The Yankees called Gio Urshela up early in this season out of necessity more than any other reason. If this team remained healthy up to this point, there is virtually no chance that we would have seen him yet.
We have seen Urshela, though, and I think Yankee fans can finally all agree on one thing: we want to see a lot more of him.
Urshela has made it impossible to sit him. Even with Miguel Andujar returned from injury, Urshela has stayed at third base and Miggy has been the DH, primarily. It’s only been a few games, but it makes sense.
His defense has always been an incredibly strong part of his game. Until this season, it had been pretty much the only part of his game. It genuinely feels like every single night there is a play from Gio that makes you ooh and aah. Miggy’s defense is bad. Like he’s the worst in the league at playing third base and it shows. He’s actually as bad at playing third as people like to claim Gary Sanchez is at playing catcher. True story.
It’s his offense that’s keeping him on the field, though. Gio keeps hitting the ball all over the field. Tuesday night he was 2-4, including a double and the game-tying home run in the ninth inning.
Last night’s game brought his season batting line to a whopping .360/.424/.547 (161 wRC+) triple slash line. That is 79 wRC+ points above his ZiPS projected number: 82 wRC+, which would have been bad. He’s been good, though!
So, is this a real change in Urshela’s game, or is it just going to be a blip on the radar and the story of a fun month of baseball from an unsuspected hero?
The way Boone talks about him, I’m starting to think the Yankees believe this offense is real, and the sample size is starting to get to the point where I’m inclined to believe it. He’s played 27 games now and has 85 plate appearances. That’s not a massive sample, but it’s not nothing. Not at all.
Boone and co. have said they’ve been impressed with Urshela’s swing since he reported to spring training this year, and he really did look good at the plate. He flashed a lot of power and we all already knew what he could do with the glove. It’s not remotely unprecedented for guys in their late 20s- Urshela is 27- to suddenly put it all together and have a strong career (See: Voit, Luke; Cruz, Nelson).
What do we do from here? The rest of the roster is still largely unhealthy. Namely, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge still have virtually no timetables set on a return date. Andujar’s labrum is still technically torn anyway, so there is still a clear avenue for playing time where the Yanks continue to play Andujar at DH and Urshela at third most of the time. If this has all been a blip on the radar, then they should keep riding out the blip. Eventually, Didi Gregorius will be back, and if the rest of the roster is healthy, then it may start to get challenging. Let’s not worry about a great problem for the team to have until it is actually a present issue, though, shall we?
To reiterate: if this is all just one insane hot streak, they should let it run its course. At this point though, I think Urshela has earned the right to continue to play through a slump, whenever that eventually happens, especially with that glove.