The Yankees’ depth was tested earlier in the year, especially in the outfield, but now the team they assembled in the offseason is coming back together.
Top-of-the-order center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who missed nearly two months of games after suffering a knee injury against the Nationals on May 19, has come back as good as ever. Since being activated from the disabled list just a few days before the All-Star break, Ellsbury has seven hits in 34 at-bats, including a home run and two walks. All but one of those hits came in series’ against the Athletics and Red Sox before the break, but offense was hard to come by in the recently-concluded set with the Mariners (just 17 runs were scored between the two teams in total). Ellsbury has yet to steal a base since returning to the club, but the Yankees are probably trying to take it easy with their 7-year, $153 million investment. Ellsbury is now batting .302 on the year, with a respectable OPS of .741. Assuming he is in the lineup on Tuesday, he’ll have a chance to get at Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, whom he is batting .368 against in 19 at-bats.
Meanwhile, the Yankees bullpen had to make do without closer Andrew Miller for over four weeks, but their late-inning specialist was brought back into the fold earlier this month. Miller, who didn’t surrender a single earned run in his first 15 appearances this year, picked up a save in his first game back on July 8 against the A’s, then finished two games against the Red Sox heading into the break. This past weekend, the 6-foot-7 inch southpaw picked up two saves with little drama against the Mariners, upping his season total to 20. Miller is sixth in the AL in saves despite playing significantly fewer games, and he has yet to blow a save in 2015 (something that the five closers above him cannot say).
Carlos Beltran is the most recent Yankee to complete a DL stint; he had been out since July 1 with a strained oblique. The 38-year old veteran made his impression felt in Sunday’s game against Seattle; with the Bombers down 1-0 in the sixth inning, Beltran stepped up to the plate and delivered a two-out RBI to tie the game, and the Yankees would go on to win 2-1 thanks to a solo shot by Mark Teixeira.
Beltran hopes to continue his career renaissance, as he endured a rough 2014 in which he only played 109 games due to injury and batted a paltry .233, well below his career average of .280. Beltran is currently batting .262 with seven homers and 31 RBI in 67 games this season.