BOSTON — If you thought Aaron Judge‘s season has been like a dream, wait until he leads this falling-apart group of Bronx Bombers to something special. You haven’t seen anything yet.
It’s highly unlikely even Judge can do that, though, because the New York Yankees are in a free-fall of mammoth proportions. The only thing that hasn’t hit the Bronx yet are the locusts.
A team that has lost 17 of its past 25 games, that has watched player after player go down, now will be without another starter, likely for the rest of the season, in Michael Pineda. He is probably going to have Tommy John surgery, which means he might not pitch again until 2019. With free agency on the horizon, his Yankees career might be over at 28. It’s a terribly sad day professionally for him.
Meanwhile, first baseman Greg Bird — who has missed most of the season with ankle issues — looks as if he could be headed for surgery that would cost him another two months, meaning his year might also be done.
Recently-acquired 26-year-old first baseman Garrett Cooper will make his MLB debut and might be an unlikely savior. They’ll need a “Pride of the Yankees” performance from him. We know, we know, that was Gary, not Garrett, Cooper, but you get the idea.
A year when it seemed the Yankees had pressed down hard on the rebuild fast-forward button has suddenly fallen flat and could flat-line soon. We will find out what this team is made out of over the next 10 days, in which they play 11 road games, including four against the first-place Red Sox and then seven against the wild-card contending Twins and Mariners.
The Yankees have had injuries to their starting first baseman, their second baseman, their starting shortstop, their starting catcher, their starting center fielder, their closer and two of their starting pitchers. It might be time to put Aaron Judge in bubble wrap.
But Judge will try to lead them to someplace special, even though this team looks like it is headed nowhere. They’re just four games over .500 as they start the second half. They must find a way to go 5-6, at least, on this trip.
Maybe general manager Brian Cashman brings in some reinforcements, but how much can he really do? Cashman plans on the Yankees being “careful buyers,” which means he’s not going to trade major parts in his rebuilt farm system. So even if they add a starter, it will likely be of the middling variety.
It means that a guy like Masahiro Tanaka needs to pitch like an ace to give the Yankees a chance. But even then, everything needs to go right. Suddenly and incessantly, everything is going wrong for the Yankees. Even Judge can’t stop the onslaught.