So...Yanks without Aaron Judge. How we looking? Not...terrible, but there's clearly a palpable difference.
Like the 2019 season, the rent-a-Yanks are out in full force, with technical replacement level choices doing the best they can to fill big roles. The best of these so far has been Billy McKinney, the former Yankee farmhand whose return to the Bronx has resulted in 7 RBIs and 4 homers in 18 games. Willie Calhoun has somehow become a fan favorite, with 16 RBIS and 5 homers in 44 games, though ironically he's been injured as well. Jake Bauers even has 6 homers and 16 RBIs, and he's been a genuinely impressive power bat, even if he's not, like, the solution or anything.
Of everyone to help pump up the Yanks in Judge's absence, the most successful has been Harrison Bader. I lamented Cashman's decision to give up Jordan Montgomery last year, but Bader has been everything we've wanted. Excellent defensive centerfielder, sneaky power bat, he's got 33 hits in 35 games. Bader has been the central piece of this team since coming back, and the team's still done fairly well since. Rizzo's dimmed a little but he still has 37 RBIs. Volpe's figured out the hitting bit and has 16 steals at the moment. Stanton and Donaldson are good for big dumb power. Everything's sort of settling around Bader, and it's been pretty satisfying to see him succeed like this. I'm still hopeful that Judge's return will build on this, and Bader will still succeed this year even with Judge having higher benchmarks, but it's good to have a solid force of good powering this team.
There's been lots of other success stories coming from this team, like Tommy Kahnle forgetting to allow any runs in his first 11 games, or Michael King becoming a surprisingly adept ninth inning man in addition to his long work, or Ian Hamilton and Nick Ramirez's continued solid stuff in relief, or gee I dunno somebody just pitched a perfect game the other night. We're still 9 games above .500, in a palpable enough position behind Baltimore, and not bleeding as much as we were. It's really gonna help once we start getting people back, especially the pitchers. Severino, German and Schmidt are doing fine, but the absence of Cortes, Rodon and Montas is very evident right now. Having to grab Jhony Brito or Randy Vazquez every so often and hope they're ready tonight is not the ideal fifth starter strategy, but they seem to be getting it.
This isn't the overwhelming Yankee success that we saw last year, but there's a lot of good in this team, and there's still promise even amid the injuries. I'm seeing this team like twice in the next month, and hopefully some of that will come through.
Coming Tomorrow- He's young, he's lanky, and he strikes people out.