It wasn’t supposed to start off this way for the third-place New York Yankees, but here we are with a team racked with injuries, an impotent middle of the lineup, and a disjointed bullpen. But the good news is it can’t get any worse – right?
It took fourteen innings last night to finally locate a reliever in the Yankees bullpen who would give the game away on one ill-fated pitch that went for a three-run home run. It took only four innings, though, for CC Sabathia to leave the game with an apparent injury to his hip. But that wasn’t all.
To add insult to injury (ha-ha), third baseman Brandon Drury, second baseman Tyler Wade and catcher Gary Sanchez also departed from the game with assorted physical issues. Add this to the list of players already on the DL (Billy McKinney, Aaron Hicks, Greg Bird, Clint Frazier, Jacoby Ellsbury), and the Yankees are starting to remind of the team from last season that plays on the other side of the Triboro Bridge.
Injuries are part of the game and blah, blah, blah. And this is where pennant contending teams are supposed to be able to dig deep into their farm system to replace players who go down. Well, guess what? That “depth” the Yankees were supposed to have has yet to surface. And when it has as in the case of Miguel Andujar, production mysteriously has translated into zero hits in fifteen at-bats.
And he’s not the only one. When you check the Yankees offensive stats for the season thus far, you have to scroll almost to the bottom to find Tyler Wade and Tyler Austin. Just below them lies Gary Sanchez who has managed only two hits in 32 tries.
It’s okay to throw the old cliche out there rationalizing the season is young, and “it’s early.” But, as baseball’s sage, Yogi Berra, reminded us when he was asked for the difference between catching and playing left field, “It sure gets late out here early.” In his convoluted way, Yogi takes a snapshot of the hole the Yankees are digging for themselves.
Aaron Hicks is supposed to be back this coming week. That will help. Meanwhile, Ellsbury has developed a complication in his recovery and is now scheduled for an MRI on his hip. We can only hope the doctors will tell him it’s time to retire.
The trouble facing Brian Cashman, who is charged with keeping 25 players on the field for each game, is none of the injuries are pegged as long-term. The 10-day DL is as far as the Yankees have needed to go (reliever Ben Heller is the lone exception). So what happens is the team gets stuck in the “let’s wait and see” quagmire, hoping for quick recoveries that may or may not be coming.
Confounding the injuries issue is the general silence of the middle of the Yankees lineup. Besides Sanchez, the so-called Murderer’s Row, featuring Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, is not producing. Watching Judge flail at pitches two feet outside the zone last night only reminded of last July when it seemed like pitchers couldn’t wait to see him step into the box.
He’ll get over it, just as he did last season. And both Stanton and Sanchez are too good to rest peacefully for too long. But the question remains how far the Yankees will fall behind the Red Sox before then?
No one said this would be easy. But no one ever thought it would be this hard, either.