The New York Yankees projected a powerhouse lineup to begin the 2019 season but all that was derailed by injuries up and down the potent cast. While it is anyone's guess when Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius return, there have begun a slow dribble of returning players such as Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar. And perhaps this weekend might see the return of Aaron Hicks. Such returns are not always good things.
Teams get into a sort of rhythm with regular games occurring nearly every day. This group of Yankee scrubs have been playing together for a while and have gelled and have given Yankee fans unexpected thrills along the way.
Suddenly that flow gets interrupted when a player returns. Gary Sanchez is probably an exception to that statement because he is so much better than the alternatives. But others have to shake off the rust, may take a while to get going and could under-perform the scrubs who have been playing regularly.
Miguel Andujar is a strong case in point. Last year, Andujar arrived with a bang. He has come back from the DL with a whimper. He started a couple of games at third forcing Gio Urshela back to the bench. The result might have led to that loss to the Twins. He has started in the field three games and has made three errors, shown limited range and hasn't hit his weight.
How is Aaron Hicks going to start when he rejoins the Yankees? Will he show obvious signs of rust? Will he start slowly at the plate? Those are the risks that occur when you replace a guy who is in the flow of things with a guy with better talent coming back from an injury. Who will the Yankees send down when Hicks returns? Will it be Mike Tauchman who has held his own at the plate (around one bad slump) and has played a terrific outfield? Or will it be Thairo Estrada, who has also shown good leather plus a good bat and is much more versatile than Andujar?
What I am trying to say here is that a return of regulars does not always push immediate buttons and sometimes leads to a bit of a downturn in on-field performance until the returnees get settled in. If you want to read more, Chris Carelli wrote a good perspective on some problems that develop like this in his SNY piece today.
In other thoughts, losing James Paxton for three weeks to a month might be the most damaging of all the injuries the Yankees have suffered thus far. Paxton was developing into the Yankee ace he was expected to be. The slack left by Luis Severino has been picked up by Domingo German. But nobody is going to bring what Paxton brings to the Yankees. Last night's lopsided loss was a testament to how much that loss hurts.
The loss of Dellin Betances has been felt all season as the Yankees seem to be one arm short all the time in the bullpen. If Paxton was to miss more time than a month, the rotation would have an equally harmful hole and necessitate Brian Cashman to lose prospects to bring in another starting pitcher.