base (.939 fielding percentage). Once the Yankees received Todd Frazier in the White Sox trade, Andujar feel further back on the depth chart. The thing is, Andujar's bat is legit and the Yankees could use some right-handed pop. It will be interesting to see when Andujar is moved up, but don't expect him to be replacing anyone just because he can be carried with the big club.
Tyler Austin (Yankees' No. 15 prospect)
Austin has made cameos at first base and in right field with the Yankees this season, but the 25-year-old has battled injuries through much of the season. With Greg Bird back in the fold and Chase Headley now able to man first base, Austin's time in September will be likely relegated to pinch-hitting duties and maybe an occasional start to rest a player unless a significant injury develops.
Acquired in a trade with the Brewers, Cooper delivered some fine moments at first base before he went down with an injury. Cooper is currently on the 10-day disabled list, but is on a rehab assignment. Like Austin, Cooper will provide some pinch-hitting duties and potentially a spot start here and there.
Clint Frazier (MLB's No. 27 prospect, Yankees' No. 2 prospect)
Before succumbing to an oblique injury, Frazier had demonstrated his talent with a hot start while providing an electric boost to the club in July. Frazier slowed a bit, but in 117 plate appearances, the 22-year-old put up a .751 OPS with four home runs and 17 RBIs. Frazier is not especially close to returning, but when he does he could spell the corner outfielders on occasion or pinch hit.
Ben Heller (Yankees' No. 23 prospect)
Heller has been with New York in 2016 and 2017, but has been pushed down the relief ladder after uneven performances with the Yankees. Heller has a power fastball (sits in high 90s) and a decent slider, which have done him well in his time with Scranton-Wilkes/Barre (56 1/3 IP, 2.88 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 82 K). Heller has the talent to succeed in New York, but it's not likely he will be utilized in big spots in September without multiple injuries to the current relief crew.
September is a typical time to bring up a third catcher, unfortunately Higashioka is currently on the Triple-A disabled list with a shoulder injury. The timetable for his return is unclear, which could be problematic with the Yankees facing suspensions for Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine from their fracas in Detroit. If the Yankees need a catcher and Higashioka is unavailable, they might need to call up Eddy Rodriguez or the newly-acquired Erik Kratz, which would necessitate a 40-man roster move.
Holder threw 37 2/3 innings for the Yankees this season before being demoted with a 3.58 ERA. Holder struck out 37 batters and walked just eight, but he allowed 42 hits. He has a 1.88 ERA in 14 1/3 innings in Scranton, however he would likely be used much like Heller: sparingly.
It's funny to list Holliday as a September call-up, but he is likely to be activated Friday, so technically he will be. Holliday was big piece of the Yankees' first-half success until he contracted a virus which sapped his energy and pushed him into a deep slump. Holliday has 16 home runs and 51 RBIs with a .748 OPS in 361 plate appearances this season. Holliday no longer possesses a firm grip on the designated hitter role as Headley would seem to get a bulk of the time with right-handed pitching on the mound. My guess is that Holliday will garner some reps against lefties and not become the full-time DH again.
Mitchell has been up and down with the Yankees this season, while being flip-flopped between starting and relieving. Mitchell will be able to provide the Yankees innings in games in which they either have a big lead or find themselves in a large deficit. Otherwise, Mitchell will be hanging out in the bullpen.
Montgomery might not have deserved his fate after the Yankees traded for Jaime Garcia, but with an innings limit in the way, the 24-year-old lefty found his way back to Triple-A. Montgomery pitched to a 4.15 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with 123 strikeouts in 130 innings in New York. He stabilized the backend of the rotation and, truth be told, he could receive some starts down the stretch if Garcia falters. Left-handed hitters batted .209 against Montgomery, which might provide him some time in relief when the opponent has a string of lefty hitters in the lineup. It's also possible that Montgomery be the first man in if a starter falters early a game.
Wade spent about two months with the Yankees, but accumulated just 57 plate appearances. The time was unwisely used in my opinion, because Wade was visibly overmatched at the plate (.135/.211/.212). He probably should have been sent back to Triple-A, but the roster precluded it. As for September, Wade could be used as pinch runner, as he possesses above-average speed. Beyond that, Wade would have to wait for an injury to an infielder to receive significant time.