Just like 2019, the New York Yankees are losing players at a record-setting pace in 2020.
That troubling trend continued Friday as three more players were placed on the injured list.
If this were a 162-game season, New York would be well ahead of its 2019 pace, which ended up with a league record 30 different players landing on the IL.
That means, through 25 games this season, the Yankees have had 13 players on the IL. They had an MLB record 30 different players on it in 162 games last season.
— James Wagner (@ByJamesWagner) August 21, 2020
The Yankees managed to overcome those injuries last season, finishing the regular season with 103 wins and an AL East championship. They would go on to lose to the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series.
Now the question is: Can the Yankees overcome the injuries again and play even deeper into October?
Yankees’ star-studded injured list
Like 2019, the Yankees injured list this season is a who's who.
Joining Torres from the everyday starting lineup is Aaron Judge (Calf), Giancarlo Stanton (Hamstring) and D.J. LeMahieu (Thumb). The rotation is hurting, too, with Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) out for the season. Fortunately, the Yankees have received encouraging news on Paxton, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
Hear James Paxton got good news. No Tommy John recommended. Issue is believed to be muscular in nature. #yankees
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 21, 2020
The Yankees' bullpen is also short-handed.
Zack Britton went to the injured list Thursday with a hamstring injury. He joins Tommy Kahnle (Elbow) and the aforementioned Avilan.
On the plus side, closer Aroldis Chapman was able to return this week after starting the season on the COVID-19 list. He allowed one run in his season debut against Boston on Aug. 17.
The Yankees were scheduled to play the New York Mets this weekend. However, that entire series has been postponed out of abundance of caution after a Mets’ player and staff member tested positive for COVID-19. It’s a bit uncomfortable to say, but the Yankees may end up benefiting if those games are made up when the team is in better shape.
How the Yankees survived in 2019
The key was the emergence of several under-the-radar hitters and the resurgence of multiple veteran pitchers, all of whom filled in more than admirably while Judge, Stanton, Severino and several other key players were sidelined.
Offensively, Gio Urshela, Luke Voit and Mike Tauchman all unexpectedly enjoyed breakout seasons deep into their professional careers. On the pitching staff, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Luis Cessa all elevated their game enough to keep New York’s pitching staff steady.
It was a banner season for general manager Brian Cashman, who quietly built the team’s depth through free agency and by wisely grabbing players like Urshela, who ran out of opportunities elsewhere.
It’s always said you can never have enough depth in baseball. The 2019 Yankees showed how true that is.
Can the Yankees survive again in 2020?
They certainly can. A big reason they probably will is the league-best 10-2 start they got off to.
In a 60-game season that’s leading to a 16-team postseason field, the Yankees would need the wheels to completely fall off in order to miss out on October. Even with the injuries, and even after being swept by the Tampa Bay Rays this week, New York is 16-9. That means they are in excellent shape with 35 games remaining.
Like last season, they are also getting big contributions from role players. Voit is among the league leaders with 10 home runs this season. Urshela is third on the team with 18 RBI. And Clint Frazier is off to a hot start replacing Stanton. Through eight games, Frazier is hitting .333 with two homers and eight RBI.
On the pitching side, Chad Green and Jonathan Holder are holding it down in the bullpen with 0.71 and 2.89 ERAs respectively. Oh, and they signed Gerrit Cole. He continues to be an automatic win every fifth day.
The Yankees would obviously benefit from getting the majority of their injured players back. The sooner the better, too. But in a season that has always felt like a crapshoot, even a short-handed Yankees team has a chance to make noise.
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