The New York Yankees continue to roll and have opened up a two-game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays going into Monday’s games. The Yankees, after opening the season slow with a 6-9 record have now gone 28-9 to methodically move into first place. More impressive is the number of injuries the Yankees have had, including several top players still sidelined.
Key Players Injured
On the injured list are two of the best home run hitters in all of baseball in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both are expected back at some point in July. Third baseman Miguel Andujar is also out for the season. On the bright side, shortstop Didi Gregorius could be back much sooner than the Yankees expected. Scoring runs is not the problem as the Yankees are averaging over five runs per game.
The more troublesome injuries are to the pitching and most specifically the starting rotation. Luis Severino, James Paxton, and CC Sabathia are all on the injured list. Paxton is due to be back on Wednesday, and Sabathia, 38, is expected to have stints on the injured list. That being said, the injury to Severino is the one that is most troublesome. He is not expected back until mid-July at the earliest.
The Yankees’ young offensive studs have now been carrying this team. Once returning from his own injury, Gary Sanchez has now shaken off the bad taste of his 2018 season. He has been living up to his nickname, ‘The Kraken’ with 15 home runs and 31 RBI. Gleyber Torres is establishing himself as an offensive force with 13 home runs and 29 RBI. Clint Frazier who also has shaken off an injury has hit nine HR’s and drive in 27 runs. Luke Voit is showing his hot stretch last year was no fluke has hit 13 home runs and also has 37 RBI.
DJ LeMahieu was signed as a free agent and has been a key-veteran player keeping this team together during all of these injuries. Fill-in players such as Gio Urshela and Thairo Estrada are establishing themselves as more than just fill-in players. General Manager Brian Cashman was able to dip into his farm system to replace injured players and did not have to make a trade for a bat. That patience has indeed paid off for him.
The Yankee Pitching
The staple of the Yankee pitching staff was going to be their bullpen. The quartet of Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton have combined to give up 18 earned runs in 89.1 innings. That’s a 1.81 earned run average. This is with Dellin Betances not having pitched one inning this year.
But perhaps the biggest surprise is how good the starting pitching has held up. Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German, Paxton & Sabathia have a combined ERA of 3.23. The only starting pitcher who has not been effective is J.A. Happ. With how frequent pitchers get injured this seems to be the one area the Yankees might upgrade as the season goes on. But for now, everything is clicking in the Bronx.
The Rays raced out to a big lead while the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox struggled. Now the Yankees have claimed first place and the Red Sox are over .500 seemingly righting the ship. We are getting the three-team race we thought we would prior to the season.
The Yankees are well stocked with star players to carry this team throughout the year. Also due to injuries several back-ups and younger players have played well and could be used in potential trades should the Yankees have a need for it. As the Yankees continue to roll and get healthier, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images