The Yankees finally won a game. All it took was a 21-year-old starting pitcher who hadn’t appeared in a major league game 12 days ago to prevent the team from falling under .500 for the first time this season.
Last season, I wrote the Off Day Dreaming blogs on every off day, but this season there aren’t many off days. There aren’t many games. So instead, I have decided to use the Off Day Dreaming format following each series. Yankees Thoughts will be posted after each series this season.
Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.
1. After benching Gary Sanchez didn’t work to end the Yankees’ losing streak and Brian Cashman traveling with the team didn’t work to end the Yankees’ losing streak and a team meeting didn’t work to end the Yankees’ losing streak, it ended up being Deivi Garcia that did work to end the Yankees’ losing streak. Garcia is the Yankees’ best pitcher. That’s not an exaggeration. Right now, he’s the team’s best pitcher. It’s certainly not Gerrit Cole, who has lost three straight starts and has allowed more home run than any other pitcher in the league. You could make a case for Masahiro Tanaka, but he only just started to give the Yankees any length in his starters. And obviously it’s not Jordan Montgomery, J.A. Happ or Michael King.
Aside from watching DJ LeMahieu try to win a batting title, Luke Voit become one of the best hitters in baseball and Clint Frazier finally put his entire game together, Garcia has been the only other part of the Yankees worth watching this season, and he’s only made three starts. In 17 2/3 innings, he has struck out 18 against just two walks and has looked every bit as good as I hoped he would if he ever made it to the Yankees without getting traded first.
If the Yankees reach the postseason (again I can’t believe not making it is a possibiliy), Garcia has to get the ball in Game 3 (if the Yankees are able to reach a third game of the postseason). Cole will get the ball for Game 1 and Tanaka for Game 2, but there’s no other option in Game 3. Screw James Paxton if he comes back. I don’t want him anywhere near the mound in the postseason. He wasn’t good before he got hurt and now he’s being rushed back and will at best could be an opener. No thank you. Montgomery hasn’t been nearly good enough, and Happ and King would be lucky to even be on the postseason roster.
I knew I would be excited to see a new Yankees pitcher pitch every five days in 2020, I just thought it was going to be Cole, not Garcia.
2. Aaron Boone’s genius plan to bench Sanchez didn’t fix the Yankees’ problems, stop their losing streak or help Sanchez. The Yankees benched Sanchez for two games, scapegoating him for their issues, and they still went 0-2 as part of their five-game losing streak. Since Sanchez has come back, he’s gone 0-for-7 with a walk. It’s almost as if sitting on the bench and not getting at-bats doesn’t help a former star player break out of a horrendous slump. Who could have known?
Like everyone, I wish I knew what was wrong with Sanchez other than the fact he clearly can’t catch up to middle-middle fastballs or recognize a breaking ball. If Sanchez had always hit like this, it would be easy to chalk it up as a typical catcher who can’t hit since almost all of them can’t hit. But everyone knows Sanchez can hit, or used to be able to hit. He hit 53 home runs in 175 games over 2016 and 2017, batting .284/.354/.568. After a rough 2018 regular season (.697 OPS), he single-handedly won the only game of the 2018 ALDS that the Yankees won with a two-home run performance. Last season, he struggled to hit for average (.232) and get on base (.316), but he still managed an .841 OPS with 34 home runs. I don’t know that we’ll ever see 2016-17 Sanchez again, but can we at least get 2019 Sanchez?
3. You might never see an inning as bad as the sixth inning on Monday from the Yankees ever again. The Yankees had a four-run lead and all of their “elite” relievers completely rested.
Chad Green entered for the sixth, and for the third time in two weeks, he didn’t have it. After two walks, a single and a Voit error, the Blue Jays had cut the Yankees’ lead to 6-3 and had the bases loaded and one out. Boone pulled Green and turned to Adam Ottavino, and he didn’t have it either. Ottavino faced six batters and didn’t retire any of them. Three singles, two walks and a grand slam later against Ottavino and the Blue Jays had a 12-6 lead in what was a 10-run inning.
Green and Ottavino combined to produce this line: 0.1 IP, 5 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, 1 HR. The Blue Jays didn’t swing-and-miss at any of their 58 pitches.
4. I was scared the Yankees were going to blow their lead on Wednesday night as well, but thankfully, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman managed to pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth respectively to end the five-game losing streak. I don’t trust anyone in the Yankees’ bullpen right now, but if I had to give my Level of Trust Rankings on a scale of 1-10, this would be it:
Zack Britton: 7.1
Chad Green: 6.4
Aroldis Chapman: 5.8
Adam Ottavino: 3.7
That’s it. No one else is even good enough to make this list. I purposely didn’t put Clarke Schmidt as an option because he’s not a reliever and doesn’t belong coming out of the bullpen.
5. I guess Schmidt (the Yankees’ top pitching prospect) is now the mop-up man on this awful team? That’s how Schmidt was used in his second career appearance, asked to clean up the mess left by Green and Ottavino. Rather than let Schmidt start, which is basically all he has known as a professional pitcher, the Yankees would rather continue to start Happ, who should have run out of chances to start a long, long, long time ago, or King who isn’t any good, having allowed eight earned runs in 10 2/3 innings as a starter and never going more than four innings and giving the team length.
You would think by now the Yankees’ rotation would include both Garcia and Schmidt, but nope. The Yankees want to continue to pitch Happ because of money owed and want to continue to let King start because of … I have no idea why they want to continue to let King start. Maybe at some point this season Schmidt will get to show why he’s the top-ranked pitching prospect in the organization and even higher than Garcia. I just hope it’s not too late before he’s given that chance.
6. Mike Tauchman can’t play anymore. He just can’t. For as good as Tauchman was last season for six weeks, he’s been that bad this season, looking every bit like the player the Rockies gave up on. He has a .647 OPS and five extra-base hits (all doubles) in 95 plate appearances. I have the same amount of home runs as Tauchman this season. On top of his lack of production, his baseball IQ is horrible as he frequently makes awful decisions on the bases and at the plate, whether he’s trying to advance a base on balls in front of him or swinging at 3-1 pitches high and away after the pitcher walked the previous three batters.
I’m sick of seeing Tauchman in the lineup. The only way he should play is if one of Frazier, Aaron Hicks or Brett Gardner is injured.
7. This should be the Yankees’ lineup every night with their current roster:
DJ LeMahieu, 3B
Luke Voit, 1B
Gleyber Torres, SS
Clint Frazier, RF
Miguel Andujar, DH
Aaron Hicks, CF
Gary Sanchez, C
Brett Gardner, LF
Thairo Estrada (preferably)/Tyler Wade, 2B
Unfortunately, Boone would never allow for five right-handed hitters in a row at the top of the lineup, and he would never allow for three of the last four hitters potentially being left-handed. He certainly wouldn’t hit two lefties back-to-back if Gardner were eighth and Wade were playing and ninth. But that’s what the lineup should be.
8. If the Yankees ever get healthy, this is what the lineup should always be:
DJ LeMahieu, 2B
Aaron Judge, RF
Gleyber Torres, SS
Luke Voit, 1B
Giancarlo Stanton, DH
Clint Frazier, LF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Gio Urshela, 3B
Gary Sanchez, C
9. The Yankees were once 16-6. Now they’re 22-21. They were once in first place in the AL East. Now they’re in third place. They were once the 1-seed in the AL playoffs. Now they’re the 8-seed. The Yankees have fallen apart this season to the point that I’m watching the Orioles’ and Tigers’ scores as much as I’m watching the Yankees. I said the Orioles and Tigers! Do you know ridiculous that is? The Orioles lost 108 games last season and the Tigers lost 114, and somehow a year later, the 103-win Yankees are playing at their level. It’s disgusting.
10. I didn’t think a four-game series in September against the Orioles would be a crucial series for the postseason, but here we are as if it’s 2012. There’s 17 games left, and the Yankees need to win all of them. Had they played with urgency earlier in the season when they were OK with giving away games in Philadelphia and Tampa, they wouldn’t be hanging on to dear life for the final postseason berth in the AL. But the Yankees chose to treat a 60-game season like a 162-game season and the injuries piled up in this 60-game season like they did in last year’s 162-game season and the “Next Man Up” mantra was greatly exposed.
The Yankees have to find a way to hold off the Orioles and Tigers and simultaneously get healthy over the next 20 days. The current team should be good enough to win enough to remain in a postseason spot until the everyday lineup is available. The current team, however, isn’t good enough to compete in October, and if the Yankees don’t get healthy and don’t get Judge and Urshela back (I gave up on Stanton coming back long ago), they aren’t going anywhere in the postseason.
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