Yankees’ roster finally healthy just in time for the postseason

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Jaywood Uk | Flickr

Matteo Flamio

Major League Baseball playoffs are less than two weeks away and the New York Yankees are continuing their dominance of baseball down the stretch of the season. 

Although this is the end of the regular season, this might very well be the best time for the team.

The Yankees have once again won 100 games, making this the first time they have done that in back-to-back seasons since 2002 to 2004, and have clinched the American League East for the first time since 2012. 

They have finally dethroned the Boston Red Sox from the top of the division after their reign at the top for the past three years, including their 2018 World Series win.

This time of the 2019 season has been the best for the Yankees because they are finally able to welcome back some very familiar faces from the injured list. 

This season has been cluttered with injuries up and down their lineup, starting rotation and bullpen.

The return of Dellin Betances was short-lived. As soon as he came off the IL, he was put right back on it with a season-ending tear to his left Achilles. 

Betances made his return on Sept. 15, where he threw just two-thirds of an inning and struck out both batters he faced. 

He looked like his dominant self with his fastball sitting in the mid-90s and his filthy wipeout curveball.

Betances mistakenly thought the second out of the inning was the third and after the strikeout did his signature little hop off the mound towards the dugout. Although videos do not show it and there was no reaction from Betances himself, this is believed to be where the tear happened. Manager Aaron Boone still took him out of the game, and nothing was known until after their game on Sept. 17, when Boone broke the news on Betances.

The bullpen has been the Yankees strongest piece on the season, and they are undefeated when their four horsemen — Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman — pitch in the game.

Their rotation has seen two additions in the past weeks. In Toronto, they added Jordan Montgomery after he missed the past year and a half recovering from Tommy John surgery. Montgomery came out of the bullpen in his first appearance and threw just two innings of work. He recorded two strikeouts but did give up three runs with a home run.

The long relief role is what is expected for Montgomery going into the playoffs, if he makes the playoff roster. It might be difficult for him to make a case to make the roster because of the small amount of time he has left in the season.

To go with Montgomery, the Yankees’ ace, Luis Severino, made his return to the mound on Sept. 17 against the Los Angeles Angels. 

Severino has missed most of this season with a shoulder issue, then suffered a mysterious injury to his lat. In front of the home crowd at Yankee Stadium, he threw four stellar shutout innings, striking out four batters while giving up two walks and two hits.

There was nothing but positives in his return, as he got his pitch count up to 67 and he had life on his fastball, with it topping out at 98.8 mph. 

This is what fans wanted and needed to see after general manager Brian Cashman did not make a move at the trade deadline. Paired with the outstanding pitching of late by James Paxton and the always playoff-trustworthy Masahiro Tanaka, the front of the Yankees rotation might be more of a force than competitors think.

To go with the returns of their pitchers, Giancarlo Stanton finally came back off the injured list, being activated on Sept. 18. He has been dealing with a strained ligament in his knee since July 25 and many believed Stanton, who has only played in nine games this season, was not going to return this season, but he is back and back right in time. 

In his first game back, Boone said that he would start in left field and bat fifth, but only play in four or five innings due to him not playing in any rehab games.

As it seems the entire season, when someone gets healthy, another gets hurt. The Yankees lost both Gary Sanchez and Edwin Encarnacion in Detroit in a series against the Tigers. Edwin went down with an oblique injury, while Gary went down with the dreadful groin injury that has been lingering him the past two seasons.

There is optimism in a return from Encarnacion but there is no clarity on what will come about with Sanchez. Luckily, in their absences, Luke Voit and Austin Romine have stepped up massively to continue the lineup’s dominance.

The season is coming to an end and postseason baseball is almost here, and the Yankees still have one more test as they fight for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The have the firepower but now is the most important time as they have to put themselves above the rest.