The season is six days old and we already know for sure something about the 2019 Yankees: they stink. The stench is probably only temporary, but yes, they stink. Losing two of the three defeats in the Orioles (!) And the Tigers (!!) at home (!!!) while not scoring more than three points in four of the six games, it's pretty ugly. It's not really the worst start to the season, but it's close.
There are six games and we have learned other things about the 2019 Yankees in addition to their apparent inability to beat the bad home teams. It can be difficult to determine what is real and what does not happen one week after the beginning of the year. Other times, significant things can be clearly evident. Here are four things we learned about the Yankees in their first six games of the new season.
They have exhausted their depth
The Yankees have had so many injuries this season that I do not know where they will turn if another player should fall. Truly not. This is especially true on the player side. CC Sabathia could be back next week and that means Jonathan Loaisiga will be in Triple-A as an arm in the air. Chance Adams and Joe Harvey are also candidates for the shuttle.
On the side of the players, the Yankees are rather well placed. They have exhausted almost the full depth of their team of 40 people. Adding players to the group of 40 men is not necessarily a problem. Didi Gregorius, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ben Heller are available as injured candidates on a 60-day list. I am referring to the caliber of the online player to call. It's not good. Look who would be the next man with another injury:
- Recipient: Kyle Higashioka
- Infield: Thairo Estrada after a lost season or Gio Urshela
- Outside field: Billy Burns?
For what it's worth, Mark Feinsand Estrada is recalled to replace Troy Tulowitzki. Tulowitzki will become the 11th Yankee on the list of casualties later in the day. And if Greg Bird feels something in his ankle? Or do James Paxton or Masahiro Tanaka go on their annual two-week breathing? The problem of injury could get worst. Aside from Tulowitzki, the guys you were hoping to be injured have not been hurt yet.
After six games and seven days, the injuries are the story of the season for the Yankees. They lost the main players for long periods. They had to call on Clint Frazier, a player considered to need the Triple-A striker, and Tyler Wade, a player deemed insufficient for the opening day's lineup. A scranton. Let's hope the wounds pass and the Yankees stay afloat. Right now, we already know that they are very stretched.
They need outside help
This goes back to the previous point. The Yankees can not sit around waiting for their wounded men to be healthy. Aaron Hicks has still not resumed his baseball activities and Miguel Andujar is potentially considering a surgery to end the season. Even if he avoids the knife, the best scenario of Andujar is in a few weeks before joining the Yankees. Tulowitzki? Would not surprise me if we did not see him again this year.
The last matches showed that there were not many players from Mike Tauchman and Tyler Wade to tie a team. Exchanging for a field player already feels imperative. Someone must hold a full-time position and push Wade on the bench. Todd Frazier? Asdrubal Cabrera? Starlin Castro? There are candidates on the market for the rental pay dump. The Blue Jays are already traders (Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar). Maybe other teams are ready to move the players.
The fact is that the Yankees have been particularly hit by injuries and many of their best players are far from coming back. Keeping with internal replacements is a viable option, of course, but it's not a good solution. The longer the Yankees wait for their guys to come back without additional help, the more likely they will fall in the rankings and make a big climb later this summer. This is evident six games in the year.
Ottavino is the relief of Moment of Truth ™
Even with bigger names and more expensive pitchers in the market, it's clear the Yankees have identified Adam Ottavino as the guy they're looking for on the mound in the most critical situations of the game. Ottavino has played four of the six matches so far and has participated in what can be considered the most favorable time. A summary:
- March 28th: Runner in second place, two outs, Yankees up four to sixth.
- March 30th: Runner on the first goal, two outs, the Yankees lost one in the sixth.
- April 1st: Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera took the start for eighth place, Yankees two.
- April 2: Start of eighth place with Castellanos and Cabrera tied.
The Yankees beat the Orioles very well on the opening day, so their appearance on March 28 was not a very important leverage, but this is the only time in the game that the O have had something to do. Look at these last two games though. Aaron Boone tied Ottavino against the best hitters of the team at the end of the match. Manual rescue stuff.
With Dellin Betances set aside, I assumed Zack Britton would take over almost in the eighth inning almost by default. He had already come closer and he had signed the big contract of winter, and the Yankees love the roles of Bullpen. Instead, Ottavino is seen as the high-leverage guy, either in a fire role at the mid-run, or in confrontation with the best hitters on the team. The rest of the pen falls into place around him.
I imagine that Betances will recover the eighth round role once it will be back and it will be operational again. When he's right, that's one that the Yankees can pitch against three hitters in a tight match. This will free Ottavino from the fire / match work earlier in the game. Until then, there is temporary relief. The intentions of the team with Ottavino are not a mystery after only four appearances.
LeMahieu will go to third
I had the impression that this would be the case. LeMahieu has excellent defense tools (hands, shooting range, arm) and is an intelligent and instinctive player. The only thing missing from the third base is the experience. Even without it, LeMahieu seemed very natural at the beginning of this hot period. He made good games playing on weak ground and going to the right as well as to the left. It's hard to say he's new to the job, is he?
Andujar's injury means LeMahieu will be the man at third base in the near future. It will be at least a few weeks. Let's hope that Andujar's shoulder responds well to treatment and rehabilitation and that he can avoid surgery at the end of the season. Even if he does, he will miss several weeks and the Yankees have a substitute of quality in third base at LeMahieu. Defensively, he can more than manage. LeMahieu has already shown that he is an asset at the corner of the street.