Reasons to be optimistic about the Yankees even after Masahiro Tanaka's injury

Jason Miller

The loss of Tanaka is a blow to the team, but there are still things to be excited about.

The news of Masahiro Tanaka's partially torn UCL came as a huge blow to the Yankees. It remains to be seen whether rehabbing will fix the problem, or if he'll end up needing Tommy John surgery, but regardless of whether he rejoins the team this season or not, it doesn't mean there isn't anything left to look forward to. Here are some things Yankee fans can still be excited about:

1. Dellin Betances. He has been lights out, with 84 strikeouts through 55.1 innings pitched. That's 19 more than the next closest reliever (Carlos Torres), and he has an ERA of 1.46, BAA of .123 and 0.70 WHIP. My favorite thing about having to listen to the Away broadcast on road trips is when the opposing team starts talking about Betances with a mixture of awe and worry in their voices. He's got to be the number one remaining bright spot on the team.

2. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. Gardner's shown that he was worth the contract he landed over the offseason. He's batting .281/.354/.420 with 119 wRC+, 15 SB and 8 HRs. Gardner's career-high number of home runs hit in a season is 8, which he reached last season, so he should set a personal best in that regard. He's been the most consistent hitter on the team, and just last night he snapped his streak of having reached base safely in 24 straight games. That's supposedly the longest streak in the majors this season of anyone batting in the leadoff spot. Ellsbury has also been playing well in his first year as a Yankee. He's batting .284/.348/.403 with 107 wRC+, 25 SB and 6 HR. His speed in the outfield and seeming ability to get to mostly everything, combined with his speed on the base paths make Ellsbury really fun to watch.

3. David Robertson. D-Rob hasn't totally tanked in the role of closer. In fact, he's been really good. Sure, he likes to make things interesting by walking a guy here or there, but he only has 2 blown saves. The rotation may have been wiped out, and the offense is struggling, but at least we aren't all gathered in a corner crying and begging Mariano Rivera to come back and save the team.

4. Mark Teixeira. Tex is hitting much better than we could have hoped for. After playing all of 15 games last season, and returning from wrist surgery, Tex is currently batting .237/.334/.459 with 17 home runs and 121 wRC+. Though below his career numbers (and partially in part to the offense being terrible), Tex is leading the team with home runs and RBI. At the very least, he's the main guy hitting for power on the team, so we can at least count on some more home runs. He's on track to pass the 24 that he hit in 2012. Additionally, we can count on at least a few more episodes of Foul Territory (maybe skip the Tanaka one though).

5. The injury to Tanaka happened prior the Trade Deadline, so there is plenty of time for Brian Cashman to try and work some magic like he did in the McCarthy for Nuno deal. We can almost certainly count on the rotation and/or the offense being improved, which might mean that the team isn't out of contention. Fortunately for the Yankees, the AL East has not been playing well, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that the team stays in the race and even makes a playoff run. It depends on how the next few weeks play out.

6. Yankee prospects such as Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder have been tearing up Triple-A. Pirela: .319/.359/.449 8 HR 12 SB. Refsnyder: .308/.431/.551 6 HR .355 BABIP. We could see one or both of them called up at some point, either to try and help the team, or because the season is lost and they might as well get a chance. Even if it is the latter, it would still be fun to watch them play.

Even if the entire season is lost and doomed, there are still things to be excited and optimistic about. Add yours in the comments below.

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