State of the New York Yankees: How bad is losing Zack Britton?

Zack Britton

As spring training continues, all eyes are on the New York Yankees pitching staff and how the loss of Zack Britton will be addressed.

Josh Benjamin

Another week of spring training gone, another week closer to New York Yankees Opening Day.

The lineup is coming together and, for once, both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are healthy and playing regularly. Gary Sanchez’s rebirth at the plate continues.

Even the pitching staff, the Yankees’ biggest question mark, is looking stronger than expected. Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon look to be in top form, and the battle for the back end of the rotation is heating up.

Even with a pair of injury scares, make no mistake. Just call the New York Yankees Eric Bischoff because they could be back, and possibly better than ever.

Strap in, folks. It’s time for this week’s State of the Yankees.

The loaded lineup

It’s early and everything could change a month from now, but it’s indeed encouraging to see a healthy New York Yankees lineup. Gary Sanchez not only has three home runs, but is also batting .278 in spring training this year. That’s a beautiful thing to see from the Kraken after his absolutely awful 2020.

But enough about Gary Sanchez. Let’s talk about Judge and Stanton, who are both seeking to play a full season after each dealing with injuries in the last two.

Judge is only batting .211 and hasn’t driven in any runs, but his swing looks crisp and he’s making good contact with the baseball. Stanton is only batting .231 himself, but his signature power was on full display with a tape measure home run last week.

It’s clear this Yankees lineup is hungry to live up to expectations. Even if most of the regulars look slow at the plate, give them a break. They’re shaking off offseason rust after the strangest season in baseball history.

In time, they’ll start the hit parade good and proper.

The first injury issues

Well, it was bound to happen at some point, wasn’t it? There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and the New York Yankees dealing with an injury to a significant player.

The culprit this time, per Lindsey Adler of The Athletic, is Miguel Andujar. The combination third baseman and outfielder is dealing with a hand/wrist injury and will see a specialist soon. That’s all, see you next week!

Wow, you devoted readers don’t miss a thing, do you? Well, the cat’s out of the bag. As much as we enjoy the fun of these weekly updates, we also need to discuss the not-so-good news.

In this case, popular reliever and team leader Zack Britton is set to miss extended time. He has a bone chip in his pitching elbow and will probably be out at least three months. Britton owns a 2.14 ERA in pinstripes and is a groundball machine, so losing hi as Aroldis Chapman’s setup man is a big deal.

Thankfully, the Yankees are known for their deep bullpen and are not lost without Britton. While he’s out recovering, expect newcomers Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson to step up. Fans should also keep an eye on Lucas Luetge, who has 11 strikeouts in five innings this spring.

It’s not the news fans want to hear, but Britton should be back in plenty of time to be an impactful bullpen piece as he always is.

Who’s No. 5?

With two weeks of spring training left, the answer as to who will be the New York Yankees’ No. 5 starter is still unanswered. Deivi Garcia has posted a 2.25 ERA in three starts and his knack for striking hitters out hasn’t disappeared. He’s also done a good job of limiting his walks, which will only boost his case.

But Garcia is not without strong competition, so the next two weeks will be key. Nick Nelson has dazzled in relief, as has Jonathan Loaisiga.

However, and I’m sick of mentioning this guy as much as everyone else, the favorite for the job now might be Domingo German. Even after missing last season to serve a domestic violence suspension, he has been crisp and effective in his two spring starts.

Not only has German not allowed a run in those short outings, but he hasn’t walked anyone either. Opposing hitters are batting just .125 against him and he has three pitches working.

German will face the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday and seek to boost his case to make the rotation. However, his lead over Garcia is small, so count on the New York Yankees thinking long and hard about who gets the No. 5 starter’s job.

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