There’s no denying the New York Yankees have reached a critical stretch in the season. While they have fallen to 10.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the top spot in the American League East, they still hold a healthy lead in the AL Wild Card race. With the absence of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Yankees will need three players, in particular, to step up and help push the team across the finish line.
Recent reports on Judge suggest that fans will have to wait a little longer to see him action. The wrist injury that has sidelined him for the past few weeks will continue to keep him off the playing field, as he waits for it to fully heal.
Luckily, the Yanks have seen a surge in production from fellow outfielder, Giancarlo Stanton. After struggling to find his footing early in the season during his first year in the Bronx, Stanton has picked up the pace since the All-Star break. Although he may not have the elite MVP stats he had a year ago, he is still having an overall productive season.
Since the break, Stanton is slashing .308/.368/.636 with a 1.004 OPS. In just 71 August at-bats, Stanton has already tied his monthly-high for home runs (8) and has drawn eight walks, three shy of the highest number of walks he has taken a single month, this season. With an extremely easy schedule the rest of the way out, look for Stanton to keep up the hot production over the final month and enter the playoffs on an extremely high note.
As the ace of the Yankees staff, the importance of his performance to the team is inevitably crucial. Although Severino has been having a pretty good season thus far (16-6 3.28 ERA), he has been struggling since the All-Star break. Over his last seven starts, Severino has posted a 7.25 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP. He’s continuing to pile up the strikeouts and limit walks, but opposing batters are hitting him hard and often (55 hits allowed in last 36 innings).
As many know, the Yankees biggest weakness as a team is starting pitching, with that being said, the Yanks could really use as many stellar performances from Severino (and anyone for that matter) as they can get.
The final player that needs to remain consistent over the course of the final few weeks of the regular season is Didi Gregorius. The Yankees’ shortstop started off the season on fire with a .327 batting average, 10 homers and 30 RBIs in the season’s first month.
Obviously, it would be tough for any players to keep up that high level of play throughout the course of the entire season but it showed Gregorius has the potential to really having a major impact in the lineup. Didi getting hot again at the end of the season and carrying it into the postseason could do the Yankees wonders.
There may have been a wrench thrown into those plans. On Sunday afternoon, Gregorius was removed from the game after a collision caused an injury to his heel. Tests came back negative for anything serious, however, he could end up on the disabled list.
If there is a silver lining here, hopefully he just needs a 10-day stint and he can come back, fully recharged and ready to finish the season strong.
It can be argued that any of young players in the Yankees infield (Greg Bird, Gleybor Torres, Miguel Andujar) stepping up down the stretch could really make a huge difference for the team. But with these players previously mentioned stepping up along with Judge and Sanchez coming back, the Yankees could really hit their stride going into October.