Exactly seven weeks ago today, the Yankees were shutout by the Royals at Yankee Stadium. It was a loss that cut their record to .500 and dropped their spot in the standings to last place. One thing you might notice about the box score: Every single Yankee who played in that game is still on the roster and still playing a significant role.
When the Yankees hit rock botton, they asked for patience and indicated that they would not make any sort of panic move. And they didn’t. In the past seven weeks, the team has climbed into first place and built the best record in baseball with essentially the exact same roster that they had when they were at the bottom of the division.
These are the most significant moves they’ve made during this surge to the top of the standings.
May 29: Claim Ryota Igarashi
He came up for a while when Freddy Garcia went on the bereavement list, and again when the Yankees put both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the disabled list on the same day. It says a lot that this is one of the most important player moves of these past seven weeks.
June 14: Activate Dave Robertson from disabled list
After sitting out a full month, Robertson finally came back in the middle of June. He’s easily the most significant roster addition during this span. He hasn’t been quite as consistent as he was during the first month and a half, but he arrived just as Cory Wade was starting to fall apart. Good timing.
June 27: Place CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the disabled list
Technically the Pettitte move didn’t happen until the 28th, but you get the idea. This was the day the Yankees lost two of their starters (two very good starters, at that). The Yankees would immediately react by adding Adam Warren for a spot start, but Warren’s debut was a mess. The move that helped a little more was…
June 29: Recall David Phelps
Sent down when Robertson was activated, Phelps had been optioned only so that he could be stretched out as a starter. He arrived to piggyback Warren, then he delivered a strong — but brief — start in Tampa, helped the Yankees avoid a sweep and giving some momentum heading into this weekend’s series in Boston.
July 1: Trade for Chad Qualls
The Yankees don’t need Qualls to be a setup man. They just need him to be better than Cory Wade. When the Yankees needed Wade. he was terrific, but his season turned south and the Yankees decided to take a low-risk chance on Qualls. He might be nothing more than space-filler until Joba Chamberlain comes off the disabled list, but so far he’s been effective in a limited role.
July 4: Claim Darnell McDonald
The Yankees didn’t need a fifth starter over the weekend, and they won’t need one for those first few days after the All-Star break. That’s why McDonald made sense, because he could fill a roster spot that might otherwise have been wasted. He started both games of Saturday’s doubleheader and will be most remembered for causing Curtis Granderson to drop a fly ball.