The American League East has dominated the head-to-head record against other divisions this season. The majesty of the East is evident in the district standings. First-place Tampa Bay (36-15) is the best team in the American League, but both fourth-place Boston (26-24) and fifth-place Toronto (26-24) have winning percentages over .500.
Boston and Toronto have the same record as American League Central leader Minnesota. That’s how tight the race is. The New York Yankees (30-21), the most prestigious franchise in baseball, are also out for blood. They’re three games behind second-place Baltimore and 3.5 games behind Boston and Toronto.
If they were at full strength, they’d be in position to make a run, but they’re not. The team is missing key, highly paid players due to injury. While the team has been doing well by bringing up players from the minor leagues, it has been plagued by frequent injuries to players who are essential in the 162-game race.
One of the players who has been the centerpiece of the Yankees’ frustration is left-hander Carlos Rodon, 31, who was a big free agent acquisition before the season. A left-handed fireballer with a powerful delivery, Rodon signed a six-year, $162 million contract with the Yankees before the season. Considering the state of the starting pitching market, it was a bargain.
Rodon is a Class A lefty who has started 55 games over the past two years, going 27-13 with a 2.67 ERA. When healthy, he was expected to be the team’s lefty ace, but health is an issue. An injury-prone pitcher throughout his career, Rodon has yet to make his debut in a Yankees uniform this season due to a back injury. Rodon’s salary this year is around $27.83 million. He’s about to lose nearly half of that.
Rodon has been receiving injections that have alleviated much of the pain in his back. But he hasn’t even thrown a full rehab game yet. “My back doesn’t hurt anymore,” Rodon told local media. “I just want to get back as soon as possible, and I want to help the team as soon as possible,” he said, but he didn’t give a specific timetable for his return. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t able to pitch out of the bullpen.
After pitching in the bullpen, if all goes well, he’ll make a minor league rehab assignment and then come up to the majors. Given the time to build up his pitch count, it could take another month or so. In that case, the first half of the season is effectively wasted. The Yankees’ plan for a potent one-two punch with Gerrit Cole is off to a rocky start.
It’s not just Rodon. Giancarlo Stanton, 34, one of the league’s leading home run hitters, is also struggling with the stigma of being a “glass house. Stanton hit four home runs in his first 13 games of the season, but a left hamstring injury derailed him. He was placed on the disabled list on April 17 and hasn’t played in over a month. Again, Stanton hasn’t played a rehab game, and even if he were to make it to the majors right away, it’s likely he’d need some time. Stanton is due $32 million this year.
Former MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson, 38, is also on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring after playing just five games this season. His performance has been on the decline, and he hasn’t been able to help the team with his health. He recently joined a minor league team for a rehabilitation game, but it will take some time for him to regain his form. 먹튀검증
Donaldson, who is in the final year of his contract, is also making $21.75 million this year. The three players’ combined salary for this year is $81.58 million, and they’ve only played a combined 18 games between them. The Yankees’ sighs are deepening.