Reality Checks and Early Concerns for the Yankees

Eventually, Aaron Boone would find out that New York won’t always applaud him like they did in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS following his famous walk-off home run off of a Tim Wakefield knuckleball.

Often, it becomes a turbulent place where social Darwinism and sports become one. Reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton found that out on April 4th. when a golden sombrero performance marred his debut in the Bronx. The good news is, he came through with a home run in his first at-bat the following game, to which the fans rejoiced as if they had forgotten about their jeers from the previous night.

Currently, the Yankees have sustained injuries to these players: Jacoby Ellsbury, Clint Frazier, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks, Billy

McKinney, Brandon Drury, and C.C. Sabathia, along with Ben Heller. They face Baltimore for a series finale on Sunday afternoon, where they can hopefully settle for a series split at two games apiece.

Gary Sanchez also got hurt on Friday night, but it was reportedly just a cramp, and he was left out of the lineup on Saturday for precautionary reasons.

Boone has faced criticism for his management of the bullpen, some justified and some unwarranted. Dellin Betances has no business being involved in a close game at this point right now, as he has completely lost control of his pitches and has regressed with shambolic mechanics. Others, like Chad Green, closer Aroldis Chapman, Chasen Shreve, Adam Warren, and Tommy Kahnle have been fine, but overused. David Robertson and Jonathan Holder have been awful thus far.

Boone has also raised some eyebrows over his conservative approach with the rotation, as only one Yankee starter (Luis Severino)has gone past six innings this season. The rotation has been one of the best in baseball through eight games, as it ranks seventh in FIP and fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

That said, the season is young, as the Yankees are a mere eight games in. A series against the Red Sox looms, beginning on Tuesday. Since dropping their game on Opening Day, the BoSox have won six straight and currently sit in first place in the AL East. Aaron Hicks should be back in the lineup by then, and that will prove to be pivotal.

What about the unsung hero of the Yankees, Sir Didi Gregorius? Thus far, the fan-favorite shortstop leads the majors in OPS (1.479), wRC+ (304), wOBA (.597), and already has one win above replacement. It is still baffling that Brian Cashman only had to relinquish Shane Greene for this man.

Thankfully, Didi’s Wonderboy-esque bat has overshadowed a tremulous defense that currently ranks just 13th in defensive runs saved and 22nd in revised zone rating (a measurement of the proportion of balls hit into a fielder’s zone that are successfully converted into outs). Yankees fielders have also committed the most errors in the bigs (eight) behind only the Brewers.

Of course, it is so early in the season that numbers are unreliable to measure a team to this point. But make no mistake, the Yankees injuries are forming a mountain that is rivaling the summit of Everest, and they remain a mediocre defensive team with a bullpen that has been incredibly underwhelming so far.

Naturally, there remains ample time to get it right. The Yankees have won five of eight to this point, and hopefully six of nine by the end of Sunday. We can only hope the injuries act opposite to Didi at the plate.

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