Not only did the team activate veteran starter CC Sabathia from the disabled list on Thursday, but manager Aaron Boone has decided to bump slugger Giancarlo Stanton down a spot in the order as the Bronx Bombers prepare to host the Toronto Blue Jays:
Stanton has hit in the 3-hole all season prior to this move.
The reigning National League MVP got off to a hot start following an offseason trade from the Miami Marlins, hitting two home runs in his Yankees debut. However, he has gone yard only once in the past 15 games and is hitting just .197/.293/.409 on the season.
His struggles have come from his inability to put the ball in play. The 6'6", 245-pound outfielder has already piled up 29 strikeouts, including a pair of five-strikeout performances already this month.
Stanton has always hit southpaws (.295 career average) better than right-handers (.259), but his splits have been more pronounced this season. He is hitting .353 against left-handers in 2018 while producing just a .143 average with one dinger against righties. Not to mention the fact that he is 3-for-35 with 20 strikeouts in the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium this year.
The lineup change has as much to do with Toronto as it does with Stanton.
Aaron Sanchez, Thursday's starter for the Blue Jays, has held right-handed hitters to a .212 batting average over his five-year career, including a .128 clip this season. That has Boone wanting to make a change, but not a drastic change.
"No, I'm not ready to move him down, down in the order," Boone said, per ESPN's Cole Harvey. "He's too close to finding that feeling to where he can lock in, so I have no intentions of moving him down further."
The New York skipper explained why dropping the four-time All-Star to the clean-up spot could put him in a position to succeed.
"I still want him surrounded by impact guys. Because as I said after the game [Tuesday], you move him down and all of a sudden he's one good at-bat maybe from getting locked back in, and then all of a sudden you're in a situation where it's a blatant pitch-around and those kind of things."
The Yankees rank seventh in all of baseball in both average and home runs—and that's with a struggling Stanton. Perhaps moving out of the 3-hole will take some pressure off and help him get back to mashing the ball.
As for Sabathia, the Yankees will be reinserting their veteran left-hander back into the rotation now that he's healthy. The 37-year-old southpaw had allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits in nine innings over his first two starts of the season before landing on the DL with a left hamstring strain.