Joel Sherman of the New York Post had an interesting profile today of a Yankees pitching staff at a crossroads (link). After losing Domingo German and Dellin Betances to suspension and injury, respectively, over the past several days, the AL East-champion Bombers find themselves with a pitching picture very much in flux. “I don’t look at it as frustrating,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild told Sherman. “I look at it as a problem to solve. We have to figure out what we are going to do. You would love to have those two guys obviously. But we don’t, so we have to move forward.” As Sherman points out, German’s loss may be particularly impactful, as his multi-inning ability may force skipper Aaron Boone to opt for a 13-man pen in the playoffs instead of a 12-man pen.
11:47am: Per Hoch, the MRI on Torres’s right hamstring came back negative, revealing some good news for the Yankees. Assuming that he continues to feel better in the coming days, Torres shouldn’t be required to miss an extended period of time.
10:14am: Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres, who exited Friday’s game against the Blue Jays with an injury to his right leg after he slipped and fell on the outfield grass, will have an MRI done today on his right hamstring, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. The 22-year-old Torres told skipper Aaron Boone that he felt good this morning, but the team wants to be sure that there wasn’t any serious damage incurred on the fall.
While the Yankees season has been defined by an improbable run of injured stars, Torres has been one of the few regulars that has managed to stay on his feet all year, leading the team with 140 games played. That alone makes it doubly frustrating that the budding star’s health might be compromised so late in the season. However, with Torres citing improvement today and the results of the MRI yet to come, there may well be no reason to panic.
After a fantastic rookie season in 2018, Torres has followed that up with an even better 2019, in which he has slugged 38 home runs. He’s seen his OPS jump to .889 and has even managed to hold his own at shortstop, posting respectable advanced defensive stats in more than 650 innings there. Of course, those metrics are imperfect and ought to be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s nonetheless a surprising development for a player who was forced off of shortstop and only returned as a result of injury.
With the postseason right around the corner and home-field advantage still at stake, another injury scare is surely the last thing the Yankees need in late September. However, one might at least point to the return of Giancarlo Stanton and Luis Severino, along with the impending arrivals of Edwin Encarnacion and Gary Sanchez, as silver linings in the situation.
Another day, another alarming health situation for the Yankees. Second baseman Gleyber Torres left the team’s game against Toronto on Friday after slipping on the outfield grass and potentially suffering an injury to his right knee (video via MLB.com). Torres initially stayed in the game in the wake of his fourth-inning fall, but the Yankees removed him after the sixth. Injuries to stars has been one of the main themes of the Yankees’ season, but they’ve weathered all of them en route to 100 wins and an American League East championship. The Yankees are still playing for homefield advantage throughout the postseason, though, and will obviously aim for a World Series title once the playoffs arrive. With that in mind, New York can ill afford to lose one of the best middle infielders in baseball in the 22-year-old Torres. [UPDATE: Torres “felt a little weak in his lower legs,” manager Aaron Boone told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com and other reporters. He’ll get checked out Saturday.]
This is a high-profile hire for Voit, who’s on the verge of wrapping up his first extensive season in the majors. Voit debuted with the Cardinals back in 2017, but the 22nd-round pick from 2013 has truly blossomed since the Yankees acquired him from the Redbirds just over a year ago.
Now 28 years old, Voit has slashed .273/.385/.482 with 21 home runs in 470 plate appearances this season. The hulking Voit has given New York that prolific production for a minimal salary, and barring an extension, he won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2020 campaign.
In the event a new deal doesn’t come together before Voit’s first arbitration trip, he’ll try for an even better (and healthier) 2020 campaign. Voit has missed a fairly significant amount of time this year with core injuries, which have hurt his counting stats and will also prove detrimental to his cause during arbitration. That archaic process places a great deal of importance on home runs, runs batted in and plate appearances.
Despite the litany of injuries they’ve dealt with this season, the Yankees earned their 100th victory of the season and clinched the American League East on Thursday. Now, with the playoffs looming, they’ve got a couple of injured sluggers on the way back. Designated hitter/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion should rejoin the team on a season-ending road trip that runs from Sept. 24-29, per manager Aaron Boone, while catcher Gary Sanchez could be ready for the Yankees’ Division Series matchup (via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com).
Encarnacion hasn’t played since he suffered an oblique strain on Sept. 12. Those injuries often require players to sit for several weeks (as was the case with Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge earlier this season, for instance), but it appears Encarnacion will come back from his in relatively short order. One of the game’s most prolific sluggers in recent memory, Encarnacion has slashed a respectable .249/.325/.531 with 13 home runs in 197 plate appearances since the Yankees acquired him from the Mariners back in mid-June. He has, however, battled multiple injuries since he first donned the pinstripes, including a right wrist fracture that shelved him from Aug. 4-Sept. 3. The Yankees have rotated Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and Giancarlo Stanton at DH during Encarnacion’s current absence.
Like Encarnacion, injuries have hampered Sanchez on more than occasion this season. He hasn’t played since Sept. 12 because of a left groin strain – the same issue that shelved him for two weeks earlier in the summer. The powerful Sanchez has enjoyed a productive season when healthy, as his .233/.318/.531 line with 34 home runs in 440 PA shows, and is far and away the most talented offensive catcher the Yankees have. Backup Austin Romine has held his own with the bat this month, but the Yankees would obviously prefer to have Sanchez back in the fold come playoff time.
The Blue Jays announced that they’ve claimed infielder Breyvic Valera off waivers from the Yankees and, to create room on the 40-man roster, designated right-hander Ryan Dull for assignment. Toronto claimed Dull himself off waivers from the Yankees just two days ago. He’d yet to pitch in a game for the Jays.
The Yankees claimed Valera, 27, off waivers from the Giants back in May. He appeared in a dozen games for New York and hit .219/.324/.313 in a small sample of 37 plate appearances. The well-traveled Valera has appeared with four different big league teams in the past three seasons, having also spent time with the Orioles, Dodgers and Cardinals in addition to his minor league time with the Giants organization. He was one of the five players the Dodgers sent to Baltimore in last summer’s Manny Machado blockbuster, though it was clear even at the time that Valera wasn’t considered a vital piece for that trade, in which outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz was the headliner.
Dull, 29, has bounced from the A’s, to the Giants, to the Yankees and the Blue Jays via waivers in the past six weeks alone. The righty hasn’t had success in the Majors or in Triple-A this season, but he’s only a few seasons removed from looking like a quality bullpen piece in Oakland. While Dull has been tagged for 17 earned runs through just 11 1/3 innings in the big leagues this year and also has a 5.29 ERA across three Triple-A affiliates, he was one of Oakland’s best relievers back in 2016. That year, he tossed 74 1/3 innings of 2.42 ERA ball with nearly a strikeout per frame and just 1.8 BB/9. He’s since been hampered by shoulder and knee problems, but Dull has some MLB success and a minor league option remaining, so he could still land elsewhere via yet another waiver claim. If not, he’ll be able to elect free agency at season’s end.
Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who was placed on administrative leave under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence Policy, won’t pitch another inning in 2019, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter). That includes both the regular season and the postseason. Olney notes that the case is not yet “fully resolved administratively.” SNY’s Andy Martino further reports that there is a “strong possibility” of a “significant” suspension being issued to German within the next week.
Per Martino, the domestic incident in question involved German’s girlfriend and took place late Monday/early Tuesday after CC Sabathia’s charity gala. Bob Klapisch of the New York Times tweeted yesterday that German had allegedly slapped his girlfriend and that an official from the Commissioner’s Office had witnessed the incident. Martino’s report suggests that it was not an MLB official who witnessed the incident, but the evidence presented to both the league and player’s union was substantial enough that the MLBPA opted not to exercise its right to challenge German’s placement on administrative leave.
The length of any potential suspension for German seemingly has yet to be determined. Prior examples of suspensions under the league’s policy have come with a wide range depending on the severity of the incidents in question. On one end of the spectrum, former Padres left-hander Jose Torres received a 100-game suspension in 2018 following an arrest, and Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera was suspended 85 games earlier this summer under the policy. Meanwhile, Red Sox right-hander Steven Wright received a lighter 15-game ban early in the 2018 season.
The most extreme punishments under the still relatively new policy have both come on the heels of arrests and criminal charges, neither of which exist in the case of German. The very manner in which MLB was made aware of the allegations against German make his case unique, and that lack of precedent makes it difficult to speculate on the duration of a potential suspension.
TODAY: After Betances visited another doctor for a second opinion, Yankees manager Aaron Boone told MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch and other reporters that surgery wasn’t recommended. Betances will wear a walking boot for the next four weeks.
TUESDAY: Yankees reliever Dellin Betances has suffered a partial tear of his left Achilles’ tendon, Jack Curry of the YES Network was among those to report. Betances incurred the injury Sunday in Toronto, per the New York Times’ James Wagner, who adds that surgery’s currently under consideration. The right-hander will go for a second opinion, according to Wagner.
This figures to conclude an injury-ruined season for Betances, a four-time All-Star setup man whose sole 2019 outing came Sunday, when he struck out both batters he faced. Betances missed the first five-plus months of the season as a result of shoulder and lat problems. The soon-to-be 32-year-old’s newest injury could bring to an end a fruitful Yankees tenure for Betances, who’s set to become a free agent after the season. Regardless, it’s safe to say the significant health issues that have haunted Betances this year will tamp down his earning power if he does reach the open market in a couple months.
No matter what the future holds for Betances, this is yet another monumental injury for a New York club that has dealt with one after another all season. While the Yankees have barely received any contributions from the likes of Betances, ace Luis Severino (who made his 2019 debut Tuesday) and outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, and have battled plenty of other injuries, they nonetheless own the majors’ best record at 99-53. The club’s on the cusp of its first division championship since 2012, and even though it’s shorthanded, it’s undoubtedly on a small list of the game’s World Series favorites with the postseason around the corner.
It stands to reason the Yankees would boast an even better record with a healthy version of Betances, who was in an elite class of relievers from 2014-18. The normally durable Betances made no fewer than 66 appearances in any of those five seasons, during which he combined for a league-high 373 1/3 innings of 2.22 ERA/2.26 FIP pitching with 14.63 K/9 against 3.91 BB/9. New York’s relief corps has done well to weather the storm without its premier pre-ninth inning arm this season, evidenced by its overall 4.11 ERA/4.18 FIP, though it’s clearly less formidable without the towering Betances looming.
Relievers Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle have helped fill Betances’ void in front of closer Aroldis Chapman this season. They’ll obviously have to continue their standout work into the fall if the Yankees are going to claim their first championship since 2009.
1:04pm: The Yankees announced that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Michael King to fill German’s spot on the 40-man and active rosters. King pitched 46 innings across four minor league levels in 2019 but hasn’t appeared in a game since Sept. 1.
12:43pm: Yankees right-hander Domingo German has been placed on administrative leave under the Joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence Policy, the league announced Thursday. Details surrounding any allegations against German have yet to surface. The Yankees have issued the following statement on the matter:
We fully support all measures being undertaken by the Commissioner’s Office pursuant to the Policy on Domestic Violence. We support this policy which reinforces that domestic violence has no place in our society and cannot be tolerated. We have followed the lead of Major League Baseball and will continue to provide our complete cooperation throughout the investigative process. We reserve any further comment until the investigation reaches its conclusion. All questions pertaining to this matter should be directed to the Office of the Commissioner.
Players placed on administrative leave are paid during their absence unless a suspension is deemed necessary by the Commissioner’s Office, at which point pay issued during said leave is rescinded. The standard period of length for administrative leave is seven days, although the league can continue to extend that period as required by the status of the investigation as it unfolds.
If German is indeed disciplined, any suspension would leave him on the restricted list during the Yankees’ forthcoming postseason run, marking a costly loss for the AL East champions. German, who turned 27 last month, has given the club 143 innings of 4.03 ERA ball while averaging 9.6 strikeouts and 2.5 walks per nine innings pitched.
Further details on the situation will be provided as they emerge.
Giancarlo Stanton has officially been activated from the 60-day injured list, the Yankees announced Wednesday. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster, the Yankees placed Dellin Betances on the 60-day IL. Betances suffered a partial tear of his Achilles tendon in his first appearance of the 2019 season.
Stanton’s return to the lineup — he’s batting fifth and playing left field tonight — is a more-than-welcome sight for the injury-plagued Yankees. However, Stanton won’t play a full game tonight and will seemingly be eased back into the mix. Manager Aaron Boone told reporters that the slugger will play only four to five innings to get some at-bats under his belt (Twitter link via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). Stanton could play a full game as a DH on Thursday, though.
While Stanton’s first year in the Bronx didn’t quite live up to the MVP standard he set in 2017, he nevertheless proved to be a force in the middle of a potent Yankees lineup. In 705 plate appearances (158 games) last season, Stanton hit .266/.343/.509 with 38 home runs, 34 doubles and a triple. He’s been limited to just nine games in 2019 thanks to a biceps strain and a knee strain, but he’ll now have a couple of weeks to ramp back up to game speed as the Yankees prepare for the American League Division Series. New York has lost Mike Tauchman for the season and isn’t likely to get Aaron Hicks back, either, so Stanton will be in line for regular work in left field with Brett Gardner lining up in center and Aaron Judge manning right field.