2019 New York Yankees
2019 New York Yankees / Franchise: New York Yankees / BR Team Page
Managed by Aaron Boone
History, Comments, Contributions
After winning an even 100 games in 2018, big things were expected of the 2019 New York Yankees heading into the season. However, the team had been surprisingly quiet in the off-season, with the main acquisition being starting pitcher James Paxton, acquired from the Seattle Mariners in return for prospects, and IFs D.J. LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki both signed as free agents. The real news was that the Yankees had not made a serious play to acquire either of the two top names on the market, OF Bryce Harper and IF Manny Machado.
The major early concern for the Yankees was injuries. These began even before spring training as it became clear that SS Didi Gregorius would not be available until mid-season. He was soon joined on the injured list by other names, including two starting pitchers, Luis Severino and CC Sabathia, who had announced this would be his last season, and reliever Dellin Betances. While they were expected not to miss extensive time, the next injury, to CF Aaron Hicks, was more serious. It provided an opportunity to keep both slugging first basemen, Greg Bird and Luke Voit on the roster to start the season, with the one not starting at first base being used as the DH. The Yankees opened the season at home against the lowly Baltimore Orioles and - lo and behold - managed to lose two of the three contests. But worse news came on April 1st, when two more players were added to an increasingly crowded injured list: LF Giancarlo Stanton and 3B Miguel Andujar. For Stanton, it was a strained biceps and was likely to be only a short-term issue, but Andujar's injury, announced as shoulder strain, was likely a labrum tear which would mean a lost season if he were to undergo surgery. With pressure mounting for the Yankees to trade for reinforcements, they decided for the time being to turn to replacements within the organization, with IF/OF Logan Wade and OF Clint Frazier being called up from the minors, soon joined by IF Giovanny Urshela. The Yankees then lost two of three against the Detroit Tigers, and in the last game, on April 3rd, it was Tulowitzki who went down, victim of an ankle injury. They made it above .500 for the first time on April 7th, with a record of 5-4, thanks to a 15-3 demolition of the Orioles in which C Gary Sanchez hit three homers and drove in six runs. However, on April 12th, Sanchez was the latest player to go on the injured list, with a calf strain, the list having now swollen to 12 names. Worse, the news regarding Ps Severino and Betances was not good, as what was originally expected to be a brief stay would likely stretch for many weeks for both, so that Sabathia's imminent return was just a minor consolation. On April 16th, it was Greg Bird's turn to go on the list and the next injury, on April 20th, really hurt, as OF Aaron Judge had to leave a game in the 6th inning with an oblique injury and was immediately sent to undergo an MRI. On April 25th, it was Frazier's turn to join the IL - the 15th player to do so - with a sprained ankle. He had been doing very well filling in the outfield, hitting .324 with 6 homers and 17 RBIs in 18 games. With the minor league cupboard bare by this point, the Yankees acquired veteran Cameron Maybin to have another warm body to play the field. On April 28th, LeMahieu and Urshela both had to leave a game against the San Francisco Giants, the first because of inflammation in his knee and the second after being hit by a pitch on his hand. Yet, in spite of resembling a M.A.S.H. unit, the Yankees were playing very well, ending the day at 17-11. Fortunately both players were available for the team's next game, on April 30th. The Yankees lost that game to finish the month at 17-12.
May seemed to be a copy of April at first, as on May 3rd, Paxton joined the ranks of the injured with inflammation in his knee, but the next day, Andujar, who had been feared lost for the season, was back in the line-up. That did not last long, though, as he did not hit at all in his few games back, and the Yankees soon threw in the towel, announcing he would undergo season-ending surgery to repair the labrum tear that had been bothering him all season. In a move smelling of desperation, they added 1B/DH Kendrys Morales, who at 36 had already flunked out of Toronto and Oakland this season, but in spite of this constant flow of bad news, their on-field play was stellar. On May 17th, Urshela keyed a three-run rally in the bottom of the 9th against the Tampa Bay Rays for a 4-3 win. That put the Yankees in first place ahead of Tampa Bay by a half-game for the first time since Opening Day. On May 22nd, they were 30-17 and had been on a 24-8 run since April 16th. It helped that they had already played 12 games against the lowly Orioles, but they had played well against everyone they had faced, in spite of the injuries. By sweeping a doubleheader from the Kansas City Royals on May 25th, the Yankees made it 7 straight wins with another player not on the radar in spring training, Chance Adams, picking up his first major league win in the nitecap.
The Yankees made a trade to acquire DH Edwin Encarnacion from the Seattle Mariners in early June, then got back both Stanton and Judge within a span of a few days, shortly after Gregorius had returned as well. This cost OF Clint Frazier his job - he was sent to the minors in spite of having hit .283 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 53 games, but it had the Yankees looking unbeatable. They reeled off 8 straight wins starting on June 15th. On June 24th, they tied a record belonging to the 2002 Texas Rangers with a homer in their 27th straight game; Hicks and Stanton, with his first of the year, did the honors in a 10-8 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Awards and Honors
- Pete Caldera: "Panic? Optimism? Here are the New York Yankees after a disappointing dozen games", USA Today, April 11, 2019. 
- Gabe Lacques: "How the Yankees have stayed red-hot through all the devastating injuries", USA Today, May 22, 2019.