Yankees' Biggest Red Flags Early in 2022 Season

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2022

Yankees' Biggest Red Flags Early in 2022 Season

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    The New York Yankees have looked like the team to beat in the American League for much of the 2022 season, led by an MVP-caliber season from Aaron Judge, a starting rotation that has been among the best in baseball and a bullpen with no shortage of weapons.

    However, there are still some red flags they will need to navigate in the weeks and months to come if they are going to take home the AL East title for just the second time in 10 years.

    Bullpen aces Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga are off to rocky starts and now on the injured list, the injury bug is starting to rear its ugly head again beyond just those two relievers, and clutch hitting has been an issue despite the team's terrific start.

    Ahead, we've taken a closer look at the Yankees' biggest red flags through the first two months of the season.

The Early Struggles of Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga

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    Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga were both rock-solid options at the back of the Yankees bullpen last year, and they were counted on to anchor the relief corps once again, but things have not gone according to plan.

    • Chapman 2021: 61 G, 30/34 SV, 3.36 ERA, 6.1 BB/9, 15.5 K/9
    • Chapman 2022: 17 G, 9/9 SV, 3.86 ERA, 6.4 BB/9, 9.6 K/9
    • Loaisiga 2021: 57 G, 18 HLD, 2.17 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, 8.8 K/9
    • Loaisiga 2022: 18 G, 6 HLD, 7.02 ERA, 5.4 BB/9, 9.7 K/9

    Luckily, sinkerballer Clay Holmes has stepped forward as a dominant late-inning option, but getting those two key relief arms back to performing at the level they did a year ago is going to be important to the team's success going forward.

    Chapman is dealing with Achilles tendinitis and Loaisiga has shoulder inflammation, so the first step will be getting healthy.

The Injury Bug Is Back

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    Giancarlo Stanton
    Giancarlo StantonSarah Stier/Getty Images

    Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga are not the only big names currently on the injured list.

    Fellow reliever Chad Green was also lost for the year following Tommy John surgery, while Josh Donaldson (shoulder inflammation) and Giancarlo Stanton (ankle inflammation) were both placed on the IL in a span of four days late last month.

    DJ LeMahieu is handling the everyday third base duties and Miguel Andujar is getting an extended look in left field, but the injury bug is something that has snowballed on the Yankees in years past, and the roster can only be stretched so thin before it becomes a bigger issue once again.

    Keeping the starting rotation healthy might be the biggest X-factor to the team's ongoing success.

A .230 Average with Runners in Scoring Position

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    Josh Donaldson
    Josh DonaldsonSarah Stier/Getty Images

    The Yankees rank among the MLB leaders in team OPS (.728, seventh), home runs (69, second) and runs scored per game (4.67, seventh), so it might come as a bit of a surprise to learn they've been one of the worst offenses in baseball with runners in scoring position.

    The team's .230 average with runners in scoring position ranks 22nd in the majors, and that's despite strong showings from middle-of-the-order sluggers Giancarlo Stanton (.349 BA, 25 RBI) and Aaron Judge (.289 BA, 20 RBI) in those run-production situations.

    Despite all of the big names already on the roster, don't be surprised if the front office targets a big bat at the trade deadline in hopes of jump-starting the bottom half of the batting order.

    A left-handed hitting outfield bat would be ideal, especially if the Yankees plan on cutting their losses with free-agent-to-be Joey Gallo and flipping him in a separate deal.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Tuesday's games.