An unfortunate outcome in sports is that injuries determine how a team performs. Boston Red Sox fans are acutely aware of this, as are the fans of every MLB team. Every spring training, the injuries list seems to expand exponentially, and for the New York Yankees, this spring has not been a harbinger of good times regarding injuries, especially pitching, which I will focus on.
Invariable for Boston fans and Yankee fans, it all comes down to the two teams. Forget the Jays, O's, or whoever that other team is in the division; it is all about the Yankees (and Red Sox). For both parties, it develops into a schadenfreude moment of wallowing in the misfortune of the other.
Yankees projected rotation continues to suffer bad news
The key is always pitching, and the Yankees have or did have an abundance of it. The bad news started with righty Frankie Montas who the Yankees acquired in a trade last August. Montas underwent shoulder surgery and is projected for a mid-season return—optimism at its best. In a "why us?" moment, the Bombers also picked up righty Lou Trivino in the deal, and naturally, Triveno will open the season on the IL.
The Yankees went big in the free agent market and signed Lefty Carlos Rodón to a six-year, $162 million contract. Rodón has a UCL muscle strain and is projected to miss 2-3 starts. This is one worry point for Yankee fans as a UCL and muscle strain often migrate into further complications.
Nestor Cortes became a solid rotation piece for the 99-win Yankees in 2022; the hammy has hit the righty. Cortes will probably start the season watching for the rightfully cautious Yankees. No need to rush the 12-4 All-Star.
In 2019 right-hander Tommy Kahnle was a solid bullpen piece for the Yanks, appearing in 72 games before moving to Tommy John Surgery and a long road back. Kahnle signed back on the Pinstripes with a two-year deal, and now a biceps issue has surfaced. Kahnle is expected back by mid-April.
A few years ago, I had righty Luis Severino pegged as a Cy Young Award winner until whatever increasingly appears to be an obligatory Tommy John Surgery. This spring, Severino is hopefully rounding into a return to pitching prominence. Usually, there are performance bumps, and Severino may be in for some rough starts before getting back on track.
Injuries and poor personal decision-making have derailed the career of Domingo Germán. The righty who won 18 games in 2019 attempts to resurrect his professional career and cleanse his abhorrent individual behavior, and both may be a struggle.
What New York does have is Garrett Cole leading the rotation and a solid bullpen. In 2022 the Yanks finished fourth among AL rotations and third in the bullpen rankings. Even with projected downtime, I anticipate only changing if Cole takes a Chris Sale bike ride.
Expect Yankees staff to still be a top five in AL at seasons end
What injuries do is offer opportunities where none existed. Step right up right-hander Clarke Schmidt (5-5, 3.12) in 2022 for the Bronx team. Schmidt has never tossed 100 innings in a season, so this may be cautious territory for the former first-round pick (16th).
The Yankees farm system has a few quality pitching prospects, but they have yet to surface on the Top 100 list. That does not preclude a trade of prospects for an established starter or adding payroll based on another team's salary dump. The Yankees will not be shy since the Astros are the target, as they are for every AL team.
As a Red Sox fan, I am not enthusiastic about another team's injury complications, even if it is the NYYs. The Yankees have suffered an excessive number of injuries, both pitching and nonpitching, but I do not see it as fatal. Now if Boston can avoid a similar plague.