The New York Yankees don’t need their starting infielders to walk away with victories these days, even when their bullpen is struggling considerably to get the job done. Prior to Sunday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, which the Yankees fell 10–9 in a slugfest, manager Aaron Boone indicated that Isiah Kiner-Falefa was dealing with a left hamstring issue.
Kiner-Falefa had been an extremely reliable option at shortstop for the Yankees all season, and luckily, his hamstring issue isn’t considered to be anything serious. He was available to come off the bench on Monday. The Bombers wanted to give him rest now instead of potentially aggravating the injury further. The Yankees sit 12 games above Toronto for first place in the AL East. They also have a six game cushion over the New York Mets in all of Major League Baseball, affording the luxury of being extra cautious with injuries.
“He’s pretty encouraged about how he feels,” Boone said before Monday’s game against Tampa. “I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to be long term.”
IKF is performing well this season despite not hitting a homerun over 228 plate appearances. He does, however, host a .273 average with a 32% on-base rate and 18 RBIs. While he doesn’t walk a whole lot at 6.6%, his 15.4% strikeout rate is nothing to be concerned about, a metric the Yankees have been plagued by in recent years.
In fact, IKF has been tremendous with runners in scoring position, hitting .308 with runners at first base and .313 with runners at first and second. He doesn’t have a batting average below .250 with runners on base in general, indicating his success rate. He’s also served valiantly at the bottom of the order, hitting .278 in the seventh slot and .289 in the eighth slot.
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Boone loves his utility pieces:
To supplement Kiner-Falefa‘s injury, the Yankees have called upon Marwin Gonzalez to fill the void. Gonzalez is hitting .231 this season with a 29% on-base rate, including one homer and five RBIs. Offensively, he’s nothing to write home about. Marwin is a solid defender who can play nearly every infield spot and feature in the outfield.
“Marwin can sit over there for a week wherever you put him, whether it’s the outfield or shortstop,” Boone said before the game. “It’s a luxury to have a guy who can play shortstop like that. You know he’s going to go out there and look the part. He’s certainly done that for us through this point in the season.”
Gonzalez has made appearances at third base, shortstop, left field, and right field this season for the Bombers. His numbers at shortstop are solid, featuring a perfect fielding percentage over 67.2 innings. At the very least, he offers the Yankees consistent defensive play. He has his moments in the batter’s box as well, especially as a switch hitter.