Posted on August 30, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
With September nearly upon us, the carousel of injuries the New York Yankees have been dealing with all season continues to spin. On Friday, third baseman Gio Urshela became the latest Yankee to be placed on the 10-day Injured List. However, the move is not without some good news for the Yankees, who have activated first baseman Luke Voit from the IL after he missed a month of action because of a sports hernia.
Urshela has been sidelined with a left groin injury. He left Wednesday’s win over the Mariners after feeling tightness. At the time, the Yankees took him out of the game as a precaution. Initially, it was expected that Urshela would return to the lineup on Friday. However, the club has had a change of heart since then and will be taking the cautious approach of placing Urshela on the IL to give him at least 10 days to get right.
The 27-year-old has been in the midst of a breakout season. He was initially pressed into duty because of the season-ending injury to Miguel Andujar. But Urshela has seized the opportunity and become one of New York’s most important hitters. He’s currently hitting .331 with an OPS of .924. Urshela has been invaluable this season in helping make up for the absence of Andujar and several other key players who have spent significant time on the IL this year. He’s also proven to be one of the better defensive third basemen in baseball.
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The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Urshela personally. He’s currently third in the race for the American League batting title. However, he needs 88 more plate appearances the rest of the season to qualify. Once he returns from the injury, there may not be enough time left in the regular season for him to get enough at-bats to qualify.
Of course, given his importance, the Yankees don’t want to take any chances with Urshela. The Bronx Bombers hold a comfortable 11-game lead atop the AL East standings, so there’s no reason for them to risk it. DJ LeMahieu, who currently leads the American League in batting, will take over at third base until Urshela is back. The Yankees don’t have any other options at third base right now, but as long as Urshela’s stint on the IL is brief, there’s no reason why LeMahieu alone can’t be the only replacement.
Also, the Yankees are getting Voit back in the mix for the stretch run. He was 8 for 17 with two home runs during a rehab stint in the minors, so he appears more than ready to return to the majors. His replacement, Mike Ford, has been a frequent contributor for the Yankees over the past month, so Aaron Boone is likely to find at-bats for both players at first base and the DH spot. Even with Ford stepping up, the Yankees will welcome Voit back with open arms with Edwin Encarnacion on the IL after suffering a hairline fracture in his wrist in early August.
Outside of preventing Urshela from competing for the batting title, there should be no long-term ramifications from this injury. Barring a setback, he should return before the end of the regular season. Both Urshela and Voit figure to be important figures in New York’s lineup when the postseason rolls around. Swapping one for the other on the IL is typical of the season the Yankees have had. But they remain hopeful that both will be healthy when the playoffs begin.