For a team that has the third best record in baseball, not a whole lot seems to be going right for the New York Yankees these days. The Yankees were swept at home by the Rays earlier this week, and their 2019 injury problems have carried over to 2020.
On Friday the Yankees announced three players will be placed on the injured list: LHP Luis Avilan (shoulder inflammation), LHP James Paxton (forearm flexor), and SS Gleyber Torres (Grade 1 left quad and hamstring strains). The Yankees now have 10 players on the injured list. Here are the other seven:
- LHP Zack Britton (hamstring strain): No timetable for his return yet.
- C Kyle Higashioka (oblique strain): No timetable for his return yet.
- OF Aaron Judge (calf strain): Could return as soon as next week.
- RHP Tommy Kahnle (Tommy John surgery): Done for season.
- 2B DJ LeMahieu (thumb sprain): Will miss another 2-3 weeks.
- RHP Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery): Done for season.
- DH Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring strain): Will miss another 2-3 weeks.
New York its without its starting middle infield (LeMahieu and Torres), top two power hitters (Judge and Stanton), No. 2 starter (Severino), and two top setup man (Britton and Kahnle). Last season the Yankees sent an MLB record 30 different players to the injured list. That prompted them to overhaul their training staff after the season. Doesn't seem to have helped much.
On the bright side, manager Aaron Boone told reporters Saturday that Judge will be in the lineup when the team returns to action early next week, according to ESPN's Marly Rivera. "He looks good. He looks ready to go. I expect that when we return he will be there," Boone said. .
Torres suffered his injury running out a ground ball during Thursday's game. He stumbled on his way to first base, though it's unclear whether the stumble caused the injury or the injury caused the stumble. Boone told reporters, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, that Torres is expected to miss 2-3 weeks. Here's the play:
With LeMahieu and Torres sidelined, the Yankees will turn to reserves Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade on the middle infield. Both are young and have ability, but are unproven at the MLB level. Putting Miguel Andujar at third base and Gio Urshela at either second or short is a possible. The Yankees have veteran infielders Matt Duffy and Jordy Mercer at the alternate site.
Paxton started Thursday's game and held the Rays hitless through four innings before the wheels came off in the fifth inning. He complained of elbow tightness after the game and was sent for an MRI. Boone told reporters, including Newsday's Erik Boland, that Paxton will be shut down 14 days, though his elbow ligament is intact and Tommy John surgery is not a consideration.
Paxton had back surgery in February and completed his rehab on schedule in May. He was a full participant in Summer Camp,, and now he's out with an arm injury. When a guy who usually sits 95-99 mph comes out throwing 91-94 mph, pretty good chance something's up, and that was the case here.
Clarke Schmidt, New York's top pitching prospect, was impressive in spring training and summer camp and could get the call to replace Paxton. Other options include swingman Michael King and righty Jonathan Loaisiga, though the latter has assumed a more high-leverage bullpen role since Kahnle's injury. Righties Nick Nelson and Miguel Yajure are other possibilities.
The Aug. 31 trade deadline is only nine days away and the Yankees figured to be in the market for pitching help (both rotation and bullpen) even before Britton and Paxton got hurt. GM Brian Cashman will surely increase those efforts now. The Torres injury could push the Yankees into the infield market as well.