When you’re the best team in baseball it’s hard to fret over too many things coming out of the all-star break, but the Yankees have a tough road ahead of them as they chase the franchise’s first World Series since 2009.
New York’s American League team entered the break with a back-to-back drubbing of the Boston Red Sox in an emphatic message to the rest of the league. The Yankees get thrown right into the fire to start the second half of the year with a doubleheader against the Houston Astros right out of the gate and a date with the New York Mets next week.
While the Yankees may be riding high right now, there will be plenty to keep an eye on once play resumes on Thursday. Here are a few storylines of note for the second half of the season.
Yankees deadline dealings
Will Juan Soto be in Yankee pinstripes? Will Luis Castillo be brought in to help the Yankees pitching staff? These are the questions facing the Bronx Bombers and general manager Brian Cashman with the MLB Trade Deadline rapidly approaching. Soto is obviously the biggest prize on the market right now and he would fit a need in the outfield.
Acquiring Soto surely won’t be an easy task for the Yankees, with just about every team in the majors trying to land the coveted 23-year-old outfielder. Whether the Yankees have or want to deal the assets needed in a trade this size is also a big question mark.
Castillo would also come at a hefty price tag for New York to pry him away from the Cincinnati Reds. Starting pitching has also become a bigger concern With Luis Severino on the injured list and Jamison Taillon struggling on the mound. The price for Castillo’s services could cost the Yankees two of their top five prospects and three of their top 10, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
If the Yankees can’t or don’t want to pay the high price, who will Cashman target instead?
Joey Gallo situation
Everyone wants to know where Joey Gallo is going to be after the trade deadline. Gallo has been the punching bag for just about every Yankees fan and his numbers have not done him any favors. The Yankees outfielder has not lived up to the expectations that the team had when they brought him in via trade nearly a year ago.
While Gallo has been a strong defensive fielder and he did hit a home run in the Yankees’ blowout win over the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be in the lineup come October. That means New York will need to try to work to move him to another team before the Aug. 2 deadline or he’ll be watching from the sidelines when the playoffs roll around.
Seriousness of Luis Severino’s injury
The Yankees are hoping that things don’t get any worse with Severino’s injury that forced him to leave Wednesday’s start early and forced him onto the injured list. Right now the plan is for the righty to be shut down for two weeks, though he could be out for a shorter period of time depending on how Severino is feeling.
Severino missed a lot of the 2019 season with a Grade 2 lat strain, so for now New York is breathing a little sigh of relief that it is only a low-grade lat strain that he is dealing with this time around. It’s unclear how much the injury will play into the deadline plan that Cashman has concocted, but the Yankees rotation has gone through a bit of a rough patch of late.
The Yankees starting rotation’s ERA since June 5 has been 4.42 and 18th in the majors.
Can they replicate the first half magic?
The Yankees have found just about every way to win possible through the first half season and they’ve found lighting in a bottle at just about every turn. Aaron Judge is on pace to break Roger Maris’ 1961 home run record and the Bombers have had countless breakout stars in the first half of the year.
Even midseason addition Matt Carpenter has regained his form after signing with the Yankees in May. However, plenty of Yankees fans are still feeling trepidatious about what the team can do down the home stretch, Will they be able to continue the magical run that they’ve had so far, jumping out to baseball’s best record? Only time will tell.