The New York Yankees open the regular season on March 28. Unfortunately, they will begin the season without many of their best players.
Starting center fielder Aaron Hicks is currently dealing with a lower back injury. He is feeling better, but he will miss the opening series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Starting pitcher Luis Severino is slated to return in May because he is dealing with a sore shoulder. The ace’s absence will be felt, especially since the Yankees do not have a lot of starting pitching depth to begin with.
A few days ago, reliever Dellin Betances was diagnosed with a right shoulder impingement. He will most likely be placed on the injured list and will not be available to pitch for the foreseeable future.
In addition to these major injuries, starting pitcher CC Sabathia will not be available until mid-April as he recovers from heart surgery. The Yankees will be without five major contributors for the opening portion of the season.
The Yankees’ youngsters must step up and do whatever they can to fill the voids left by the injured stars. Middle infielder Gleyber Torres will need to play multiple positions in the first few months of the season while Gregorius is out. He will rotate between shortstop and second base and will inject some power into the lower third of the Yankees batting order. Torres was selected to the American League All-Star team as a rookie. He hit 24 home runs in 123 games last year.
Outfielder Clint Frazier may make a few starts while Hicks gets a few final days of rest. Frazier missed most of last season while dealing with lingering concussion symptoms. Hicks may not miss much time, but back injuries can be tricky. Frazier must make the most of his big-league opportunities because the Yankees have a pair of star corner outfielders in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
Luis Cessa and Domingo German may get a few starts apiece while Severino and Sabathia are unable to pitch. Both Cessa and German have pitched well in Spring Training, but neither of them has had sustained success in the major leagues. The Yankees could decide to have Cessa and/or German serve in the role of “long reliever” if they decide to utilize “bullpen day” strategy that the Tampa Bay Rays made famous last season. In the case of a bullpen day, Cessa or German would just need to go four or five innings in order to give the Yankees a chance to win.
Relief pitcher Stephen Tarpley will probably make the Opening Day roster in place of Betances. Tarpley will be at the bottom of the depth chart, but that does not mean that he will not pitch in high-leverage situations. There could be some games that go to extra innings, and Tarpley’s pitching could be the difference between winning and losing those games.
The Yankees need to get off to a good enough start so that they keep pace with the leaders in the tough American League East. The Boston Red Sox, who won 108 games and a World Series title last year, are the three-time defending AL East champions. The Rays won 90 games last year and will be tough to beat in 2019. The Toronto Blue Jays and Orioles may be rebuilding, but they will be looking to knock off the Bronx Bombers whenever they get the chance. Torres, Frazier, Cessa, German, and Tarpley must contribute in the early going if the Yankees want to keep pace in the AL East.
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