NEW YORK — Despite coming into Saturday with baseball’s third-best record at 69-39, the New York Yankees have gone through a pitching crisis in recent weeks. Last week the team allowed 73 runs in a seven-game span, the worst seven-game span in franchise history, and they surprisingly did not add any pitching at the trade deadline.
“We didn’t get close to anything,” Cashman said a couple hours after the deadline passed. “But we certainly knocked on all doors and had a lot of ideas and exchange of ideas with clubs in our effort to improve.”
The Yankees have built a 7 1/2-game lead in the AL East despite their pitching woes and despite a barrage of injuries. New York currently has 13 players on the injured list, and the healthy return of several core pitchers will be paramount to the team’s postseason chances.
Here is the latest on the Yankees’ walking wounded, pitcher or otherwise.
Severino close to throwing off mound
Luis Severino, who has yet to pitch this season due to shoulder and lat issues, has started a throwing program and is expected to throw from a mound next Friday. Cashman recently indicated the Yankees will bring Severino back as a starting pitcher. There had been some thought he could return as a reliever.
“I feel the best I have all year right now,” Severino said Friday. “… It’s been a great season for the team so far, and I want to be able to contribute soon. I feel like there’s enough time for me to do it.”
Once he throws from a mound, Severino will have to progress to facing hitters in live batting practice and simulated games, then pitching in minor league rehab games. That all takes time, and it seems unlikely Severino will return before rosters expand on September 1. With the team adding no pitching at the deadline, Severino’s healthy return has become imperative.
Gregorius expected to avoid injured list
Shortstop Didi Gregorius is expected to avoid the injured list, manager Aaron Boone said Saturday. Gregorius is day-to-day with what the Yankees are officially calling a finger strain. More accurately, he bruised a knuckle on his left hand while making a diving play earlier this week.
“Better today. Probably just a backup player (for Saturday’s doubleheader),” Boone said. “Hopefully swing the bat a little bit at some point today, maybe between games get out and take some ground balls. I think we’re encouraged about the improvement we’re seeing today, so we’ll see where we are at the end of the day. I do believe now it is something we will avoid an IL situation. He is day-to-day now.”
Gregorius had Tommy John surgery last October and returned to the Yankees on June 7. Aside from a little rust early on, Gregorius has shown no ill-effects from elbow reconstruction. The current finger injury is one of those fluky baseball injuries that will cost the player a few days rather than a few weeks.
Sanchez nearing return from groin injury
Catcher Gary Sanchez is “very close to being an option,” Boone said earlier this week. Sanchez has been sidelined with a groin strain since July 24 and he has been hitting, running the bases, and catching bullpen sessions in recent days.
Sanchez is eligible to be activated off the injured list Saturday, though obviously that won’t happen. He’s likely to head on out a minor league rehab assignment, and could rejoin the Yankees within a week or so.
Stanton not close to baseball activities
Various injuries have limited Giancarlo Stanton to nine games this season. He has been on the shelf since June 26 with a ligament sprain in his right knee, and while his rehab work is progressing, Stanton has not resumed baseball activities.
“He’s got his range of motion back,” Boone said earlier this week. “The strength is getting there. He’s getting on the treadmill. I would say hopefully he’s getting closer to (baseball activities). He’s definitely improving.”
In addition to the knee injury, Stanton missed two and a half months earlier this season with a torn biceps and shoulder inflammation. He was also hit by a pitch in the knee during a rehab game that slowed his rehab a bit.
Voit receives injection, may need surgery
After being placed on the injured list with a sports hernia earlier this week, slugging first baseman Luke Voit received a cortisone injection and will see how he responds before deciding on surgery. Surgery would cost him six weeks and could effectively end his regular season.
“When I came back (from the injured list) I was really close. I won’t say I was 100 percent, but I felt good enough where I was playing and I could manage it,” Voit said Friday. “Then I think progressively it got worse, and I’m trying to play through it. That’s when some other stuff started bothering me. It’s a weird injury. I’ve never had anything like this.”
Voit initially suffered the injury during the London Series against the Red Sox in late June. He went on the injured list with an abdominal strain soon thereafter, but returned and continued to play through the injury. Voit recently admitted he had trouble getting loose for games and the injury was on his mind as he prepared to swing at the plate.
Sabathia receives two injections in knee
As part of the ongoing treatment for his chronic right knee condition, CC Sabathia received two injections earlier this week. One was a platelet-rich plasma injection to promote healing, the other a standard lubrication injection. Sabathia admitted the pain in his recent starts was a 10 on a 1-10 scale.
“We’ll see how this week unfolds,” Boone said when asked how long Sabathia will be sidelined. “Hoping that it’s sooner though, but we’ll see how this week goes.”
This is Sabathia’s third stint on the injured list this season. He started the season on the shelf following offseason knee and heart surgery, and he missed 10 days in late May when he received his most recent lubrication injection. Sabathia’s knee has been bone-on-bone for several years now.
Betances progressing with throwing program
Like Severino, ace setup man Dellin Betances has not yet pitched this season due to ongoing shoulder trouble. He started his throwing program at the same time as Severino — the two are throwing partners before games — but is coming along a little more slowly. There is no firm timetable for him to return to the mound.
Because he’s a short reliever, Betances figures to need fewer minor league rehab games than Severino, so even though his throwing program isn’t moving as quickly, the two could return at roughly the same time. Given where we are on the calendar, September is the smart bet for Betances’ return.
Loaisiga begins rehab assignment
Righty Jonathan Loaisiga made his first minor league rehab appearance this past Tuesday with New York’s Double-A affiliate. He struck out three in two scoreless innings and reportedly hit 97 mph on the radar gun. Here’s what Loaisiga told reporters, including NJ.com’s Sean Miller, following the outing:
“I knew I had 35 pitches or two innings, but I feel really good,” Loaisiga said through Thunder defensive coach Raul Dominguez. “I wanted to attack the hitters early that way I can use my off speed pitches.”
“I just want to be healthy because when I stay healthy, I can pitch wherever they want. I have been doing a lot of exercises with my shoulder, weight training and lower half. That is what I have been doing and that helped a lot.
Loaisiga came through the minors as a starter — he made three starts earlier this year — but the Yankees have said they will use him as a reliever when he returns. The plan is to use Loaisiga as a multi-inning guy who can lighten the load on the starters. His rehab will move to Triple-A next and he’s likely two weeks or so away from being an option for New York.
Andujar’s rehab going well
Third baseman Miguel Andujar, whose season came to an end on May 21, is doing well during his rehab from shoulder surgery, reports the YES Network. Andujar is expected to be ready in time for spring training.
Reports indicated Andujar was available at the trade deadline, which isn’t a surprise given the emergence of Gio Urshela. That said, Andujar’s value is way down, and the Yankees decided to keep him rather than sell low. They’ll likely let him complete his rehab and get healthy before seriously entertaining trade offers.
Heller resumes throwing following setback
Hard-throwing righty reliever Ben Heller has resumed throwing following his recent setback. Heller had to be shut down with a flexor issue last month. He had Tommy John surgery at the end of spring training last year and is still working his way back.
While likely not an impact reliever, Heller is a solid depth arm for the Yankees, and he could help once September roster expansion rolls around. The Yankees acquired Heller from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade three years ago.
Hale resumes throwing following back injury
Steady swingman David Hale threw Saturday for what is believed to be the first time since being placed on the injured list with a lumbar strain July 28. He is eligible to be activated Wednesday. The Yankees have paired Hale with an opener at times this year and he could be part of their rotation plans down the stretch, at least until Severino and/or Sabathia return.