Every season for the New York Yankees is a World Series year, but 2019 is a very different type of year. It is more than any other win-or-bust type of year. It’s a year where they’re looking to win now, win big, and win easily. In short, the postseason isn’t enough for the Bronx Bombers and just reaching the World Series isn’t enough either, nor is going seven games in the Fall Classic.
To start the season, they suffered such an array of injuries that it’s almost hard to believe, decimating an Opening Day roster that was thought to have the ability to take the Yankees to their first World Series since 2009. But rather than let those become another excuse for a favored team that would end up struggling, their depth has stepped up to the challenge and general manager Brian Cashman made a few key moves to keep the Yankees not just atop the American League East, but four games shy of the L.A. Dodgers for the best record in baseball. With the job that the Yankees depth did to keep this team on top of the division as much as possible, the only way for this season to be a success now is ending it with a ring. Otherwise, it was all saved for nothing.
It may sound extreme to say the Yankees are this committed to one year, but they made their point clear when they traded for Seattle Mariners first baseman and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion on Saturday, opting to grab another big-time power hitter over much-needed pitching. Encarnacion is tied with Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout with 22 homers for most in the American League entering play on Thursday.
Encarnacion went 0-for-4 in his Bronx debut Monday prior to launching his first homer as a Yankee the next day. He’ll fit in just fine.
With the momentum they have, it would be massively disappointing if it didn’t result in a serious run at a title. The Yankees proved their depth was better than most teams, and survived long enough for Stanton returned this week, with Judge set to come back next week. Even so, New York saw as many as 20 players go to the injured list this season, one for the rest of the year. And they haven’t seemed to miss a beat. Since taking the top spot in the division back on May 17th the Yankees are 19-11 and have won five in a row entering a huge four-game weekend series against the Astros Thursday night.
This team is currently overachieving, to be sure, but their success has gotten to a point where manager Aaron Boone has to make tough roster decisions just to fit everyone back into the roster. Guys like Cameron Maybin could be another odd man out in what’s once again become a crowded Yankees outfield, and we’ve seen those decisions in action already as the Yankees sent Clint Frazier back to Scranton to make room for Encarnacion earlier in the week.
With the Yankees expected to get back their top pitchers in Dellin Betances, Domingo German, and Luis Severino around the All-Star break, the Yankees could have their best all-around team in recent memory. It also opens the door to utilizing their now high-value trade chips for July’s trade deadline as the team is expected to look into trades for an ace pitcher who could deliver the same kind of late-season performance Justin Verlander did when he was traded to the Astros for their 2017 World Series run.
The Yankees are and have always been about winning. Even with more than half of the team out due to injury, the depth that Cashman brought in picked up the slack and kept the Yankees atop the division while everyone recovered and slowly made their way back one by one. The expectation of a title surrounds the team this year more than any other year in the recent past. Anything short of a World Series title in the Fall is just a waste of time given what this team has already accomplished without their stars.
The team that is now home run or bust just truly became World Series or bust.