Playing just 15 games in 2013 after season-ending wrist surgery, Mark Teixeira suffered a hamstring injury right out of the gate and was placed on the DL on April 5. Though Tex is back leading the team with 17 home runs and 47 RBIs before last night's game against the Orioles -- which ended too late for this edition -- the Yankees' injury woes were just beginning.
Closer David Robertson was put on the DL two days later, followed by Francisco Cervelli on April 14. The starting pitchers then caught the bug, as Ivan Nova would learn of his partially torn UCL, electing Tommy John surgery that is set to sideline him for the remainder of the season. Michael Pineda was next, beginning the season with a 1.83 ERA in four starts before suffering a strained back muscle, which landed him on the 15-day DL on May 6. The 25-year-old was later moved to the 60-day DL, nursing a sore shoulder as well, and is reportedly not expected to return until mid-August at the earliest.
In the midst of some rocky outings in which CC Sabathia built a 5.28 ERA in eight starts, the former AL Cy Young winner joined his fellow starters on the DL, delivering yet another punch to the Yankees' already depleted rotation. The inflamed right knee swelled up after Sabathia's second rehab start a couple weeks ago and manager Joe Girardi said it was "fair to say" his season could be over.
The final blow?
Masahiro Tanaka was placed on the 15-day DL last week with elbow inflammation, following the worst start of his major league career. The Japanese import, who the Yankees deemed worth $175 million, is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA this season. The happy exception to a pitching staff stymied with injuries, his dominance has single-handedly kept the Yankees from a losing record, and only four games behind the Orioles entering last night's game in a weak AL East.
But on Wednesday, an MRI showed that Tanaka has a partial UCL tear which will take at least six weeks to heal. He could end up choosing Tommy John surgery, which normally takes about a year to recover from.
New additions and the captain
The Yankees looked to remedy last year's October absence with offseason acquisitions to bolster the lineup. Despite being paid like All-Stars, the trio of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury will not be playing in the Midsummer Classic. Before last night, McCann was hitting .230 with 10 home runs and 39 RBIs in 81 games while Ellsbury's six homers, 41 RBIs, 24 steals and .282 average are well below the production of his standout 2011 season that a $153 million dollar contract over seven years was hoping for.
Carlos Beltran has played in just 61 games, spending time on the disabled list in mid-May due to a bone spur in his right elbow. The Yankees placed the 37-year-old on the 7-day concussion list last week after a ball hit him in the face during batting practice, breaking his nose. He is hitting .216 with nine homers and 28 RBIs.
Meanwhile, Derek Jeter, in his 20th and final season, is hitting .271 with two homers and 25 RBIs in 82 games. The Yankees will need a big second half from their captain if they want to avoid missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.