The Yankees are being exposed in 3 major ways

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are facing a grueling few weeks as we approach the summer trade deadline and the All-Star break. At this point, the Bombers could benefit from a week off to reset and recalibrate after losing several players to injury. The infield has been particularly hard hit, with the starting-level players already struggling, some in the midst of their worst season.

Challenging Stretch Ahead for the Yankees

Despite these challenges, the Yankees continue to hold the top spot in the AL East, maintaining a slim 0.5-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles, who recently secured a series win in the Bronx. The Bombers have a slight cushion, but it could vanish quickly.

The upcoming deadline presents General Manager Brian Cashman with an opportunity to strengthen several key positions. The team could particularly benefit from another starting-level infielder and legitimate bullpen support. Although there are reinforcements on the way, they might not be sufficient to resolve all issues.

Bullpen Woes: A Telling Sign of Strain

Lately, the bullpen has been overtaxed, and its vulnerabilities were fully exposed during a 17-5 defeat last Thursday, highlighted by Luis Gil’s performance. It was only a matter of time before the Yankees experienced a collapse and regression, and it’s preferable that it happened in June rather than in September.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

    Once one of the top bullpens in baseball, this unit is now plummeting in the rankings at an alarming rate. Over the past ten games, the Yankees’ bullpen ranks among the worst in baseball, deteriorating at a pace they can’t maintain. Not even pitching coach Matt Blake can steer his way out of this disaster. Despite getting exceptional value from inexpensive arms annually, this strategy has proven unsustainable due to consistent injuries that have eroded their depth. The team has been compelled to sign veteran free agents and pick up inconsistent players off waivers to bolster their staff.

    Reinforcements are expected, with Scott Effross starting a rehab assignment and Ian Hamilton heading to the injured list. Cody Poteet might resume a utility role upon his return from a triceps injury. Nonetheless, the Yankees are essentially trying to persevere until the All-Star break.

    Infield Injuries: Testing Team Resilience

    The Yankees have lost three infielders to injury in recent weeks, including Anthony Rizzo, Jon Berti, and Gleyber Torres, who sustained a right groin injury last Thursday. The severity of Torres’s injury is yet to be determined, but it could sideline him for several days.

      The silver lining is that both Rizzo and Torres are experiencing career-worst seasons, so the drop in production might not be significant. Oswaldo Cabrera has stepped in at second base following Gleyber’s departure, and Ben Rice has performed well at first base.

      Jun 6, 2024; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo (48) reacts after being hit by a foul ball during the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
      Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

      Should Rice continue to excel, Rizzo might struggle to reclaim his position once his fractured right arm heals. Rice’s ability to make solid contact and his good vision underscore why he won the Yankees’ Developmental Hitter of the Year award last season in the minors.

      However, Cashman should be proactive in securing a starting-level deadline acquisition. DJ LeMahieu, with a ground ball rate nearing 60%, lacks the athletic profile needed to regularly hit extra-base hits and might be better suited for a utility role, helping to maintain the health and manage fatigue of the primary starters.

      Anthony Volpe is having another standout season at shortstop, maintaining a Gold Glove-caliber performance and hitting .271 with a .328 OBP. Though his on-base percentage has started to decline, he consistently produces quality contact and extra-base hits.

      Outfield Depth: A Key to Late Season Strategy

      As the regular season progresses, the Yankees would greatly benefit from calling up Jasson Dominguez to add depth to the outfield. Unfortunately, Dominguez recently suffered an oblique strain that will sideline him for at least eight weeks, likely delaying his return until September. Despite this setback, he could still earn a promotion to assist the team during the postseason, especially since Trent Grisham cannot be relied upon for consistent offensive production.

      MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
      Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

        Grisham, who has managed only a .100 batting average over 31 games this year, is a solid defensive player but has been regressing offensively for the past three years.

        Ironically, he might have been a starter on last year’s Yankees team, but with Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, and Alex Verdugo currently manning the outfield, the team is in a much better situation. However, should any of these players sustain injuries, the Yankees lack sufficient talent to replace even a fraction of their production.

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