Yankees: A look at how they’ve been able to overcome all the injuries

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MAY 21: Clint Frazier #77 of the New York Yankees celebrates his three RBI home run with Gleyber Torres #25 and Aaron Hicks #31 against the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 21, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MAY 21: Clint Frazier #77 of the New York Yankees celebrates his three RBI home run with Gleyber Torres #25 and Aaron Hicks #31 against the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 21, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

After a supplemental offseason, the Yankees likely thought their team was a guarantee for the postseason and beyond. Now, just two games over the Rays for first place in the AL East, the Yanks look to have a long season ahead of them.

Devastated by the injury bug, the Yankees have had to piece together a makeshift lineup to scrape together 30 wins. And yet, the Yanks have not only survived with their sandlot team but thrived.

With long-term injuries to many of their starters including Didi Gregorius, Luis Severino, Greg Bird, and Dellin Betances, not to mention season-ending surgery for Miguel Andújar, many thought the Yankees would need to have an impressive second half to make up for their losses.

But even the plethora of short-term injuries to the likes of Aaron Judge, James Paxton, Giancarlo Stanton, Troy Tulowitzki, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Hicks hasn’t slowed down this Bomber team.

First place in the toughest division in baseball hasn’t come easy. Contributions from all players were required to get this far, especially from many of the younger Yankees called up to fill in.

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Most notable are the supplements from third baseman Gio Urshela, who’s finally gotten his everyday chance in the big leagues. Urshela’s .343/.395/.481 slash line has helped push the Yanks towards more than a few wins this season. The 27-year-old is hitting line drives 31 percent of the time while exhibiting the highest hard-hit rate of his brief career, almost 45 percent.

But Urshela’s not the only new face in the Bronx that’s contributed. Rookie infielder Thairo Estrada also sports a batting average above .300 while matching Urshela’s home run total of two.

Clint Frazier is also getting significant playing time in the depleted Yankee outfield; although his batting average isn’t that of Urshela or Estrada, he’s knocked in some runs, 23 to be exact, and he’s hit six home runs.

And the usual contributions from starters not on the IL has aided the supposedly crippled Yankee lineup. Luke Voit has continued his hot hitting from last season, although not to the same extent, of course.

Voit’s home run total of 11 is second on the team to Gary Sanchez’s 14. A nice change of pace for Sanchez who’s coming off a very poor 2018.

Only around a month into the season and Sanchez is already nearing his home run total of 18 from last season, not to mention an over 60 point jump in batting average, showing Sanchez’s approach at the plate is vastly improved.

Although Sanchez is striking out at a personal worst 27.3 percent, the Dominican Republic native is back to hitting line drives at a similar rate to his rookie year; the only difference is that he’s also lowered his ground ball rate, cutting his usual 40 percent-plus rate, down to around 18 percent.

Lest we forget the stellar pitching from a rotation that, on paper, looks a bit lacking. Veteran C.C. Sabathia has his ERA under three for the first time since 2008! The adjustments Sabathia’s made with age and history of injuries is arguably the most impressive improvement of this Yankee team.

Masahiro Tanaka, as well, is getting the results he deserves after two less than expected seasons. With his home run rate on the decline since 2017, his ERA rose to 4.74 — Tanaka’s been able to limit the opposition rather well.

And of course, Domingo German’s 0.976 WHIP ranks seventh in the MLB among qualified starters, helping him to first in wins with nine.

Then there’s the bullpen, which has had its fair share of screw-ups this season, is led by flamethrower Aroldis Chapman and Brooklyn native Adam Ottavino, both of whom have been utterly dominant.

Throw in contributions from former Orioles closer Zack Britton and the return to form by Tommy Kahnle, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a relief corps.

Many of these producing players have seen so much early success due to their opposition, or lack thereof. The Yankees have one of the easier schedules through the first 50 games of the season, which has only helped them in a time of need.

Playing Baltimore the week is just one example. In fact, in their first 50 games, the Yankees will have played the Orioles 12 times, a number which could have been 14 had inclement weather not postponed two earlier contests.

The Orioles ended last season with a .290 winning percentage and currently sport the second-worst record in the MLB. However, the Yanks continue their stretch of weak opponents after this week’s series against the O’s with a second series in Kansas City this weekend.

Uncommonly, the Yanks do not play within the division too often to start the season with the exception of the Orioles — having only played the rival Red Sox twice in their first 50 games, the Rays six times and not playing the Blue Jays until game 60, the rigorous AL East has not impacted the Yanks’ season too much.

Don’t trust early season records? That’s fine; when facing teams above .500, the Yankees run differential is just +13 runs compared to their +45 against teams below .500.

This easy early-season scheduling comes at a cost as this means their schedule only gets more difficult as the season persists. Nonetheless, this helps the Bombers as they’ll hopefully have some starters return to the lineup in the coming weeks as the schedule becomes more troublesome.

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With substantial contributions abroad, the Yankees have handled the injury bug well thus far but will need the return of many key players to continue to have success this season and the battle for first place in the division.