Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Wade
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

As the Baby Bombers continue maturing, several of these young New York Yankees are developing less-than-desirable names for themselves.

Aaron Case

Nestled in among the bountiful reasons to get hyped for the New York Yankees 2020 season are at least four major causes for concern. Those disconcerting aberrations, namely Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez and Tyler Wade, have crafted increasingly alarming track records.

There’s no need to panic at the moment, but if the patterns these players have established continue to manifest in 2020, fans can start to fret.

Aaron Judge: Injury-prone

For Yankees fans, the only thing more frustrating than a decade of no World Series wins is Aaron Judge’s inability to stay healthy following his mammoth rookie season. When he drilled 52 bombs in 2017, the next 60-homer Yankee seemed to have finally arrived.

Alas, Judge hasn’t even reached the 30-mark since, hitting 27 in each of the two seasons.

The reason for this pittance of power is, of course, injuries. Judge has only played in 214 games the last two years—112 in 2018, 102 in 2019.

Thankfully, there doesn’t appear to be a recurring trouble spot, such as a bad back. He missed about two months with an oblique injury in 2019; in 2018 an HBP resulted in a fractured wrist that cost the gargantuan slugger a month and a half.

Judge must play around 150 games this coming season to turn things around. If he’s MIA for another month or more in 2020, it will officially be time to slap the “injury-prone” label on him.

Luis Severino: Postseason dud

Luis Severino has been special in the regular season ever since 2017, his first year as a full-time starter. That year he went 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA. He followed that up with a 19-8 performance in 2018, and although his ERA jumped to 3.39, his FIP was a career-best 2.95 (discounting his 2.13 FIP in three 2019 starts).

Another superb regular season in 2020 will cement his place near the top of the MLB pitcher rankings. The postseason is another, less happy story.

Severino’s career postseason numbers are dismal. He’s tossed 31.1 playoff innings, posting a 5.17 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP en route to a 1-3 record. Compare those numbers to his career regular-season 42-26 record, 3.46 ERA, and 1.15 WHIP, and the difference is startling.

The Yankees will have to try hard to miss the playoffs in 2020, so Sevy will most likely get a chance to prove his past October numbers are a fluke. If he fails yet again, though, he’ll become the American League version of Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who is notoriously weak when the games really matter:

  • Kershaw career regular season: 2.44 ERA, .695 winning percentage
  • Kershaw career postseason (158.1 innings): 4.43 ERA, .450 winning percentage

Severino doesn’t have to end up where Kershaw is, but the young Bronx Bomber is certainly sprinting down that path. Maybe in 2020, he can begin to backtrack.

If not, New York Yankees fans can thank the baseball gods for Masahiro Tanaka, who activates warrior mode every postseason.

Gary Sanchez: All-or-nothing hitter

Remember when Gary Sanchez was a surefire stud in the batter’s box but a liability behind the dish? That script has now flipped.

After leading the league with 18 passed balls in only 76 games at catcher in 2018, Sanchez allowed only seven in 90 games in 2019. That’s great and all, but he also followed up a .186/.291/.406 2018 slash line with a not-much-better .236/.316/.525 performance.

Sure, the increase in slugging percentage is a positive, but the minimal improvements in batting average and on-base percentage are frightening. To make matters worse, Sanchez also struck out in a career-high 28 percent of his plate appearances in 2019.

Like Judge’s growing injury history, two seasons are a protracted stretch of bad luck, but three is an established pattern.

Another season with a BA below .250 and an OPB hovering around .300 will make Sanchez a true of an all-or-nothing hitter. That’s unacceptable for a guy CC Sabathia once said this about, per SNY:

“I think Sanchy’s probably the best hitter in the lineup, you don’t talk about him at all. He has power to all fields. He reminds me of a young Manny Ramirez. That’s enough said right there.”

Who knows, maybe Sanchez will look a little more like Manny and less like Chris Davis in 2020.

Tyler Wade: Quadruple-A player

It’s time for Tyler Wade to step up and earn his pinstripes. The versatile lefty swinger could have been the Yankees’ go-to sub the past few years, but he’s failed to impress offensively at the major league level.

In the minors, Wade is a career .274/.351/.370 hitter. In 109 games across three seasons in the MLB, Wade has slashed a pitiful .197/.268/.298.

Wade as a decent hitter gives the Yankees an excellent option to rest their all-righty infield against particularly tough right-handed starters. That aspect of his game also makes him ideal for Yankee Stadium, where he can pad his slugging percentage by swinging for the short porch in right.

The 25-year-old is running out of chances to prove he belongs with the big boys in the Bronx. Another flop in 2020 could mean he’s nothing more than the prototypical quadruple-A talent.

Ideally, each member of this possibly ill-fated quartet bucks his respective worrisome trend. The next New York Yankees dynasty depends on them, from Aaron Judge and his legendary power to Tyler Wade with his super-sub potential.

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