The injury-plagued Yankees using suspended season to heal
Before Spring Training even started in 2020, the New York Yankees were looking at another repeat of an injury-plagued season.
Last year, the Yankees broke the record for most injuries in a single season with 38 separate entries to the injured list (IL), but the organization still managed to be one of the best teams in baseball. They were lucky to have players like Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman step up and produce career-best numbers.
While the injuries did not seem to affect the Yankees as much as everyone thought, there was an obvious hole in the pitching rotation last year that might have cost the team a trip to the World Series. This problem seemed to be solved when general manager Brian Cashman signed star pitcher Gerrit Cole to a massive contract earlier in the offseason. All eyes were on the Yankees going into the 2020 season, but just after the Yankees acquired one of the best pitchers in baseball, the injuries started to pile up.
The injury list started in February with news of James Paxton’s back surgery, which was going to sideline the lefty strong arm at least until the middle of May. Next fell Luis Severino, who missed almost all of last season but rallied for a postseason run. The young star had successful Tommy John surgery in late February and is out for the rest of the season. The pitching rotation for the Yankees now consists of Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery, and J.A. Happ, which leaves a question mark for the last spot in the rotation once again.
Unfortunately, the injuries did not end there, as Aaron Judge aggravated a stress fracture in one of his ribs which limited him all Spring Training and put his readiness for Opening Day in jeopardy. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who played a total of 18 games last season, was diagnosed with a Grade 1 calf strain which he suffered during his long injury stretch in 2019.
Due to COVID-19, the MLB has delayed Opening Day which was originally scheduled for March 26th. For all baseball fans, players and staff, this news was upsetting, but there is some upside with the delay of the season for the Yankees organization.
The delayed start of the season allows a majority of the injured Yankees to heal up and be ready for the “new” Opening Day. Paxton is expected to be good-to-go around the middle of May, which will greatly help the Yankees rotation. Judge will hopefully be ready for the start of the season, as he is considered day-to-day with his injury. Judge recently told the media that his rib fracture is healing and his collapsed lung has fully healed. A recent CT scan revealed that Judge’s injury has shown slight improvement since it was originally diagnosed and the doctors will look at the injury again in two weeks.
According to Brian Cashman, Stanton would have been ready to play sometime in April, which makes a season debut on Opening Day, whenever that may be, very likely. Centerfielder Aaron Hicks had Tommy John surgery in October and was expected to be out eight to 10 months, but with the delay of the season, Hicks will miss less time and play more games for the Yankees this year.
The MLB has not decided how the season will be be played out with the delayed start. They have floated the idea of playing a shortened season, but perhaps with multiple doubleheaders a week, which may be a good experiment for the league. Even though many players have expressed interest in doubleheaders, more games played at a faster rate could cause more injuries and stress on the players.
While COVID-19 has not brought many positives in the sports world, the Yankees will be at least one team that benefits from the time off.