If we told you that you couldn’t look at the standings, but reeled off all the wounded for the New York Yankees, you might be caught saying, “Well, there’s always next year.”
Just ponder all this:
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have put together 104 plate appearances between them. Aaron Hicks (27 homers last year) only became available in mid-May. Miguel Andujar, who was nothing short of a revelation last year as he hit 27 homers and just missed the .300 mark, finishing second in the rookie of the year voting (ahead of Gleyber Torres), played briefly, then suffered a shoulder injury that has put him out for the year. Greg Bird, the first baseman who has been a real heart-breaker, is sidelined with a foot injury.
Luis Severino, the ace of the staff, has a rotator cuff injury that continues to keep him out. He hasn’t played in 2019; neither has another All-Star, fire-throwing reliever Dellin Betances, or southpaw Jordan Montgomery, who may have been the best rookie pitcher in the American League in 2017.
James Paxton, potentially dominant when healthy, missed a few weeks in May, although such a thing might be expected of him, considering his history. CC Sabathia was out for about ten days before recently returning.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, a superstar at one time, played in five games, then went on the injured list with a calf strain and hasn’t played since (Ooh, we don’t want Golden State Warriors/Kevin Durant fans to read that).
So how have the Yankees been able to matriculate their way to a 39-22 record and a lead in the American League East (through Thursday’s games), making them the third-leading favorite at BetAnySports to win the World Series at +575?
Well, some guys have started to do what they’re capable of, and frankly, they’ve gotten some nice surprises.
For one thing, catcher Gary Sanchez isn’t hitting .186 this year; he is, in fact more than 70 points higher and just so happens to be leading the American League in home runs (with 19). Luke Voit has shown the team that he was more than just a flash in the pan as a second-half pickup in 2018. He has a .962 OPS as a Yankee, with 29 homers in 356 at bats (one for every 12.3 at bats).
An afterthought named Gio Urshela has come in and hit .323 at third base. If he had enough times at the plate, he’d be among the top five in the AL in batting. DJ LeMahieu, a National League batting champion as recently as 2016, but someone who came to the Bronx without a clearly defined position, is hitting .323 as well (ranking him fourth), with an .851 OPS.
No one in the rotation has been a disaster; in fact, no one has a WHIP that exceeds 1.300. And the Yankees are always going to have some arms in the bullpen. Domingo German has started to fulfill promise; the Yanks are 10-2 in games he’s started, and he has almost a 4-1 ratio of strikeouts to walks, which isn’t bad.
One important thing to mention is that Gleyber Torres cheerfully moved himself over to play shortstop, after a year as an All-Star second baseman – not that the position was foreign to him, as he was hell on wheels there in the minors. And he’s doing just fine, with 14 homers already.
Now he’s about to move over for the guy he calls “the captain of the infield,”, and he’s cheerful about that too.
The Yankees were expected to have Didi Gregorius available as of Friday, as he is returning from a minor league rehab assignment, pursuant to his Tommy John surgery. Gregorius, if you recall, was setting the American League on fire early last season, with ten homers, a .327 average and a whopping 1.156 OPS by the end of April. He cooled off considerably after that, and then there was the elbow injury.
Naturally, Aaron Boone, the Yankee skipper who has to be given all the consideration in the world for the manager of the year award (unless Minnesota’s Rocco Baldelli or Texas’ Chris Woodward steals his thunder), is not going to work Didi to death just yet. But he needs to get into a hitting rhythm. Gregorius had just three base hits in 20 at bats in his rehab stint.
And he is leading what could be a flood of players getting back into pinstripes. The Yankees are playing the Red Sox in London at the end of June – the first time that rivalry will be conducted on an artificial surface. By that time, they could conceivably have the services of Judge, Stanton, Betances, Bird and Tulowitzki. Severino could be ready shortly after the All-Star break. And who knows – we might even see a sighting of Jacoby Ellsbury (remember him?) sometime in July. Montgomery is throwing bullpen sessions and may be back in August.
So BetAnySports patrons should take note that, as the Yankees get healthier, they’ll have a pretty good idea of what their needs will be as the trade deadline approaches. Yes, we know they were not able to sign former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel (who just went to Atlanta), but I’m not sure they looked at him as more than a fourth or fifth starter, and they may not even have room for him. I think they don’t mind what they have, and what is returning from injury. And for those people considering the Yankees as a futures proposition (to win the AL, for instance, at +300), they are one of the teams you just KNOW is going to be active in July if they feel they have to be. So don’t worry about them standing still.
It would be one thing if they just had depth coming off the injured list. But there is, at the very least, an infusion of four legitimate All-Star performers. It’s just a matter of how long it takes to get back into the swing of things, and it’s a very scary prospect for the fans in Boston and Tampa Bay, whose teams may be relegated to playing each other in the one-off to move forward.
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