The New York Yankees have prevailed throughout this season despite a ridiculous number of injuries. It’s now September and they remain at the top of the AL East by a solid number of games. If they could just stay healthy, this New York team looks totally capable of hanging another title in the postseason. Last week was a rough one for the Yankees, however, creating even more injuries along with challenges and uncertainties when it comes to replacing key players. So far, they’ve been able to push through these sorts of issues and even build a 10-game division lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the process. But will last week’s injuries change things at all? And what do these injuries mean for the playoffs? Let’s discuss.
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The Good News
The Yankees are heading toward their fourth postseason in five years. Looking like one of the best teams in the league, they’re in the running with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros as current World Series favorites. The Yankees are on track to win 105 games or more this season, and for the first time since 2012, it looks like they’ll win the division title after years of Red Sox dominance in the AL East.
Here’s what the Yankees have going right for them at the moment:
As far as the lineup goes, Luke Voit, who’s had a bit of a dry spell since July, hit a home run against the Tigers last week. After his stellar season in 2018, many hope that this is a sign that he’s back, baby. That two-run homer was his first since missing 29 games due to a hernia. He followed it up with a double.
Speaking of homers, Gleyber Torres is hitting so well that he has a shot to beat Alex Rodriguez’s home run record if he keeps it up. The 22-year-old is on pace for 40 homers this season. He’s currently sitting at 36, tied with A. Rod’s 1996 record and just six away from his 1998 record. Torres has been a sneakily big part of the Yankees’ success this year, but storylines like the return of Aaron Judge and the team’s rash of injuries continue to overshadow him. We see you, Torres.
It’s infielder DJ LeMahieu who might be the most talked-about Yankee as of late. Sitting at 24 home runs this season, the American League MVP candidate has been called the league’s “purest hitter.” In 2016, he led the National League with a .348 batting average and now he stands to win the AL this year too. Catcher Gary Sanchez admits, “We expect [LeMahieu] to get two hits, four hits every game. That’s the kind of hitter he is.”
Gio Urshela, who returned from the Injured List this month, has been better than expected this season. With 20 homers, 131 hits, and 69 runs, the Colombian third baseman has been a great addition to the Yankees’ lineup as well as a key defensive piece in the infield.
It’s been a long wait for pitcher Luis Severino to take the mound again after spending a whole season on the IL as well. His return is expected to be huge for the team, or at least fans hope so. Severino is back just in time for the final games of the regular season, potentially starting his first against the Los Angeles Angels at home this week. Fans are also eagerly awaiting the return of right fielder and super slugger Giancarlo Stanton to knock in some homers and boost the Yankees’ offense. Rumor has it Stanton could potentially return as early as this week too. Tuesday perhaps? Fingers crossed these guys have the expected impact.
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The Bad News
The Yankees have sent 30 players to the Injured List this season. That’s a league record, and not the kind that any team is looking to break. Just when they appear to be getting healthy, disaster seems to strike again. Kind of like last week…
First baseman and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion left last week’s double-header in Detroit with an oblique strain. Manager Aaron Boone says that they don’t believe he’ll be out for an extended period, but that sounds pretty vague to us.
Pitcher JA Happ also left Detroit to rest instead of continuing on to Toronto to face the Blue Jays with the rest of the team. While he made it through 4.5 innings on the mound, the left-hander has been dealing with bicep tendonitis for his last few starts. (Supposedly, he felt like he could play through it.) Now he’ll be receiving a tune-up, a few tests, and maybe a cortisone shot. Happ says he dealt with the same injury in 2016, which just so happens to be the best year of his career. Ironically, his last several starts have also been his best of this season. So we’ll see how serious it is…
Perhaps even worse, catcher and slugger Gary Sanchez also went home for some rest instead of playing the Jays. He’s dealing with some groin tightness after getting caught stealing second base against the Tigers on Thursday. He says he felt like he might’ve overstretched his leg in the process but continued catching for another inning before leaving the game. The loss of Sanchez would be a big blow to the Yankees’ offense, but Boone says he hopes this is a “minor thing.”
And just as a reminder, the Yanks have likely lost outfielders Aaron Hicks and Mike Tauchman for the rest of the season. Yeah, it’s getting crowded on the IL.
After sweeping the Tigers last week, the Yankees faced the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend. This week they’ll play the LA Angels at home in the Bronx before taking on the Jays again. Next week, the Tampa Bay Rays will attempt to gain some division ground in two games against the Yanks down in Florida.
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