6. New York Yankees (43–37, plus-104, LT: 6)
Yes, Tyler Clippard deserves lots of blame for the recent rough patch that knocked the Yankees out of first place in the AL East. But the Bombers also face multiple question marks in the infield, all of which won’t be easy to solve.
At third base, Chase Headley went from a red-hot start to becoming one of the most punchless hitters in the league, a condition which, when combined with his advanced age and feeble offensive output, should have the Yanks scrambling to find a replacement. Trouble is, would-be replacement (and top Yankees prospect) Gleyber Torres is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last month. A similar problem exists at first base, where Chris Carter’s gone from being a three-true-outcomes player to more of a one-true-outcome guy, with that one outcome being strikeouts. He too might’ve been out of a job by now, except that top first-base prospect Greg Bird is also fighting injuries, in Bird’s case an ankle injury that could sideline him until August.
The latest setback has become between those two positions, at second base. Eight seasons into his major league career, and several years after most of the baseball world wrote him off as an early-career performer who wasn’t likely to hit much from now on, Starlin Castro stormed out to a monstrous start in 2017. Then his numbers started drying up, until it was finally revealed that he’d been fighting a wrist injury for six weeks, a condition that finally required a cortisone shot to fix. Then from off the top rope came a hamstring injury that knocked Castro onto the DL, forcing yet another Baby Bomber (22-year-old rookie Tyler Wade) into action.
The hope is that Wade, along with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and just-landed callup Clint Frazier excel in their new opportunities. Still, the Red Sox are finally playing the brand of baseball that most expected coming into this season. Even if the Yankees’ youngsters keep mashing, carrying black holes at both outfield corners might leave New York looking up at Boston for the rest of the season. You have to imagine a trade (or two) is coming soon.