Injury Bug Continues to Plague Yankees in 2020
Updated: May 10, 2020
Spring training has just begun, and the New York Yankees already have their worst fears realized. James Paxton, Luis Severino and Giancarlo Stanton have all suffered injuries that will cause the stars to miss significant time.
Prior to the start of official workouts, it was deemed that left-hander James Paxton needed back surgery to correct an injury that he had originally suffered at the end of last season. The club initially announced that the surgery would likely prevent Paxton from returning to big-league action until June, however, it has since been revealed that The Big Maple could return in May.
The Yankees would gladly welcome the early return of their 15-game winner, particularly because former ace
Luis Severino will miss the entire 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on February 27. The injury comes just a year after Severino only appeared in three regular-season contests, as a result of shoulder and lat muscle injuries.
Losing two key members of the pitching staff has left many concerned regarding New York’s chances at their 28th World Series title. Pitching has been the biggest weakness of the club over the past few seasons and will continue to be a struggle amidst this string of injuries. However, manager Aaron Boone has faith that his club will be able to overcome the adversity.
“We’re good,” Boone told reporters after the Yankees first win of the spring. “We’ve got a lot of good pitchers. We’ll kind of figure it out. It’s an opportunity, obviously, for more and more people to kick the door in and take advantage of an opportunity.”
Just a day after Severino’s devastating news, slugger Giancarlo Stanton suffered his second left-calf strain since joining the Yankees. The injury puts Stanton’s Opening Day chances in jeopardy and puts the former MVP under even greater scrutiny from the critical Yankee fanbase. Stanton also missed nearly the entire 2019 season with a variety of ailments.
Losing three key pieces prior to the season is crippling for any team, but will prove to be even more difficult for a club that is just one season removed from setting the record for the most injuries in a single season. Despite losing 30 players to the injured list (38 stints), the 2019 New York Yankees won 103 games and took home their 19th AL East title.
The club’s “next man up” mentality acted as a rallying cry that propelled the Bronx Bombers to dominate the AL East. It appears that the 2020 Yankees will have to adopt a similar mindset, as their backs are already against the wall with less than a month until Opening Day.
The recent injury news has put the Yankee Universe in a frenzy, fearing that their productive offseason will go to waste. Despite these key losses, the Yankees have many talented players to fill these voids.
As far as pitching is concerned, the Yankees will look to newly acquired ace Gerrit Cole, to dominate until reinforcements return in May and June. The right-hander is coming off of arguably the best season of his career, in which he led Major League Baseball with 326 strikeouts and an AL-leading 2.50 ERA.
Cole will be followed by veterans Masahiro Tanaka and JA Happ, however, decisions are yet to be made as to who will follow Happ’s slot. Many believe that Jordan Montgomery will assume the fourth slot, but the left-hander will have to prove that he is back to full strength after his return from Tommy John surgery. Montgomery has posted a respectable 3.91 ERA in 37 career appearances.
The Yankees have an array of arms to choose from for their fifth slot. They could re-adopt the “opener” strategy that they utilized frequently in 2019. The club recorded an 11-4 record when using Chad Green as their opener. Their success with this strategy may prompt them to open games with a reliever, prior to the returns of James Paxton and Domingo German.
If the team decides to go with a conventional starter to round out their rotation, they could choose from prospects Deivi Garcia and Michael King, as well as veteran Chad Bettis.
Garcia and King have impressed in their four minor league seasons, posting 3.37 and 2.91 ERAs respectively, in their professional careers. However, their lack of experience leads many to believe that the organization will opt to give them more time to develop.
Bettis also raises a question mark, as he struggled in the 2019 campaign. The right-hander notched a 1-6 record along with a 6.08 ERA, in 39 appearances for the Colorado Rockies.
The club will have an easier decision to make when it comes to replacing Giancarlo Stanton. The Bronx Bombers have two impactful outfielders returning this season, as Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman will be given another opportunity to make their mark in New York.
The Yankees will likely open the season with Tauchman in left field, as they are in need of left-handed bats in their order. Brett Gardner is currently the only lefty that has solidified their spot in the lineup. Tauchman used Yankee Stadium’s short porch to his advantage in 2019, as he hit seven home runs in limited at-bats in the Bronx.
Stanton’s injury also makes it increasingly likely that Clint Frazier will make the Opening Day roster, in some capacity. Frazier has been knocking on the door for the past few seasons, as he has impressed on the offensive side of the ball. Frazier hit 12 home runs, while driving in 38 runs in 2019.
The only aspect of Frazier’s game that is holding him back is his defense. He made three errors in the outfield, which proved to be costly for New York in multiple contests. This factor also gives Tauchman an edge, as he excelled roaming left in 2019.
While the Bronx Bombers are left with many questions prior to Opening Day, there is still tremendous optimism surrounding the 2020 New York Yankees. The club’s mix of veterans and newcomers will certainly make headlines while resuming their “Chase for 28.”