Playoffs or IL: Matt Carpenter
The playoffs for the Yankee begins next Tuesday on October 11th. Which injured players could make an impact on the playoff roster?
Injured Report: Matt Carpenter
Injured List: 60-Day IL (Retroactive to 8/9)
Injury: Left foot fracture
On August 8th, the Yankees lost the best batter in their lineup after a foul ball broke Matt Carpenters right foot. No, it was not Aaron Judge, but the case that Matt Carpenter was hitting better than Aaron Judge is arguable. Through 47 games with the Yankees, Carpenter was hitting to a quadruple slash of .303/.412/.717/1.138 with 15 Home Runs while Judge was hitting to a .303/.391/.677/1.068 quadruple slash with 44 Home Runs at the time. However regardless of who you want to consider was hitting better at the time, the loss of Carpenter did sting the Yankees as they went 8-13 to finish August after the injury.
Originally stated as an injury that could take about 8 weeks to recover from, check-ins and check-outs have been common about the status of recovery. Up until September 20th- when Carpenter had his most recent X-rays- he was using a walking boot, but a promising report came back that allowed him to start weight-bearing activities and ditch the foot support.
In a move that seems like it was spelling bad news, Matt Carpenter was also just transferred to the 60-Day IL as of October 2nd. The Yankees had been confident that Carpenter would be able to return to them during this season, stating this past weekend against the Baltimore Orioles as the original target date. That date was quickly switched to the upcoming 4-game series against the Texas Rangers, and with the move to the 60-Day IL (retroactive to August 9th), it has signaled that any return would come during the postseason, and more specifically, the ALDS.
As of now, Carpenter will be able to come off of the 60-Day IL on October 8th. In the meantime, Matt Carpenter has been making good progress. On September 30th, he was seen taking live batting practice with the team ahead of their Friday night game. He is also scheduled to be in Somerset this week as a way to face off against live pitching (and other Yankees players hoping to make an IL comeback for the postseason) and get him more reps in a controlled environment.
Luckily, with the Yankees having the 2nd seed in the American League, after the regular season ends on Wednesday (10/5), they will be off until the following Tuesday (10/11). This provides plenty of additional time to not rush players back from injury.
Outlook: Positive for Carpenter; Positive from Yankees
If you look at just what's going on, the optics do not look great with how the Yankees are handling this situation. Moving a player to the 60-Day IL as a way to prepare them for the postseason seems counterintuitive. At the same time, promoting that a player will be back for the regular season, even as recently as this past Friday, and then pushing that timeline back multiple times seems like the same problems showing their heads again from what we've seen from the Yankees medical staff too often in recent years. Yet, I agree with what they are doing here.
Think about it: these final regular season games are for nothing more than the love of the game. The New York Yankees have no postseason status to gain going forward. They are too far behind the Astros for the #1 seed and too far ahead of the rest of the American League to lose the #2 seed. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers currently sit at a 66-92 record, have been out of postseason contention since September 5th, and can't even salvage a non-losing season. All they can play for is pride...and if they win, a worse pick in the MLB Draft. (Which is unfortunate that teams in a way prioritize losing when the season is all but done, but we won't discuss that here.)
Also, you have to look at it from this perspective: in yesterday's game against the Baltimore Orioles, the New York Yankees already depleted bullpen may have just suffered another loss by way of Ron Marinaccio. Not good.
So, then why would the Yankees even play the risk of bringing back Matt Carpenter early? They can essentially get him an extra week of recovery time for no additional loss. These games against the Rangers don't matter. What they should be used for is final games to see who is going to be the bullpen pieces going into the postseason, a final throwing game for the starting pitchers (with a short leash on all of them), and a final couple games for the hitters to get themselves into a good rhythm.
I'm very happy the Yankees are playing it safe with Carpenter. It's the right thing to do.
Now, what they should do is to allow fans to go to Somerset to watch these live at-bats for Carpenter and to watch the pitchers who'll also be there. Make it an event! Allow Carpenter to get used to hitting in an environment of fans, cheering and jeering and yelling at him. Allow the pitchers to get back to that environment too.
Hey, they've tried to make money by selling every square inch of Yankee Stadium. And by going behind multiple different streaming platforms. And by raising ticket, beverage, food, and merchandise prices. And by giving out less and less to the fans.