SSTN Mailbag: Yankee Pitching Injuries, Playoff Eligibility, And A Youth Movement!
This has been a no good, very bad week to be a Yankee fan. I've preached patience, noting the massive lead the Yankees had built up in the American League standings. I noted the numerous injuries that have severely limited the lineup and the bullpen. There comes a point at which none of that matters anymore. We've reached that point. As beat up as the Yankees are right now, there's no reason that they should be this bad. I personally think it speaks to management on the bench and in the clubhouse more than anything else, but even that doesn't matter. It feels strange to say that this September stretch will be the most critical stretch of games that the Yankees will play in the regular season, but it's true. We're going to find out who the Yankees really are over the next month as the team will be healthier and they face hungry competition fighting for playoff spots. I'll be over in the corner holding my breath.
As always, thanks for the great questions and keep them coming to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. In this week's SSTN Mailbag, we'll look at whether or not the Yankees suffer more pitching injuries than other teams, discuss playoff eligibility, and talk about the sudden youth movement. Let's get at it:
Paul asks: Do the Yankees have a higher or lower rate of serious injury to their relief pitchers compared to other teams?
SSTN's own Editor-In-Chief asked me this question for the Mailbag close to a month ago, and it required enough research that I needed to put it off given the other things I've had going on in my life. Since this question was asked, I know that Paul has since shifted his thinking somewhat to wondering whether all Yankee pitchers are more prone to injury than other pitchers given the development staff's noted ability to get them throwing harder with more spin. Today , I have an answer for Paul's updated question.
Before we get into it, I want to get into a few notes. All data compiled for this study was generated using Fangraphs' Roster Resource tool, sorting for pitcher injuries in the last 3 seasons (2020-2022). I exported all of that data year-over-year into Excel and filtered out position players who pitched an inning. I also used discretion regarding what injury was suffered/which surgery was performed. Incidental injuries, like contusions and broken bones from impact were not in-scope, nor were non-upper body injuries. Broken wrists, hands, fingers, and blisters were also excluded. You may perform this study and come up with slightly different results based on filters, but I think this is very close to 100% accurate after filtering through approximately 10,000 injuries (really). I wanted to understand if the Yankees were really damaging pitchers more than other teams. Here are the results:
The Yankees may be snake-bit this year, but overall, they are roughly average when it comes to pitching arm injuries. Interestingly, the Dodgers, Rays, and Mets all fair far worse than the Yankees with regards to pitching injuries over the last three years.
I've said it once, I'll say it again: pitching is a Greek word that actually means "breaks often." Pitching is an unnatural act, and pitchers across baseball are throwing harder than ever, putting even more strain on pitchers. This is true of the Yankees as it is for everyone else. The Yankees are doing no worse at protecting their pitchers than anyone else.
John asks: It used to be that you had to have played on the MLB roster by August 31st to be considered for the playoff roster. Is that still the case?
No, and it is a fascinating change given the Yankees' situation at SS. As long as a player is on the extended 40-man roster by September 1st, they are eligible for the playoff roster. That means Oswald Peraza (who just got called up, I might add) is eligible for the postseason roster.
It will be fascinating to see what happens at SS the rest of the way. I stumped really hard for IKF in the offseason, but he has been really terrible overall this year, ranking near the bottom of most metrics both offensive and defensive among starting shortstops. I would imagine Peraza will get a lot of playing time in September, much in the same way that the Yankees have given Oswaldo Cabrera a shot. If Peraza impresses, I expect him to start at SS in the playoffs.
Brian asks: Is a youth movement coming up for the Yankees? The old crew ain't working anymore!!
It's already here. Peraza and Cabrera's call-ups, combined with Weissert's call-up signal that the Yankees will use anyone in their system if it makes them better right now. I don't know if it's enough, but at least we'll finally see if some of these kids are for real.