On Tuesday, the Bombers will face their division rivals on the road in (already!) their third series of the season. New York is 1-5 in the six games so far, with three more on deck.
The only difference this time? One of the Yankees’ best players could be back after missing the start of the year because of a knee injury.
That’s right. Luke Voit is on the mend and tearing it up at Triple-A during his rehab assignment. Manager Aaron Boone said he could be activated for the start of the three-game set.
We’ll admit, it’s tremendously frustrating the Yankees have so far been unable to put the Rays in their place at the onset of 2021. After all, Tampa’s roster got significantly worse and New York has largely been at full strength with the exception of a few guys.
Perhaps Voit’s return can move the needle, make the middle of the lineup even more difficult to navigate for opposing pitchers, and the Yanks can walk away with a convincing series win.
Will Yankees first baseman Luke Voit return against the Tampa Bay Rays?
This will also be Voit’s first legitimate action since he guaranteed an ALDS Game 5 win over the Rays back in October. That one ended in a 2-1 loss for the Yankees, who were sent packing while Tampa made a run to the World Series.
Nonetheless, given the deficiencies of the Yankees’ lineup and the struggles various hitters have endured, Voit’s presence could elevate others around him. He already looks like he’s in midseason form despite the layoff and last year’s home run king is going to add another elite obstacle to one of the top offenses in the league.
In Voit’s place, Jay Bruce, DJ LeMahieu, Mike Ford and Miguel Andújar have gotten reps at first base. Though DJLM’s presence hasn’t made the lineup worse necessarily, Rougned Odor has taken over at second base when Boone’s made that decision, and though Odor has been solid, he’s still no Voit. As for Bruce, Ford and Andújar, it’s clear Voit’s an unmistakable upgrade that could very well flip the famous switch that fans have been waiting to see.
Not only that, but his energy and vocal leadership will help keep the rest of the roster in check when droughts begin to rear their ugly head. Voit’s importance to the Yankees cannot be understated and the timing of his activation couldn’t come against a better opponent.
A rebound series against the Rays is a must if the Yankees want to regain their mental edge.