The Effect of DJ LeMahieu’s Return to the Yankees
On July 15, it was announced that Yankees’ second baseman DJ LeMahieu would be rejoining the Yankees during the week after testing positive for COVID-19 on July 4 along with Luis Cessa.
Aaron Boone has said that there is no definite timetable for either players’ return, although there seems to be a small chance that he is ready for Opening Day on July 23. However, due to LeMahieu’s extensive baseball activity during the past several months, Boone says he may be able to fill right in from where he left off in Spring Training.
While LeMahieu’s return is a big boost to the entire Yankee lineup, there will always be those players who are trying to make an impact for a roster spot. This situation is no different.
Last week, I wrote an article detailing the two replacements for LeMahieu and who the Yankees should go with for the time that LeMahieu was out. Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade were both expected to fight for the starting role, although I believed that their time would be equally split. Now that LeMahieu is close to returning, one of these two players may not see the field at all this year, barring any major injuries.
It is possible to shift LeMahieu around in the infield, but what is the point? Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar will be manning third, where Gleyber Torres and either Estrada or Wade can handle that position. Luke Voit and Mike Ford are both very capable of handling first base as well, so there is no other place to go.
The Yankees are also not going to sacrifice a pitcher to make room for another infielder. If anything, they need as much pitching as they can get with Cessa and Aroldis Chapman on the COVID-19 restricted list.
Boone is not going to shuffle the infield around just so either Estrada or Wade will be able to get playing time. His methods are to put a team out on the field that is capable of winning every game.
On a more positive note, LeMahieu brings back energy to the top of the order that is going to be vital. Hitting .327 is impressive, but the Yankees do not have any other player they can rely on to hit that average… except for the 32-year-old LeMahieu.
Estrada and Wade are both solid defenders, but they are no match for LeMahieu when it comes to defense. LeMahieu is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner and a three-time Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award for second base. The second base defense goes from good to great.
LeMahieu may not be in the lineup on Opening Day, but I predict that he will be ready to play by the end of July, which will only mean he misses six games or so, which will be a huge win for the Yankees.