Posted on September 19, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Well, they gave it a valiant effort, but you can just about stick a fork in the New York Yankees; they are all but done in 2016. After getting swept in a four-game series by the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees have now lost five games in a row, a virtual death sentence to their already slim hopes of reaching the postseason. To make matters worse, the Yankees are dealing with even more injuries to key players.
Second baseman Starlin Castro suffered a strained hamstring in Saturday’s loss and could potentially miss the rest of the season. It is only a minor injury, so it’s possible that Castro could return for New York’s final few games of the season, but at this point it’s unlikely that the Yankees will be able to make those games meaningful. Castro has been a solid and consistent contributor this season and his absence over the final two weeks of the season will be noticeable.
In the wake of Castro’s injury, the Yankees called up Donovan Solano, who started at second base in Sunday’s loss to the Red Sox. Ronald Torreyes is also an option, but the fact that the Yankees had to call up Solano in the first place is a sign that the team doesn’t believe Castro will return this season.
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There is also uncertainty about the availability of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury coming down the stretch. Ellsbury bruised his knee Saturday night and was out of the lineup on Sunday while he returned to New York to be examined. Mason Williams, who was only called up when the Yankees lost Aaron Judge to a season-ending injury, played center field in Ellsbury’s place Sunday night.
Ellsbury is officially listed as day-to-day, so there is some hope he will be able to return to the lineup following Monday’s off day. “We’ll see how he feels,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Sunday. “With a bone bruise, we’ll try to get him back as quick as we can, but being a center fielder, you’ve got to be able to run. That’s the bottom line.” The Yankees are already thin in the outfield and may need Ellsbury to play through the injury, even if he’s not at full strength.
There is also some level of concern about third baseman Chase Headley, who missed Sunday’s game due to a stiff back. Headley should be able to return to the lineup on Tuesday, but if he sits as he did on Sunday, it virtually guarantees both Solano and Torreyes are in the lineup, as utility man Rob Refsnyder is now patrolling right field following the loss of Judge.
With 13 games left on the schedule, the Yankees find themselves four games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second wild card spot, with three teams to jump over to reach Toronto. New York’s saving grace is the fact that they have four head-to-head games with the Blue Jays on their schedule, as well as three with the Baltimore Orioles, who hold the top wild card spot just one game ahead of the Blue Jays.
All hope is not yet lost, but the odds are stacked against the Yankees, now more than ever. Still, the manager says the team, as battered and bruised as they may be, will continue to play like they have a chance. “We’re going to continue to fight,” Girardi said. “You have to believe. It’s who we are. You have overcome challenges and adversity and injuries and everything that happens.”