The Yankees head into their rubber match with the Angels as winners of six in a row and nine of their last 11. And they did all of that with a makeshift lineup.
The New York Yankees came into the season with lofty expectations, and rightfully so after a somewhat poor postseason that saw them getting bounced in four games by the eventual World Series champions Boston Red Sox.
Things took a turn for the worse before the regular season even started. Luis Severino was scratched from a Spring Training start, and what seemed like a minor injury has turned into him being transferred to the 60-day IL on Thursday afternoon. Aaron Hicks suffered a back injury that seemed minor at first, but it’s now April 25 and he’s yet to even start a rehab assignment, although he is reportedly close.
Between the start of the regular season and today, a total of 13 players are now on the IL for the Yankees. An Opening Day lineup that consisted of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar (among others) has now been decimated to the likes of Mike Tauchman and Mike Ford, and infielder Tyler Wade has been shifted to left field.
If the Yankees had just rolled over and let this seemingly insurmountable number of injuries do them in, nobody would blame them for using it as an excuse. When’s the last time we’ve seen a team suffer so many injuries to the point where they don’t have any position players left to call up?
They didn’t fold, though. The Yankees limped into Anaheim and are on the verge of a four-game sweep of the Angels before heading to the Bay to take on the San Francisco Giants. Now suddenly what has essentially been a Triple-A roster is 1.5 games back of the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays, and that’s not a good sign for the rest of baseball.
If this lineup is going to scratch and claw their way to six victories in a row, then that forces every man that comes off the IL to bring the same intensity every night. There’s no excuse now, because their replacements have proven they can produce, and a starter can be replaced at any moment.
The starting rotation has picked up its production to the tune of a 1.72 ERA with a 0.93 WHIP, which is second in baseball to only the San Diego Padres over the same span. Those numbers include the five runs CC Sabathia gave up on Wednesday night in the Yankees’ come-from-behind victory.
The Yankees could have rolled over early due to all the injuries but they didn’t. And when they get to full strength later this season, the rest of the league could be in a world of trouble.