Injury Report: June, 2022
With so much good for the Yankees recently, it's been hard to find time to comment on injuries for the team. Let's (finally) get into it:
Short-Term Injury List Players:
Player/Position: Aroldis Chapman (Left-Handed Relief Pitcher)
Injury/List: Achilles Tendon (Left): 15-Day IL
ETA: End of June
Report: Aroldis Chapman was pitching to his worst season ever- going by his 101 ERA+- but was still a league-average pitcher through 17 games played in 2022. For most teams, they'd be willing to sit behind their closer from the past 5 years, but the emergence of Clay Holmes has firmly pushed Chapman out of the 9th inning slot. According to sources, Chapman himself is not upset about losing the closer role and is much more set on winning another ring, even it if means taking a different role in the bullpen.
As for the injury he sustained around May 22nd, Chapman was quickly seen by trainers and has been making steady progress over the last three weeks. He played catch a week after going on the IL, was pain-free another week after that, and last tossed a monitored bullpen on June 14th. Next up for Chapman will be live at-bats, though if those will come in practice or the minor leagues is not yet known.
Player/Position: Jonathan Loaisiga (Right-Handed Relief Pitcher)
Injury/List: Shoulder Inflammation (Right): 15-Day IL
Report: After pitching to the best he had in the major leagues with a 2.17 ERA/197 ERA+ last season in 2021, Jonathan Loaisiga was quickly being seen as the heir-apparent to Aroldis Chapman in the closer role. However, the 2022 season was not being kind to Loasiga as he was pitching to a 7.02 ERA/55 ERA+ over 18 games this season with a concerning 5.4 BB/9 rate.
Loaisiga also last pitched in the MLB on May 22nd before going on the IL a few days later and being instructed not to pitch for a little over a week between May 25th and June 3rd. He did temporarily leave the team to attend family matters in Nicaragua last week, but returned to the Yankees and started a throwing program while tossing on Monday and Tuesday. I'd expect another 2-3 weeks before he's back.
Long-Term Injury List Players:
Player/Position: Zack Britton (Left-Handed Relief Pitcher)
Injury/List: UCL Repair/Tommy John Surgery (Left): 60-Day IL
ETA: Later half of 2022 Season
Report: Zack Britton was looking to be a nothing for the New York Yankees in the 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery on September 8th, 2021. However, he has been moving along steadily since then and could make his way onto the bullpen come August/September. If he'll be the 2021 version (22 Games, 18.1 IP, 5.89 ERA/82 ERA+) or the 2019/2020 version (86 Games, 80.1 IP, 1.90 ERA/232 ERA+) of himself is very much up in the air.
I am in favor of letting Zack Britton go for it at the end of this season. He'll be a free agent after the season and I'm sure he wants to showcase that he'll be back and healthy from TJS for the 2023 season. (At that same point, I don't bring him back unless he's cheap.) Plus, even if he's just half as good as his 2019-2020 self, he's a proven high-leverage arm who will be an above-average option in the bullpen.
Player/Position: Ben Rortvedt (Catcher)
Injury/List: Partial Meniscectomy/Knee Surgery (Left): 60-Day IL
Report: Is time on the MLB roster slowly looming for Kyle Higashioka? In the trade for the Yankees to get rid of Sanchez (and Urshela) while getting much better on defense with IKF and Donaldson, they also got back Ben Rortvedt. He played just 39 MLB games in 2021 to a .169/.229/.281 triple-slash and after a knee surgery to clean up his meniscus on May 17th which came with a 6-8 week recovery timeline.
I expect that Rortvedt will need consistent playing time to get back up to speed and given multiple factors such as his having minor league options, the offensive break-out- and amazing defense- of Jose Trevino, the chemistry of Kyle Higashioka with the team and embracing a BUC role, and not wanting to mess with what is working, I firmly expect Rortvedt to be called on to embrace a Triple-A starting role/first catcher up/September call-up spot with the team through the rest of 2022. Don't push it. (And to be fair, he has had just 34 games at Triple-A too, he could use more time and experience.)
Player/Position: Domingo German (Right-Handed Starting Pitcher)
Injury/List: Shoulder Impingement (Right): 60-Day IL
Report: Domingo German has pitched less than 100 innings since the 2019 season for multiple reasons; the most recent being a shoulder impingement that he suffered in mid-March of this year. He's been nearing an assignment into the minor leagues for rehab and stretching out since the beginning of the month and just recently pitched 3 simulated innings from this past Thursday. The rehab assignment should be coming sooner rather than later, during which it seems as though the Yankees are going to want to stretch him out as a starting option. (Keep in mind, they just started a stretch of 20 games in a row until July 3rd.)
If I had my way, I'd let German get stretched out with a hope of getting him back into the MLB for the series against the Cleveland Guardians (July 1-3) or Pittsburgh Pirates (July 5-6) and then the Cincinnati Reds (July 12-14) to allow him to get some time (~2 starts) in the MLB to showcase his stuff ahead of the All-Star Game. Hopefully he pitches well, and then the Yankees can sell on him in a package for talent they need (*cough* an outfielder named Andrew Benintendi *cough*).
Player/Position: Chad Green (Right-Handed Relief Pitcher)
Injury/List: UCL Repair/Tommy John Surgery (Right): 60-Day IL
ETA: Late 2023 or 2024
Report: A workhorse for the Yankees the past number of seasons, Chad Green went down in mid-May with a right forearm strain that ultimately ended up with Tommy John Surgery that occurred and went successfully on June 3rd. It's a long road to recovery, but I wish the best for Green, especially as this was his last year before reaching free agency for the first time. Hopefully a team is willing to take a shot (i.e. Nathan Eovaldi and the Rays) on a cheap 2-year deal for recovery and another shot at free agency before his mid-30's.