There’s no sugarcoating how much of an absolutely awful week it’s been for the New York Yankees. They haven’t won since last Friday, Gerrit Cole had to leave his start with a hamstring injury, the bullpen’s gassed, they’ve dropped back-to-back series to the terrible Orioles and Wild Card opponent Blue Jays, and they’re staring both a four-game home sweep and six-game losing streak in the face tonight with José Berríos on the bump for Toronto against an underachieving Yankees offense that looks ever-more-pitiful by the day.
That all would be enough to crack the old joke about asking Mrs. Lincoln, “Other than that, how was the play?”
But the hits just keep on coming. Now, Cole’s buddy and rotationmate Jameson Taillon is down for the count. The Yankees just announced that the 29-year-old right-hander was heading to the injured list with what manager Aaron Boone described as “a partially torn tendon.”
Prior to tonight’s game, the Yankees made the following roster moves:— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) September 9, 2021
•Placed RHP Jameson Taillon on the 10-day IL (retro to 9/7) with a right ankle tendon injury
•Selected RHP Sal Romano (#68) to the 28-man roster from Triple-A SWB
•Designated OF Jonathan Davis for assignment
Taillon’s in a walking boot, but Boone and the team are apparently hopeful that he might only miss one start:
Aaron Boone told reporters that Jameson Taillon has a partial tear of a tendon in his ankle, which happened at some point in his last start. He is in a walking boot until tomorrow, has had a PRP injection, and could only miss one start.— Seth Rothman (@SethDRothman) September 9, 2021
"It sounds worse than it is."
That all sounds a little too optimistic for me, but Taillon’s body is free to prove me wrong.
No matter what, this is tough blow at a time when the Yankees are scuffling anyway and need innings from their starting rotation. Taillon had struggled for most of August after winning AL Pitcher of the Month in July but had rebounded in his last outing on September 7th, when he threw seven innings of three-run ball against Toronto. Now, the Yankees will have to simply hope that he can return before the season ends. Taillon had seemed fatigued recently, so this could help in a weird way, but only if he actually comes back healthy.
Speaking of players who won’t return before the season ends, how about one who might not even return by the end of next season? From the sounds of it, injured reliever Zack Britton might have already thrown his last pitch as a Yankee:
Boone said Britton had "reconstructive" surgery yesterday on his left elbow, essentially Tommy John. Said there's a chance he could be back by the end of 2022 but it's too early to say.— Erik Boland (@eboland11) September 9, 2021
Britton was scheduled for surgery to remove bone chips for the second time in 2021, and the Yankees arranged for the procedure to take a look at his UCL, too. Unfortunately, it also required reconstruction, so it’s Tommy John surgery in all but name. Britton now faces an even longer rehab ahead, and he’s going to have to work very hard to make it back by late 2022. It’s good that he’s getting his elbow fixed, but also a shame since he had been superb for the Yankees from 2018-20 until his injury-ravaged 2021.
If you’re looking for any good news whatsoever, it sounds like Cole will indeed make his next start and won’t miss extended time due to his own injury. He’ll likely start on Monday against the Twins or Tuesday in Baltimore. Given that the badly struggling Deivi Garcia is on the taxi squad with the threat of a possible start in the next few days (Sunday’s starter is not yet announced, though Clarke Schmidt is also under consideration), uh, fingers crossed on Cole. Also on the rest of the pitching staff ideally not debilitating any further.
To take Taillon’s roster spot and find some warm body to give the bullpen a breather, the team called up veteran reliever Sal Romano, who had a cup of coffee on the Major League club back in July (pitching 2.1 scoreless innings). He has mostly spent the season in Triple-A Scranton, though he started the year in Cincinnati and briefly appeared for the Brewers in August. Maligned occasional fifth outfielder Jonathan Davis was designated for assignment.
Despite Romano’s call-up, don’t be surprised if it ends up for just being a one-day paycheck. Boone said that rehabbing pitcher Michael King should rejoin the Yankees tomorrow. He had 3.72 ERA and 4.12 FIP in 48.1 innings on the season in the majors until suffering a freak finger injury while lifting weights on July 5th. Anything that he could provide to the pitching staff would obviously be welcomed.