- Following Aaron Judge's oblique injury, the Yankees' injured list became more talented than Sunday's starting lineup. Here's what they can expect from their replacement players.
Last week, a baseball diamond illustration featuring the Yankees’ “injured-list lineup” made its way around the Twittersphere. It began circulating shortly after first baseman Greg Bird was placed on the IL last Tuesday, filling the last positional vacancy to complete this "starting" nine.
*Gleyber Torres was given a routine day off on Sunday.
Just how dire has the Yankees’ injury situation has gotten? Brett Gardner hit third (!) for the 10th time in his career (with the other nine times coming in September 2014 when the team was out of the playoff race.) Seemingly irrelevant, hope-we-don't-have-to-play-these-guys-often acquisitions Mike Tauchman and Giovanny Urshela batted where Miguel Andújar and Gary Sanchez did on opening day.
So what can we expect from these new Yankees? And when can we expect members of the all-injured-list team to return? Let's take a look at each case.
SP Luis Severino
What we know: Severino is recovering from rotator cuff tendonitis and a Grade 2 lat strain in his throwing arm. He is not expected back until the second half of the season.
His replacement: Righthander Domingo German has been better than anyone could have expected to start the season. In four games (three starts), he’s posted a 2.37 ERA over 19 innings while allowing nine hits, seven walks and striking out 23. Even if German can’t keep up his 193 ERA+ for the duration of his rotation stay, he is more than capable of giving the Yankees plenty of opportunities to win until Severino returns.
C Gary Sanchez
What we know: Sanchez is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday after playing in a rehab game with Class-A Charleston on Monday. He will catch five or six innings in that start to test the left calf strain that landed him on the IL before being activated.
His replacement: Backup catcher Austin Romine is more than capable of starting when Sanchez is hurt or needs a routine day off. He tied the game with a single in the eighth inning Sunday and walked it off with another knock in the 10th. Kyle Higashioka is the new backup catcher with Sanchez out, and replacement level catcher is probably all you should expect from him.
1B Greg Bird
What we know: Bird is expected to miss four to six weeks with a left plantar fascia tear, the latest bump in his young injury-plagued career.
His replacement: First baseman Mike Ford was the first person to win Ivy League player and pitcher of the year in the same season while at Princeton in 2013. He went undrafted and is not someone the Yankees want to rely on much this year. Luke Voit will be the team’s primary first baseman, with Ford serving as his backup.
SS Troy Tulowitzki
What we know: Injuries derailed the second act of Tulo’s career while he was in Toronto, and he lasted just five games before a left-calf strain landed him on the IL. He’s out until at least the end of the month.
His replacement: Utilityman Tyler Wade was called up to replace Tulowitzki. Wade is a solid defensive infielder and his versatility is an asset. He’s put up strong offensive numbers in the minors and in spring training, but that success has yet to translate in the major league regular season.
SS Didi Gregorius
What we know: Gregorius is recovering nicely from his offseason Tommy John surgery and is on track to return sometime in the second half.
His replacement: Starting second baseman Gleyber Torres has been playing shortstop since Tulowitzki, Gregorius’ original replacement, landed on the IL. Torres is a natural shortstop so the transition for the most part has been smooth. And we all know what he can do with the bat.
3B Miguel Andújar
What we know: Andújar will be rehabbing the torn labrum in his right shoulder in Tampa this week. So far, he’s progressed with little discomfort and is hoping to avoid season-ending surgery. If he doesn’t need surgery, he should return next month.
His replacement: Giovanny Urshela has the reputation of an all-glove, no-hit third baseman, but so far he’s held his own at the plate (.281/.378/.406).
OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton
What we know: The Yankees are encouraged with the progress Stanton (left biceps strain) has made recently. Manager Aaron Boone wouldn’t give a return date for the slugger just yet, but he did indicate Stanton’s return is likely to be soon.
“We’ll see where we are the next couple days with him, and then it could potentially move fast,” Boone said on Sunday. “He’s doing well.”
His replacement: After missing most of 2018 with concussions, Clint Frazier has played up to the top prospect hype this season. With his elite bat speed on full display, Frazier is slashing .339/.358/.661 with six homers and 17 RBIs. The 24-year-old has made the most of his opportunity and will likely remain with the Yankees even when Stanton returns.
CF Aaron Hicks
What we know: Hicks (left lower back strain) also will be rehabbing in Tampa this week. Boone said the switch-hitting centerfielder is “not too far off” from playing minor league rehab games, the last step before returning to the big leagues.
His replacement: Mike Tauchman was all but anonymous when the Yankees acquired him from the Rockies this offseason, but the outfielder showed enough offensive upside for the Yankees’ front office to take a chance with him. After a slow start with New York, Tauchman has been on a tear since he went 2-for-4 with a home run against the Red Sox. He’s slashing .353/.450/1.000 over his last five games.
RF Aaron Judge
What we know: Boone said Sunday that Judge’s right oblique strain is "significant" and provided no timetable for the superstar return.
His replacement: Nobody can mirror the production or presence of Aaron Judge. Sorry, Thairo Estrada. The Yankees called up the infielder because he was already on the 40-man roster and Wade will serve as their fourth outfielder.
RP Dellin Betances
What we know: Betances is expected to be out with a right shoulder impingement until at least early June.
His replacement: Fortunately for the Yankees, they have a loaded bullpen. So far, righthander Joe Harvey has fared well (1.80 ERA in four appearances), but he isn’t the daunting threat for opposing teams that Betances is.
OF Jacoby Ellsbury
What we know: The Yankees gave away his locker in the clubhouse to Urshela.