Boone has been preaching a familiar mantra to his hitters: control the strike. That’s another way of reminding them not to chase bad pitches. That was the surcharge for all those home runs last year — they led all playoff teams in regular-season strikeouts.
The Yankees are 10th in strikeouts in 2019, but they figure to climb in the rankings with Stanton and Judge returning — not that Boone is all that concerned. As he said on Tuesday, “the more contact we make the better, but we don’t want to sacrifice who are.”
The Yankees’ plan to maximize that formula calls for Stanton to primarily play in left field, yielding his former position in right to Judge. In the infield, Encarnacion will split first base and the designated hitter’s spot with Luke Voit, while D.J. LeMahieu will take over at third, sending Urshela to the bench. It’s potentially the league’s most dangerous lineup, and it could soon be complemented by the restoration of the starting rotation. While the immediate focus was on the offense, Boone noted that Luis Severino, who has been on the I.L. all season with a torn lat, will finally begin throwing off a mound next Tuesday.
Barring any setbacks, Severino will start what will essentially be a second spring training, and he could return to the Yankees just after the All-Star break. The Yankees were also heartened by news that Domingo German, who is nursing a hip flexor injury, has responded well to treatment and is now throwing without pain. He could come off the I.L. much sooner than Severino.
Even so, General Manager Brian Cashman is looking for an upgrade to the rotation via the trade market.
“I’ve got more work to do,” he said after acquiring Encarnacion. Whether that means dealing for the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman, the Indians’ Trevor Bauer or the most elusive target, the Nationals ace Max Scherzer, this much is certain: Long home runs are about to become more plentiful at Yankee Stadium.
As Stanton said, “We’re already dangerous, and now it’s another icing to the cake.”