The Yankees clinched a spot in the Wild Card game on Saturday with a walk-off, 11th-inning win against the Orioles, which featured a dramatic Didi Gregorius head-first slide into home after the game-winning hit by Aaron Hicks.
It was a fun and memorable moment for the Yankees, at least as a consolation prize for getting buried by the Red Sox in the division race. But it came at a pretty steep cost. On Sunday, Gregorius revealed that he had torn cartilage in his right wrist on that clinching slide, and the injury turns the rest of his season into a question mark.
“We’re going to take it day to day,” he said. “We’ll see how far it goes, but I have some movement in there. They say things like this happen to other players. Some of them have played through it. We’re going to see how it goes. If it feels better, I’ll be back in there so we can still make that playoff decision.”
The loss of Gregorius, who had some big moments in last year’s playoffs, could be huge for the Yankees. The shortstop ranks as their best defender by WAR and their fifth-best hitter with 15.6 offensive runs above average. But just as important as the absence of those numbers would be the Yankees’ struggle to replace Gregorius in any meaningful way. Adeiny Hechavarria—who’s played for three different teams this year and looked like shit at the plate for all of them—is one of Gregorius’s potential replacements at shortstop. Ronald Torreyes is another option who’s been with the team longer, but his .684 OPS in 38 games isn’t exactly inspiring. And Neil Walker, another back-up infielder, has been even worse, putting up a 77 wRC+ in 108 games this season.
This feels like as good a time as any for a reminder that sliding head-first is dangerous, and should only be done when absolutely necessary.