Alex Rodriguez could begin rehab stint this weekend
It appears it’s finally happening. Most of the season the Yankees have been an elite team in baseball. After taking off with a 10 game winning streak during Interleague play, it seemed New York was on its way to an easy division title and home field advantage until the World Series, despite numerous injuries. Now it seems the Yankees have finally been caught in a struggle.
While teams like the Red Sox completely fell apart from their own injury bugs and incompetence, and ball clubs like the Rays distinctly struggled with its best player, Evan Longoria, hurt, the Yankees seemed immune.
When Joba Chamberlain went down with a freak accident on a trampoline, also in Spring Training, not only did his career seem potentially over, but Dave Robertson, Cody Eppley and Dave Phelps all stepped up to fill the void in the bullpen. Now Joba has returned too.
The Yankees have been a resilient bunch. Even with the highest payroll in baseball, teams like the: Red Sox, Phillies, Mets and Angels are proving nothing is guaranteed, regardless of money committed to a payroll. The Marlins found out the hard way spending money before the year stars does not always equate to success either. Add huge amounts of injuries to key players and even less is promised.
In addition to Rivera, Gardner and Pineda, none of whom will likely return this season, New York is still without Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez, and now Mark Teixeira and Nova. Seven key players are hurt for the stretch run. With Pettitte and Nova out, it has meant Garcia and Phelps in. The constant rotation changes seem to finally be wearing on what has been a solid bullpen all year. The magic arms of Eppley and Logan have turned inconsistent, Chamberlain has not yet looked comfortable after missing most of the season and any mistakE. Robertson or Soriano commit seem to get magnified as a result.
The lineup has been punchless of late. Despite hot-hitting from Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano, the Yankees finally seem to be showing they could really use the speed of Gardner and the right-handed power of Rodriguez.
Chavez and Ichiro Suzuki have cooled off, Jones has gone ice cold, Ibanez looks run down, Russell Martin hasn’t hit all season, Granderson has been streaky and guys like Jason Nix and journeyman, Steve Pearce, are being exposed by playing too often.
What was once a 10 game lead is down to 3.5 ahead of Baltimore and four ahead of Tampa. Two teams healthier and nipping at the Yankees’ heels like piranhas. New York is fresh off of losing two out of three to the last place Blue Jays, perhaps the easiest team (outside of the Twins) left on the schedule and also the team who will be faced the most down the stretch.
The Yankees have lost two of three, six of nine, seven of 11 and eight of 13. They went 3-7 from July 28th to August 7th and then won seven of eight before the current 5-8 stretch.
Rodriguez, Pettitte, Teixeira and Nova are all due back before the playoffs. Unfortunately, none of them may return for the next 10 games, which not only could decide home field in the American League, but could also decide the division and maybe even a playoff spot.
The Yankees, who have all but six games remaining against the AL East, spend the next 10 taking on the Orioles (for seven) and the Rays, seven of which come on the road. When the smoke clears, the Yankees will be greeted by a freshly gutted but predictably anxious Red Sox team at Fenway Park and then they play the Rays for three at home. After that, there are no more games against Tampa Bay or Baltimore.
It’s going to take one more stretch run for the Yankees to persevere and find ways to win games, but if it’s going to happen it will have to be done the same way it has all season.
With valuable players missing from the roster.