For the New York Yankees, 2020 is starting to look an awful lot like 2019. The Yankees come into Thursday atop the AL East at 16-8 despite losing many key players to injury. They lost another player Wednesday night (TB 4, NYY 2) when Zack Britton strained his left hamstring. He was placed on the injured list Thursday, the team announced.

“I haven’t talked to him about the timeline of it yet this morning but yeah, it seemed like it maybe just tightened up and then he felt it a  little bit on the last couple pitches of the inning,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters, including Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, on Thursday.

Here is Britton’s final pitch of Wednesday night’s outing. You can see him grab at his left hamstring after delivering the pitch:

Aroldis Chapman missed the start of the regular season after testing positive for COVID-19 and was activated earlier this week. During Chapman’s absence Britton saved an MLB-leading eight games in eight chances. He’s allowed four runs (two earned) in nine innings with his typically excellent ground ball rate (60.0 percent) in this season.

The Yankees now have seven players on the injured list and most of them are core players. Here are the injured Yankees:

  • LHP Zack Britton (hamstring strain): No timetable for his return yet.
  • C Kyle Higashioka (oblique strain): No timetable for his return yet.
  • OF Aaron Judge (calf strain): Could return as soon as this weekend.
  • RHP Tommy Kahnle (Tommy John surgery): Done for season.
  • 2B DJ LeMahieu (thumb sprain): Will miss another 2-3 weeks.
  • RHP Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery): Done for season.
  • DH Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring strain): Will miss another 2-3 weeks.

The Yankees are currently without their three best hitters, two of their top setup men, their No. 2 starter, and their backup catcher. Last season New York placed a record 30 different players on the injured list and, according to Spotrac, their 3,262 man games lost to injury were by far the most in baseball. The Yankees managed to win 103 games and the AL East anyway.

Last season’s injury problems prompted the Yankees to overhaul their training staff over the winter. They hired Eric Cressey, who is considered a titan in the modern sports training world, to oversee their player performance department. Injuries happen, they are a part of the game, but this many injuries for a second straight year has to be discouraging for the Yankees.

With Britton and Kahnle sidelined, Boone’s bullpen is not nearly as formidable as usual. Kahnle’s dead fish changeup makes him effective against righties and lefties, and Britton’s ground ball ability is among the best in the sport. The team’s bullpen heirarchy currently looks something like this:

Chapman in the ninth inning with Green and Ottavino setting him up is still a high-end top three. The middle innings are much dicier though. Loaisiga has been impressive in short bursts and figures to get a longer look in high-leverage spots these next few weeks. Avilan and Holder are matchup guys who can be hit or miss.

The Aug. 31 trade deadline is only 11 days away and the Yankees figured to seek a reliever to replace Kahnle even before Britton got hurt. Now adding a bullpen help becomes a higher priority. New York is close to a lock for the postseason — FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 99.5 percent — but they want to put themselves in the best position possible to win short series.


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