As the old adage states, “when it rains, it pours.” Unfortunately for fans of the New York Yankees, this maxim has taken on a life of its own this season. The spring expectations for this year’s squad were astronomically high. With the key addition of Gerrit Cole and the promise of a stellar lineup, many predicted that the Bronx Bombers would easily run away with the AL East and cruise towards a World Series appearance. Once it was announced that there would be an expanded playoff field along with a shortened season, Yankee fans were convinced that a 28th championship was all but guaranteed. At the time of this article, the Yankees are currently third in the AL East and only three games above .500. If the season were to conclude today, the Pinstripes would barely make the postseason as the American League’s second wild card. There is a very real possibility that this club’s season will end before the calendar even turns to October. The Yankees’ struggles can be traced back to two lingering problems. This is a team that has historically been unable to stay healthy, and the players who have started the majority of their games are simply unreliable.
Last season, New York was able to embrace the “next man up” mentality to the fullest extent possible. Even with an injury plagued lineup and a subpar rotation, the 2019 Yankees were able to win 103 out of 162 games. Virtual unknowns such as Gio Urshela, Mike Ford, Domingo German and Mike Tauchman were able to make valuable contributions when the team’s stars were unavailable. Last year’s team was indeed elite, but they benefited from having scrappy young players who were willing to do whatever it took to win. This season, the Bombers have had no such luck. Even with their newly minted ace Gerrit Cole, and now trusted veteran Masahiro Tanaka, the rotation has struggled mightily. James Paxton has battled injuries all season, placing a heavy burden on J.A. Happ, who has only recorded two quality starts this season, and Jordan Montgomery, who recently underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018. Offensively, the players who have consistently started have been lackluster to say the least. With the exceptions of D.J. Lemahieu and Luke Voit, the lineup has looked sluggish. Gary Sanchez has only batted .125 and has struck out on 46% of his plate appearances. Once hailed as a doubles machine, Miguel Andujar has only recorded two doubles and has batted a disappointing .220 average. These are two players that must play well, especially while stars such as Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Giancarlo Stanton are recovering from a slew of injuries.
Clearly, this season has not gone according to plan. However, if Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton triumphantly return in time to make a late season push, the sky is still the limit. Before going down, Judge had already cracked nine home runs and was experiencing an MVP season. On the mound, the bullpen is seasoned, and Gerrit Cole and Masahrio Tanaka are a formidable one-two punch in a potential postseason series. Until then, it’s all hands on deck for the active Pinstripes, who will only be able to salvage their season with grit, determination and an unrelenting belief that championship No.28 is only a month away.