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Troy Taormina | USA TODAY Sports

MLB’s Opening Day festivities are now just days away. If you live in the northeast, the sun is out and the temperature is finally warming up. With baseball coming back, life is starting to make sense again, right?

This is also the perfect time to feel optimistic about your favorite club hoisting a World Series trophy at the end of October. If you’re a Yankees fan, you’re flying a little higher than normal after finding out Anthony Volpe is the starting shortstop, too. But are the Bombers destined to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2015?

That could very well happen if you ask USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale. In his latest MLB notebook, Nightengale tabs New York as this upcoming season’s biggest disappointment:

Same division, but just to the south, the New York Yankees. 

Yes, the Yankees have spoiled everyone by coasting to the playoffs for six consecutive years, advancing to the ALCS in three of those years, but has anyone paid attention to those pitching injuries? There are only two starters remaining from their original projected rotation: Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes. 

The Yankees still are good, but intimidating? Uh-uh. 

Could they possibly miss the playoffs? Don’t be shocked. 

These few paragraphs will make the blood pressure rise for any Yankee fan. Plus, it’s Nightengale we’re talking about. When he says something, the opposite usually happens. So this could be a blessing in disguise. As if dropping that bomb of negativity wasn’t enough, though, he added comments from an AL general manager:

One American League GM predicts that the Yankees would miss out on the playoffs this spring, and this was before their rotation took hit after hit. 

The Yankees opened the spring with a starting rotation of Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes and Frankie Montas. 

Well, only Cole and Cortes stayed healthy, with Severino the latest to go down with a lat strain. 

Severino has struggled all spring with a 9.00 ERA, giving up six homers in 15 innings. 

Now, he’s dealing with yet another injury derailing his career. 

Why, since winning 19 games in 2018, he has since pitched in only 26 games, missing time with a right rotator cuff inflammation (2019), Tommy John surgery (2020), right lat strain (2022) and now another lat strain (2023). 

Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German are the replacements and Jhony Brito could be the fifth starter, if needed. 

The Yankees certainly have some rotation concerns heading into the regular season. However, it doesn’t seem like Rodon will be on the injured list for too long (barring setbacks). He threw a bullpen session on Monday and is expected back in the rotation by the second or third week in April.

Every team — even the heaviest favorites — has to deal with the possibility of missing the playoffs. The Yankees are no different. The AL East is no joke between them, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the upstart Baltimore Orioles. But even with all the injuries New York has dealt with, Baseball Prospectus is still projecting them to win the division quite handily.

I mean, this is the Yankees. They haven’t had a losing record in three decades and usually find a way to get themselves into the playoffs. It’s getting back to the World Series that’s been a problem recently. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens. This is why they play the game, folks.

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You can reach Matt Musico at matt.musico@xlmedia.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.