First Pitch: How bad can it get?

April, 6, 2013
4/06/13
7:00
AM ET
DETROIT -- The law of averages says you can't lose every game, but there's no law that says you can't lose every player.

And while the New York Yankees have already proven the validity of the first law by beating the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night, the pitch that homed in on Eduardo Nunez' bicep in the fourth inning of Friday's game against the Detroit Tigers seemed to support the possibility of the second.

Luckily for the Yankees, Doug Fister's fastball didn't break any bones, although it remains to be seen how much damage was done to the soft tissue in Nunez' upper arm, and how soon he will be able to get back on the field.

Which leads us to a disturbing but rather obvious question: How much worse can things get for the Yankees this season?

There's no doubt that for the past 17 years, the Yankees have led something of a charmed life, because not only have they been very, very good, they have also been very, very fortunate in never suffering the kind of wholesale roster decimation due to injury that often happens to baseball teams over the course of a 162-game season.

But the evidence is mounting that this might be the year the worm turns on the Yankees. In some sense, it may have been inevitable since so many of their key players are aging and the human body does have a tendency to break down in its late 30s and early 40s.

Still, the rash of injuries that has struck this team so far has been remarkable, and while the Yankees expect Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson to return on schedule in early May, there is no real timetable for when Derek Jeter will play again, or Alex Rodriguez, for that matter.

And from what we've seen so far, in an admittedly small sample, they are going to be a lot harder to replace, even on a temporary basis, than anyone could have imagined. In their heydays, Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay were all good to very good ballplayers. But even at their best, they were never Jeter or A-Rod or Teixeira or the Granderson we have seen over the past couple of years, and especially in 2011.

Add to that the fact that the pitching, expected to be a strength of this team, has underperformed its first time around, and you have the beginnings of what could be a very rough first month or two of the season.

Of course, we've seen other Yankees teams lose three of their first four games, or even start out 0-3, and go on to excellent seasons. The 1998 team comes to mind, as does last year's AL East champion, which won 95 games.

But this one feels different, because those other teams had guys you felt you could count on. This team, you just don't know about yet. And from what you've seen so far, the signs are not promising.

So I throw it out to you: What will the Yankees record be at the end of April? One and 27? Fourteen and fourteen? Twenty-five and three?

Take your best guess and let us know in the comments section. Remember, we've already established they can't lose 'em all. The question is, how many can they win?

UP NOW: My late-breaking newser on the Yankees' post-game decision to rush Phil Hughes back into service on Saturday in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Also, Ivan Nova's curious self-assessment, the discouraging prognosis on Jeter and some other blog items off Friday's 8-3 loss.

ON DECK: Hughes (16-13, 4.23 last year) faces RHP Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74 last year) in a 4:05 p.m. start. Clubhouse opens at 12:35 and I'll be there with the lineup and pregame notes, so check in early afternoon. And as always, thanks for reading.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146