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It’s a light mailbag this week with only three questions to answer. All three are good ones, however! Remember to send your questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com to be considered for future editions of the mailbag. Away we go:

Paul asks: What’s the longest stretch the Yankees have gone this season without putting someone on the IL?

22 days. From July 2nd to July 24th, the Yankees did place anyone on the injured list. That span was from Luke Voit’s abdominal injury suffered in London to Gary Sánchez’s groin strain near the end of the month.

Other than that, the Yankees have a few other stretches ranging from 10 to 14 days between injured list stints. The second longest was between Jake Barrett and Domingo Germán, which was between May 26th and June 9th.

Let’s go a little further into the numbers. On average, the Yankees put someone on the injured list every six days this season. That’s just absurd. Basically, you could count on one fairly significant injury per week this season.

To add insult to injury, there were five instances when the Yankees put players on the injured list on back-to-back days:

  1. April 3 (CC Sabathia) and April 4 (Troy Tulowitzki)
  2. July 24 (Gary Sánchez) and July 25 (Brett Gardner)
  3. August 3 (Edwin Encarnación) and August 4 (Aaron Hicks)
  4. August 10 (Jonathan Holder) and August 11 (Stephen Tarpley)
  5. August 30 (Gio Urshela) and August 31 (CC Sabathia)

Steven asks: Is there anything in the numbers to suggest which team would be the best first round opponent for the Yankees, and in contrast, the worst first round opponent for the Astros would be? No numbers to back this up, but in a short series, the A’s are pretty scary. I’d almost prefer to face the Twins and let the Astros deal with the Wild Card winner. Thoughts?

Steven covered this pretty well last week. I don’t know if there’s any particular team that is the “best” first round opponent for the Yankees because the Bombers are undoubtedly better than Minnesota, Oakland, Tampa Bay, and Cleveland. Weird things can happen in a short five game series, but there’s no reason for the Yankees not to beat any of those four clubs. Same for Houston — it would be a massive failure for them not to advance to the ALCS.

Head-to-head matchups, especially against teams in other divisions that are only faced six or seven times a season, aren’t necessarily predictive of what’s to come. But, considering how well the Yankees handled Tampa Bay, I think they’re the preferential first round opponent. Obviously, the Yankees will need home field advantage for that to be a possibility.

Aside from 12 wins in 17 games against the Rays, Tampa Bay’s offense isn’t scary. They are 9th in the American League in runs scored and don’t possess any game breaking offensive players. There’s no question that the Rays have a deep pitching staff, but I’ll take my chances against them.

The toughest potential opponent for Houston (and the Yankees) probably is indeed Oakland. Of all the potential matchups, the A’s are perhaps the most balanced team. They can hit with the best of ’em and have a strong pitching staff to boot. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s offense is actually worse than Tampa Bay’s, though their pitching is deep like the Rays’. Minnesota arguably will have the toughest time preventing runs in the playoffs, but I still wouldn’t sleep on them. They can hit for a ton of power which keeps them in games.

But again, the Yankees and Astros should be on a collision course for the ALCS. Even though some of their first round opponents may be tougher than others, the Yankees and Astros are still cream of the crop in the American League.

Jack asks: We’ve now lost Gary Sánchez to injury trying to steal a base and Aaron Judge put himself at risk diving for a meaningless fly ball in a game against the Angels. With the players and relievers the team is running out now, it’s clear the organization is taking the foot off the gas. I know the adage that you don’t play to try and avoid injury, but you also don’t have to put yourself in stupid situations, right?

There’s something to this, yes, but there’s also a difference between making a smart play and making an instinctual play.

In Judge’s case, or any outfielders’ case, it’s difficult to prevent a diving attempt in the heat of the moment. If Judge thinks he has a chance to get a ball, he’s going to try for it no matter what the situation calls for. It’s similar to pitchers trying to snag comebackers with their bare hand or runners sliding into first base. You can tell those guys to be careful on the field, but sometimes what happens between the lines cannot be stopped.

On the flip side, Sánchez’s stolen base attempt should never have happened. First and foremost, Gary isn’t a base stealer so the decision was bizarre regardless of the situation. It looks worse with added context. The Yankees were already up 3-0 against a terrible Detroit team with the playoffs just weeks away. This one can’t be excused because of instincts; rather, it was a foolish risk to take that he should have considered beforehand. And of course, it backfired. Sánchez hurt his groin on the play. I know Aaron Boone covered for his catcher’s decision, but that was really just an attempt to shield Gary. I doubt Boone actually called for that attempt. Thankfully, it sounds like Gary won’t miss any postseason action.