LeMahieu, Urshela helping carry underdog Bombers
As June begins, if there is one thing to be said about the 2019 New York Yankees, it is that no matter how much adversity or injuries ravage this team, they are a group who not only accept whatever hardships come their way, but they will continue to thrive. Despite numerous key players spending a significant amount of time on the injured list, this continues to be a team that is not only fun to watch, but one that anybody should be afraid to play, regardless of the lack of superstars on the field.
|Photo Credit: Paul J. Bereswill|
The Bombers have suffered a myriad of injuries in the first two months of the campaign. They have had enough talent on the IL in the early going to field an above-average MLB team. Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Didi Gregorius, arguably the three best Yankees from last year’s team, have played a combined 25 games between them. Despite missing that type of firepower in the middle of the lineup (92 home runs last year), the Yankees are 38-20 and have a 2.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League East lead.
One of the most incredible aspects of this early season success has been some of the talent that has carried the team and the impressive job the front office has done finding it. The Yankees’ depth has been tested mightily in the wake of these hardships, and several players have stepped up and led this team to the top of their division. Two of the biggest (and most surprising) standouts are Gio Urshela and DJ LeMahieu.
Urshela, traded to the Yankees last season for cash considerations, was called up to the Bronx in early April after Miguel Andujar suffered what would eventually become a season-ending labrum injury. The former Indian has long had a reputation as a great fielder, but nothing more than a liability at the plate. So far this year, those worries have been silenced, as he has put up an impressive .329 batting average with three home runs and 23 RBIs. Urshela has also had a knack for getting timely hits this season, most notably a walk-off single against the Rays that put New York in first place. The defense, although sparkling, should be no surprise to anybody who had watched him play prior to donning the pinstripes. The Yankees got a spectacular player for next to nothing, a theme that has repeated itself many times in the last several years.
|Photo Credit: Julio Cortez/AP|
LeMahieu signed a two-year contract with the Yankees back in January. A solid player through his first eight MLB seasons, he was seen as a super utility player to help shore up the Yankees infield until Didi Gregorius returned from Tommy John surgery. With injuries to the aforementioned Andujar, as well as Troy Tulowitzki and Greg Bird, LeMahieu has become an everyday player. In that role, he has taken this opportunity and kicked the door down. He has a .311 batting average, as well as six homers and 34 RBIs. He’s also scored 37 times, but, much like Urshela, what might be most impressive is his ability to get hits when the team needs him the most. LeMahieu is batting an astounding .458 with runners in scoring position, which is the second-highest mark in the MLB. His clutch hitting, as well as his solid defense, has turned him into yet another incredible find by the Yankees scouting department.
Even with several injuries to the starting rotation, the Yankees have also received great pitching as a team. They find themselves in the top of the majors in ERA, strikeouts, and batting average against. Arguably the biggest surprise from the rotation has been the success of Domingo German, who leads all pitchers with nine wins. In addition, the other half of the Yankees’ battery, catcher Gary Sanchez, looks like he has regained his rookie season form now that he is finally healthy. He has helped the Yankees maintain torrid power numbers, leading the American League with 18 home runs. His improved defense behind the plate has also kept extra runs from scoring on the base paths.
Simply put, the New York Yankees have tried piecing together lineups to compensate for the injuries that have ravaged the team. Unexpected heroes have seemingly popped up on a daily basis, and the team has received big time performances when they need them the most. While the Yankees certainly can’t wait to have their MVP-caliber players get healthy and return to the lineup, fans should sit back and appreciate the amazing successes of these underdog Bronx Bombers.
Article by: Dan DeGregorioFollow @DanDeGregs Follow @BronxBomberBall