Yankees: How will the return of Luke Voit affect Mike Ford?
Luke Voit is set to make his return off the IL on Friday after missing the last month with a sports hernia. The Yankees are excited to have him back but it will be interesting to see how his return will affect the red-hot Mike Ford.
The Yankees have had the next man up mentality all season long and Mike Ford is the latest example of that. After the injuries to Voit and Edwin Encarnacion, the 27-year-old was finally given the chance to play every day at the big league level and over the past couple weeks, he’s certainly made the most of his opportunities.
Outside of maybe Aaron Judge, Ford is the hottest hitter in the Yankees lineup right now. Over his last 10 games, he’s batting .428 with 5 HR and 7 RBI. Four of those home runs have come against left-handed pitchers. He’s now hitting .440 against southpaws and seven of his nine home runs have come against them. That’s extremely impressive, especially for a rookie.
Despite his success of late, Ford could see him playing time limited in the coming days with Voit set to be activated off the IL prior to Friday night’s game against Oakland. His roster spot is safe and will be for the rest of the season with rosters expanding on Sunday, but the Yankees aren’t bringing Voit back into the fold just to sit him on the bench.
Before Voit got injured he was having a very solid campaign hitting .278 with 19 HR, 54 RBI, and a .885 OPS. He’s earned the right to get consistent at-bats the rest of the way, which means it’s going to be hard for the Yankees and Aaron Boone to find a way to get Ford into the lineup as well. Voit also swung the bat extremely well during his four-game rehab stint with Triple-A Scranton hitting .471 with two HR and four RBI so he’s ready to go.
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Voit will play a lot but he probably isn’t going to play every day during his first couple of weeks back because the Yanks don’t want to risk him re-injuring himself like he did the last time he came off the IL. He’ll likely get a couple of days off a week and on those days Ford will play whether that’s at DH or first base. However, when Voit is in the lineup Ford isn’t going to play that much because they also have to make sure that DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela are in the lineup.
Now for the next few days, we could see both Ford and Voit in the lineup and DJ at first base because Gio left Wednesdays game early with left groin tightness. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like an IL situation and with all the depth the Yankees have there’s no need to rush him back. That being said once Gio is ready to return he’s going to play as well and Ford will likely be the odd man out once again.
Ford didn’t do anything wrong to deserve a decrease in playing time but that’s just the reality he’s about to face. If he was a 10-year veteran or he’d been with the team all season and put up the numbers he’s been putting up lately it would make Boone’s lineup decisions a lot more difficult. It really just goes to show how deep this Yankee roster is offensively because no matter who is in the lineup we know they’re going to produce and put the team in a great position to win.
It’s an embarrassment of riches and we haven’t even mentioned the impending returns of Encarnacion, Stanton, and Hicks. Once those guys come back this roster is going to become even more dangerous and crowded and more players who are currently on the roster are going to be on the same boat as Ford is moving forward.