July 21, 2024

The New York Yankees are in for a difficult few weeks as we approach the summer trade deadline and All-Star break. At this point, the Bombers could use a week off to regroup and refocus after losing key players to injury. The infield has been particularly severely struck, with starters already struggling and some having their worst season.

Challenging Stretch Ahead for the Yankees

Despite these problems, the Yankees continue to lead the AL East, with a 0.5-game advantage over the Baltimore Orioles, who recently won a series in the Bronx. The Bombers have a small cushion, but it might disappear rapidly.

The impending deadline provides General Manager Brian Cashman with an opportunity to enhance several crucial positions. Another starting infielder and reliable bullpen help would be very beneficial to the team. Although reinforcements are on the way, they may not be adequate to address all difficulties.

Bullpen Woes: A Telling Sign of Strain

Recently, the bullpen has been overworked, and its flaws were exposed during a 17-5 loss last Thursday, highlighted by Luis Gil’s performance. It was only a matter of time before the Yankees collapsed and regressed, and it’s better that it happened in June than in September.

 

Luis Gil earns final spot in New York Yankees' rotation

 

This bullpen was once one of the best in baseball, but it is now sinking in the rankings at an alarming rate. Over the last ten games, the Yankees’ bullpen has been among the worst in baseball, declining at a rate they cannot sustain. Even pitching coach Matt Blake is unable to pull his team out of this mess. Despite receiving tremendous value from inexpensive arms each year, this tactic has been unsustainable due to consistent injuries that have reduced their depth. To bolster their roster, the organization has had to add seasoned free agents and claim unreliable players off waivers.

Reinforcements are expected, with Scott Effross beginning his rehab assignment and Ian Hamilton joining the injured list. Cody Poteet may resume a utility role after recovering from a triceps injury. Nonetheless, the Yankees are just attempting to survive until the All-Star break.

Infield Injuries: Testing Team Resilience

Latest timeline on Anthony Rizzo's injury return to Yankees

 

The Yankees have lost three infielders to injuries in recent weeks, including Anthony Rizzo, Jon Berti, and Gleyber Torres, who suffered a right groin injury last Thursday. The severity of Torres’ injury is unknown, but he could be sidelined for several days.

The silver lining is that Rizzo and Torres are both having career-worst seasons, so the decline in productivity may not be huge. Following Gleyber’s departure, Oswaldo Cabrera has taken over at second base, and Ben Rice has played effectively at first.

If Rice continues to perform, Rizzo may struggle to regain his position after his damaged right arm heals. Rice’s ability to make excellent contact and his good eyesight helped him win the Yankees’ Developmental Hitter of the Year title in the minors last season.

However, Cashman should be proactive in obtaining a starting-level deadline acquisition. DJ LeMahieu, with a ground ball percentage approaching 60%, lacks the athletic profile required to consistently hit extra-base hits and may be better suited to a utility role, assisting in the health and fatigue management of the key starters.

Anthony Volpe is having another stellar season at shortstop, hitting.271 with a.328 on-base percentage. Although his on-base percentage has begun to decrease, he consistently makes strong contact and hits for extra bases.

Outfield Depth: A Key to Late Season Strategy

As the regular season develops, the Yankees would benefit significantly from calling up Jasson Dominguez to add depth to their outfield. Unfortunately, Dominguez just suffered an oblique strain, which will keep him out for at least eight weeks and likely delay his comeback until September. Despite this setback, he could still be promoted to help the team in the playoffs, especially since Trent Grisham cannot be counted on for regular offensive productivity.

 

Top Yankees prospect Jasson Domínguez will be out up to 8 weeks from  oblique injury - Yahoo Sports

 

Grisham, who has a.100 batting average in 31 games this year, is a competent defensive player but has regressed offensively over the last three seasons.

Ironically, he might have started for the Yankees last year, but with Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, and Alex Verdugo in the outfield, the team is much better off. However, if any of these players are injured, the Yankees lack the talent to replace even a portion of their production.

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