Yankees COVID-19 + injury updates
After another crushing defeat in the Field of Dreams game last night, the Yankees and White Sox are off on Friday as they travel to Chicago to complete their three-game series. Let’s use the off-day as an opportunity to check-in on the Yankees’ laundry list of injured and COVID-afflicted players.
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The ‘Yankee Variant’ COVID IL:
Coined by Gerrit Cole on the FOX broadcast last night, the Yankees have been dealing with COVID-19 issues since just before the All-Star Game last month. To this point, Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, Nestor Cortes, Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela and Kyle Higashioka have all contracted the virus, spent time on the IL, and since returned (Urshela injured himself upon returning and will be mentioned later in this article). Currently, the Yankees have five players out with COVID-19 positives, some closer to a return than others:
Gerrit Cole & Jordan Montgomery
Both Cole and Montgomery are close to returning, and both have returned to the team after having to quarantine with positive tests late last month. Cole and Montgomery spent time tossing at Cole’s home in Connecticut this week before rejoining the team for the road trip to Dyersville and Chicago. The Yankees plan on slotting Cole back into the rotation early next week without any rehab starts, but it’s unclear if they’ll do the same with Montgomery. The rotation has been a mess of late, necessitating bullpen days and three mediocre-to-awful starts from newcomer Andrew Heaney. Getting two of their best starters back should give this unit a much-needed shot in the arm
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Sanchez joined the COVID ward a few days after Cole and Montgomery were placed on the IL, which has forced Kyle Higashioka into everyday action in his place. Sanchez hasn’t torn the cover off the ball this year, but has gone through some hot streaks, and his bat is certainly a better everyday option than Higgy’s. He also has the most rapport with the pitching staff, so getting Gary back adds both length to the lineup as well as helps the pitching staff as a whole. No update has been provided on Sanchez other than he has begun hitting off a tee and an ETA is not yet available. I would anticipate he’ll miss at least another three-to-five games before returning.
Holmes was the latest Yankee to hit the COVID IL this past week as he started experiencing symptoms before triggering a positive test. The Yankees haven’t updated on Holmes’ status for a few days now, so the assumption is the test came back positive, or else he would have already returned to the active roster. I can’t imagine they haven’t gotten the test results back at this point. Holmes struggled a bit in Kansas City, but showed a lot of promise in the series against Seattle and the Yankees need as much help in the bullpen as they can get right now. Expect Holmes to be out for at least another seven-to-ten days.
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Perhaps the biggest loss to the COVID IL outside of staff ace Gerrit Cole was recent acquisition and fan-favorite Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo made an immediate impact upon joining the Yankees but was soon put on the shelf with a positive COVID-19 test. The team has not provided any update on Rizzo, and Luke Voit was activated to take his place, but the Yankees need Rizzo back as soon as possible before they start falling out of the playoff picture. Since Rizzo was on record as being unvaccinated, it’s not clear how long he’ll experience symptoms or how much more time he’ll miss.
While the Yankees have been battling COVID-19 all season, the injury front hasn’t been any kinder to them, as they’ve set a franchise record for IL stints in 2021. A number of key contributors are currently out of action, as well as some reinforcements who haven’t made their way back yet.
The Yankee closer was placed on the 10-day IL on Saturday with what the team called “elbow inflammation”. Always concerning for a hard-throwing pitcher. The good news, however, is that the MRI came back clean and the team believes Chapman might only miss the minimum 10 days before returning.
After returning from COVID-19, Urshela soon injured his hamstring and had a recent setback before he was due for a rehab assignment. Since hamstrings, like calves and obliques, are notoriously tricky, it’s unclear when Urshela will be ready to return, which hurts all the more after another injury to a fellow Yankee starting infielder…
Gleyber Torres, while not exactly tearing the cover off the ball, had just started to show some signs of life at the plate, hitting .393 with an OPS of .923 in the month of August before his thumb strain. The Yankees haven’t announced the results of Torres’ MRI, but if it revealed a torn ligament (UCL comes to mind), it would have been a season ender. Instead, the currently ETA on Torres is late August. And that might be generous. For now, the Yankees will have to get by with Tyler Wade and Andrew Velazquez.
German was shut down after a short outing in Miami last month – a start immediately following a game in which he carried a no-hitter into the seventh in Boston – and hasn’t returned since with what the team is calling “shoulder inflammation”. I would imagine we won’t see Domingo again until September at the earliest. Thankfully, the Yankees have enough options in the rotation once Cole and Montgomery return, as well as a familiar face we haven’t seen in a few years…
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I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Sevy is close to a return! Severino was on the return trail earlier in the summer, however, he injured his groin in a rehab start that delayed his return almost two months. Now, he appears on the doorstep to finally making it back, most recently starting for AA Somerset in a game the Patriots combined for a staff no-hitter. Severino is set for one more rehab outing and then could be activated for the Red Sox series at home next weekend.
Other injury notes:
· Corey Kluber (right shoulder strain) is currently on a rehab assignment with AA Somerset. Kluber looked on track to be a solid top-of-the-rotation arm earlier in the season prior to landing on the IL. In his first action, he got bombed to the tune of five earned runs in just 1.1 innings of work. Yikes
· Mike King (right middle finger contusion) remains on the 60-day IL
· Clint Frazier (vertigo/dizziness) is currently rehabbing with low-A Tampa and went 2-for-4 in his first game action
· Chris Gittens (right ankle sprain) is currently rehabbing with AA Somerset
· Miguel Andujar (left wrist sprain) has not yet started a rehab assignment
· Clarke Schmidt (elbow; flexor strain) was recently activated off the 60-day IL and optioned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after brief stops at Tampa and Somerset along the way. In four rehab outings he’s thrown 12.1 innings, issuing seven hits, four earned runs and has struck out 14 batters.