In order to hit the dominant Rays rotation, the Yankees need a lot of firepower on offense. Last season the Yankees set a Major League record with 30 players hitting the injured list. The previous record was 28, set by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016.
Despite missing their two biggest bats for a significant amount of time last season, the Yankees still had enough juice to finish first in the league in runs scored. Players like DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, and Brett Garnder stepped up and made huge impacts.
Brett Gardner made the full transition from a speedster to a power-hitting, grumpy old man. Gardner smashed 26 doubles, seven triples, and 28 homers to go along with 10 steals in his age-35 season.
Aaron Judge only played in 102 games but did slam 27 dingers and slugged .540.
The Yankees had a ridiculous nine players slug over .500. That does not include Troy Tulowitzki who slugged .545 in just five games.
So, the Yankees are an intimidating force on offense, but they already find themselves facing injury woes this spring. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are both ailing and neither will likely be ready for Opening Day. In fact, as of yesterday, the Yankees still do not know what is wrong with Judge’s shoulder.
Stanton may only miss a week or two, but Aaron Hicks could miss the entire season, depending on his recovery from Tommy John.
Aaron Hicks is a very important player to the Yankees. There’s a reason they signed him to a seven-year extension last offseason.
With Opening Day rapidly approaching, the division-rival Yankees are showing once again that money can’t buy healthy players. They are looking at an Opening Day outfield of some combination of a 36-year-old Brett Garnder, Mike Tauchman, Miguel Andujar, and Clint Frazier. Do you think Charlie Morton is shaking in his boots over that?
While German is serving the remainder of his suspension and Paxton is working his way into shape, the Rays have an opportunity to get out to an early lead. On paper, the front office has improved the offense with the additions of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Hunter Renfroe, and Jose Martinez.
It should be an interesting race this season as the Rays bring an upgraded offense with the top bullpen from 2019 and a loaded rotation.