The New York Yankees have won six of their last eight games and scored 20 runs in their last two games combined against the Tampa Bay Rays. However, they are still missing a few essential players in the batting order, which is both good and bad news for a team that has faced of adversity since after the All-Star break.
The Yanks are currently without two starting infielders, DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo. The latter of the two is expected to make a comeback in a few next few days, but LeMahieu is still dealing with a big right toe injury that has hampered his ability in the batter’s box.
In fact, DJ hit a measly .211 with a 27.6% on-base rate in the month of August and started off September with 12 at-bats failing to record a hit and walking just once. His numbers have fallen off a cliff since the injury became more prevalent, but the Yankees placed him on the 10-day injured list to help him recover and receive substantial treatment before the final stretch of games.
- Yankees refuse to call up surging prospect in Triple-A
- Yankees gearing up to return $11.5 million bullpen signing
- Former Gold Glove winner and Yankees’ reserve outfielder opts for free agency
The Yankees are expecting DJ LeMahieu back sooner rather than later:
LeMahieu expects to return next week, having already enjoyed eight days of treatment following his last performance against Tampa Bay on September 4.
“That’s my plan, yes. And our plan, sort of,” said LeMahieu. “We haven’t picked a set date yet. But I think sometime next homestand would be the target.”
It was hard to tell in live action how much his toe was limiting his fundamentals. DJ indicated that he was unable to rotate his back foot when swinging, which severely clipped his production.
“It just got to a point where I wasn’t even rotating at all [on my back foot],” LeMahieu said. “I can deal with that [in the field]. That’s manageable. It is what it is. But when I can’t be myself and can’t hit, I’m not doing anyone any favors by just being a body out there.”
Manager Aaron Boone is optimistic that DJ will make a return and produce at his normal efficiency, but they are taking things slowly and with caution.
“Just kind of see how he’s doing, what treatments they’re able to do,” Boone said before Sunday’s game. “Are there some that give him that relief that he needs? It is going to be fluid with him of how he responds to things.”
On the year, LeMahieu features a .262 average with a 35.8% on-base rate, including 12 homers and 46 RBIs. He’s already hit the most home runs since his 2019 season, the first he spent with the Bombers. His batting average is down a bit, but he’s walking at 12.4% this season, the highest number in his career.
A healthy DJ LeMahieu is the difference maker in the playoffs, and if the Yankees continue to win games without him, they can afford to give him ample time to rest and recover.