By Rich Mancuso/ thenyextra.com
Unchartered territory for the Yankees. Also, unchartered territory for Major League Baseball as the Yankees were supposed to head up the turnpike and back to the Bronx after a two-game series with the Phillies was postponed.
However, the schedule has changed. Because the Phillies are pushed back and pending to more COVID test results, with the Marlins on hiatus to Sunday with a team decimated with COVID, the Yankees are headed to Baltimore for a series against the Orioles that will begin tomorrow and conclude Thursday at Camden Yards,
Such is the norm of playing baseball during a global pandemic. The Yankees escaped Philadelphia without setting foot in Citizens Bank Ballpark.
And that’s the good news.
The Yankees escaped without a COVID casualty instead of a loss or win. As teams hit the road there is more of a chance of positive COVID results.
Aroldis Chapman, on the comeback from COVID, is buying more time with the postponements. Zack Britton got his first save as the interim closer and the Yankees took two of three Sunday in their opening series of this truncated season.
Assume a second COVID test comes back negative, Chapman will return to the roster as to timing of the medical protocols.
The Yankees, as of Tuesday, were still confined and isolated in the city of Brotherly Love. They have their space inside, classified as the bubble and more known as the hotel room on the road. They have had the time to social distance themselves. Still, with limited air travel and hotels there was always a concern about the difficulty in keeping the virus contained.
And manager Aaron Boone, reminding his team about the health protocols, he was scheduled to hold a late Tuesday afternoon workout with his team when they returned to the Bronx.
So, with two back-to-back postponements, not cancelled games as to MLB, the Yankees were scheduled to have their home Opener at the stadium Wednesday afternoon. This was supposed to be a continuation of a home-and-home four-game series with the Phillies.
According to reports, the Phillies were awaiting further saliva test results. The COVID situation at their ballpark and a visit from the infested Marlins has caused this turmoil.
And we await word how the Yankees will set the starting rotation. Normally, if this was the usual postponement, because of inclement weather, it would be a routine But this is a pandemic and a continued change of plans for the manager.
Postponements, though, of any kind do disrupt a starting rotation in a series. This, though, for the Yankees is a dilemma that more than one team will confront if this unusual MLB season is not disrupted or unable to continue.
The issue, unprecedented, is playing back-to-back double-headers that may be necessary because of this truncated season and trying to get every game played on the schedule.
As of Tuesday, no word from Boone and the Yankees. They were meeting and finalizing the pitching plan. Numerous buses were reportedly diverting to Baltimore Wednesday morning.
The Home Opener was not going to be the same without a capacity crowd in the Bronx. With a changing schedule, and no further disruptions, the opening game in the Bronx could occur against the Red Sox Friday,
The Yankees are scheduled to take on their rivals in a three-game series that concludes Sunday night. More time, of course, for Aaron Boone to realign that starting rotation.
Take into consideration the timing for Masahiro Tanaka. His concussion protocol and recovery have granted the Right-hander more time and that will enhance the pitching rotation.
With exception of the Opening Day and rain-shortened win, a Yankees debut for Gerrit Cole, went to plan. Cole would be expected to get his second start Wednesday which would bypass the scheduled start for J.A. Happ.
It is becoming more obvious. Aaron Boone, teams, and disrupted in a pandemic season are going to make constant changes with the pitching rotation. MLB is basically taking command of the schedule and going day-by-day in this unprecedented situation.
Of course, this Coronavirus is the opponent. It’s far from over. Basically, the Yankees and baseball are in that position of everything being subject to change as they move forward and maintain their safety.
The assumption is either Happ or James Paxton will follow Thursday. Again, all subject to speculation. Happ, the left-hander struggled against the Nationals Saturday in the Yankees 9-2 loss and recorded only three outs.
So, it is obvious that Boone wants to get a key starter back on the mound as soon as possible. And with more waiting time and adjustments, assuming Tanaka is ready to go, that need to use an open bullpen start can be avoided.
Boone is not concerned about his lineup. We witnessed Giancarlo Stanton and the home run ball in two games against the Nationals, one, his hardest hit since 2018. He is locked in and healthy. Aaron Judge is getting there.
Gleyber Torres, on his fourth year anniversary that made him a Yankee, had a seventh inning home run and go-ahead RBI and three hits in the win Sunday.
Adjustments for the Yankees lineup is not the issue. The pandemic and a rotation is always subject to change in this season of unchartered territory.
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