For Yankees fans, Opening Day was supposed to be a celebration of the commencement of a championship season. Now, those fans could be spending the day trying to identify the players replacing some of the team's biggest names.
Due to a strained right calf, Giancarlo Stanton now joins the ever-growing list of players expected to miss the start of the season. Manager Aaron Boone said Stanton's Grade 1 sprain was suffered during the end of Tuesday's defensive drills.
"It's disappointing because you want to get guys going and built up," Boone said.
While it's possible for Stanton to return on or before Opening Day, it's more likely that the Yankees will want to give the oft-injured slugger plenty of time to heal and recovery rather than risk further injury.
New York opens the season against Baltimore on March 26.
Stanton's vulnerability to injury has proven to be a pivotal reason why many consider the 13-year, $325 million contract signed before the 2015 season to be one of the more dangerous contracts in baseball.
After hitting a career-high 59 homers with the Marlins in 2017, Stanton hit 39 home runs in his first year with Yankees (2018). Last season, Stanton was sidelined with a number of injuries, leaving him to play just 18 games. In 59 at-bats, Stanton batted .288 with three dingers.
Injury List Continues to Grow for Yankees
The Yankees were the most injured team in baseball a season ago. That trend looks like it could very well continue as the injuries pile up for New York once again.
Stanton's injury was just one day removed from news that the Yankees will be without starter Luis Severino for the entirety of the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery. Before missing the vast majority of the 2019 season, Severino went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 2018.
In addition to Stanton and Severino, left-hander James Paxton will begin the season sidelined by a pair of medical operations – microscopic lumbar surgery and a procedure to remove a cyst. Paxton is expected to be out through April.
On top of the growing injuries, the Yankees will also start the year without Domingo German, who still has 63 of his 81-game suspension remaining. Barring any further developments, German should be able to return from his suspension for violating the MLB's domestic violence policy on June 5.
A once-loaded roster is beginning to look vulnerable, but will it be enough to keep the Yankees from an AL East title and postseason glory?
Yankees Still World Series Favorites
Despite the robust list of injuries, the Yankees still have a loaded roster.
Yes, losing a guy like Severino is a big blow to a team with title aspirations. However, a pitching rotation that already features J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka will be reinvigorated by the addition of Gerrit Cole, who went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts last year.
And while New York would love to have the power of Stanton in the lineup, they'll bring back a collection of bats that made the Yankees the best offensive teams in baseball a season ago.
In 2019, the Yankees scored the most runs (943) in MLB and trailed only the Twins (307) by hitting 306 home runs.
All of the above adds up to the Yankees remaining a favorite to win the World Series when October rolls around.
Currently, oddsmakers see the 2020 season as a three-team race. While the Yankees own the league's best odds of +380 to win it all, they're trailed closely by the Dodgers (+400) and Astros (+650).
And while New York's projected win total has dipped slightly, it remains one of the highest in the MLB with an over/under set at 100.5 games.