Despite facing a tremendous amount of injuries to their biggest stars, the Yankees keep finding a way to win, but how are they doing it?
The Yankees are 20-14 after Monday night’s victory against Seattle and just two games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East. While most expected the Yankees to win, or at least compete for, the division, no one expected them to be competitive in this fashion.
This is not the Yankees starting lineup, this is their Injured List squad
— Kyle Shafer (@k_shaf_) April 24, 2019
The Yankees are 17-11…how? We have no idea! Look at this Injured List😳😳😳 pic.twitter.com/Rl0cIRtwAJ
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) May 1, 2019
If you told me that not only would Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks join Didi Gregorius on the IL to start the season, but the Yankees would also lose Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar, Dellin Betances, Greg Bird, Clint Frazier, and Troy Tulowitzki in the first few weeks of the season, there is no way I would predict a winning record for that team.
Yet, here we are. So how on earth are the Yankees doing it? In a word, pitching.
Coming into Monday, the Yankees ranked third overall in fWAR for pitchers with a score of 5.5, just .1 behind the Reds and Rays. In 114.2 innings pitched. Yankees starters are ranked 4th overall and have amassed 1.5 fWAR and in 178.2 innings pitched, Yankees relievers are also ranked 4th overall and have amassed 3.9 fWAR (if you noticed that 1.5 + 3.9 ≠ 5.5, then I commend you, I’m assuming Fangraphs rounds their combined WAR totals).
Leading the way with 1.5 fWAR himself is James Paxton, who also succumbed to injury recently. Domingo German has been a revelation with 1.4 fWAR and Masahiro Tanaka has been good for 0.7 fWAR. In the relief corps, Aroldis Chapman leads with 0.6 fWAR, Jonathan Holder has followed up an excellent 2018 with 0.5 fWAR to begin the season, and Tommy Kahnle has returned to his 2017 form with 0.3 fWAR.
The Yankees pitching has been stellar, despite missing their best starter in Severino and best setup man in Betances. Out of the 16 pitchers the Yankees have used this season, only three have a negative fWAR, and one of those three is Chad Green with a truly terrible -0.4 fWAR, so the staff itself is deep and getting contributions across the board.
With so many players out, it really has been fun to watch this team come up with new ways to win and different heroes each night. With Sanchez, Andujar, and Frazier returning to the lineup, hopefully, the bats will start to catch up to the pitching performances. Once the Yankees get fully healthy they really are going to be a scary team.