Did another Yankee get injured while I was writing this first sentence?
That’s sadly been the mindset as Yankee fans have been haunted by injuries on a painfully regular basis since spring training. Wednesday brought another one, though one that could be considered far less shocking. Troy Tulowitzki hit the IL with a calf strain, leaving the Yankees’ depth at just about zero. The infield has now lost Didi Gregorius, Miguel Andujar and Tulowitzki, while the lineup itself is also without Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton.
With the offense effectively gutted, all hope of scoring runs now seems to lie on the broad shoulders of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luke Voit, along with former All-Star and Rookie of the Year candidate Gleyber Torres.
Through the first two series of the season, Torres held a .292 slugging percentage and a 70 OPS+ in 24 at-bats. On Thursday, he before broke out in Baltimore with a pair of dingers and a ripped double the opposite way, carrying the Yanks to victory. With the state of the offense, the Bombers are going to need a lot more from Torres in the next month or so. They would love a repeat performance of Torres’ first months with the team last season, and more performances like Thursday afternoon.
Torres arrived to the majors on April 22nd last year, and recorded a hit in seven of his nine games for the remainder of the month. Then, he exploded through May with a 179 wRC+ that included a walk-off homer against the Indians, and helped the Yankees through their best winning surge of the season. A hip injury slowed Torres down through the All-Star break, but that level of production is something the team sorely needs right now.
Is Torres up to the task? Okay, maybe asking for a wRC+ just south of 200 is too tall of an ask, but his 141 wRC+ through the first half of last season would sure be nice for a team that currently has a gaping black hole at the bottom of the lineup. Torres fizzled out a bit last year and posted an 82 wRC+ through the final month of the regular season, but that could be attributed to a first-year major leaguer trying to labor through the daily grind of his first full season. An entire offseason has brought Torres back fresh, and while most projections figured to see some form of regression after a fantastic rookie year, that’s not something the Yanks can afford over the first month of the season. Not anymore.
It’s a lot to ask of a kid that recently turned 22 years old, but the Bombers need last year’s early version of Torres, and badly. If he can go on a tear for a month until Stanton and Hicks return, and possibly Andujar if he elects to rehab instead of go under the knife, it could help the Yanks tread water until the offense is back to full strength. The Yankees need a hero to help Judge and Sanchez do the heavy lifting. Maybe they have one in the infield, who showed his ability to carry the offense when the team desperately needed a win this week.