Yankees Thoughts: Now This Is a Lineup That Can Win

Now featuring lineup balance, Yankees can go on a two-month run

The Yankees took two out of three in Tampa, which was good, but more importantly, the Yankees made a pair of impact trades prior to the trade deadline for the first time in three years.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.

1. Yes, I would have signed up for the Yankees winning two out of three at the Trop this week. That’s exactly what I projected they need to do in the three-game in my rest-of-the-season pacing to get them to 96 wins, to win the division and to win me my preseason wager on over 95.5. Here is an updated look at that pacing:

Marlins: 2-1
Orioles: 7-2
Mariners: 3-1
Royals: 2-1
Angels: 3-1
Red Sox: 4-2
Blue Jays: 5-2
Twins: 3-1
A’s: 2-2
Mets: 2-1
White Sox: 2-1
Braves: 1-1
Indians: 2-1
Rangers: 2-1

2. But when you win the first two games of a series and have Gerrit Cole pitching in the third game, that’s a game you have to win. Instead, the Yankees fell to 3-10 when they have a chance to sweep a series (4-10 if you count their two-game sweep over the Phillies), and they fell to 10-11 in games started by Cole. That’s awful.

3. I should have known better thinking the Yankees would complete the sweep of the Rays and cut their loss-column deficit to the Rays to four games and their loss-column deficit to the Red Sox to six games. A Cole start combined with a chance to go for a sweep combined with a weekday afternoon game couldn’t have made it more predictable the Yankees would lose the game.

4. Not only did they lose, but they were embarrassed. Cole allowed a first-pitch home run that was overturned to be a foul ball, though that was a precursor of things to come. Four batters into the game, the Rays had a 4-0 lead and hadn’t made an out in what was another shit start by Cole against the Rays and Red Sox this season.

5. Here is Cole’s line against the Rays this season:
24.2 IP, 20 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 4 BB, 39 K, 2 HR, 5.11 ERA, WHIP

Here is his line against the Red Sox this season:
16 IP, 19 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 6 BB, 25 K, 4 HR, 5.06 ERA, WHIP

It’s nice that Cole pitched a complete game shutout against the Astros a few weeks ago, and it’s nice that he has dominated the Orioles, Tigers and Indians this season. At some point he needs to beat the Rays and Red Sox with some consistency, considering they are the two teams separating the Yankees from being buried in the standings and holding a playoff spot.

4. The idea Kyle Higashioka should catch Cole was always a joke, but it’s more comical than ever given the performance of the duo on Thursday, or against the Red Sox a month ago, or against the Mets or Rangers. Higashioka should almost never play, and when he does “need” to play, it shouldn’t have to come when Cole is pitching. There’s absolutely nothing special between the two.

6. Thursday’s game should be the last time Brett Gardner plays in a game as a Yankee. He can’t hit, he can’t get on base, when he’s on base he can’t steal and his defense has looked like Miguel Andujar’s at times this season, including Thursday. The Yankees gave Gardner one one-year deal too many, and now he’s wasting a roster spot because the Yankees don’t seem to want to give him the Alex Rodriguez treatment and force Gardner into a midseason retirement the way they did to A-Rod back in 2016.

The same goes for Rougned Odor and Tyler. No more Higashioka. No more Gardner. No more Odor. No more Wade. No more throwing away games after the Yankees threw away too many of their first 101 games. They shouldn’t play any of those names again and they don’t need to after trading for Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo.

7. It’s odd and frustrating the Yankees stood pat at the 2019 trade deadline when they were arguably the best team in baseball and on their way to a rather easy division title or in 2020 when eight teams were going to the playoffs, and they were in a better spot than they were as of Wednesday afternoon (before the first trade for Gallo). The Yankees don’t currently hold a postseason spot and have loss-columns deficit of two to the A’s, six to the Rays and seven to the Red Sox in order to acquire a playoff spot. Right now, the Yankees’ seemingly only realistic chance at reaching the playoffs is as the second wild card, and what do they get out of that? They would have to go on the road and use Cole, and even if they win, they are now going on the road for the first two games of the ALDS, unable to use Cole until Game 3 at the earliest.

8. Trading for Gallo and Rizzo is Yankees front office admitting they were wrong to think they could win with an all-right-handed lineup. It’s also an admission that a collection of Aaron Hicks, Gardner and Odor was never going to be good enough to get the Yankees anywhere, certainly not the World Series. It’s unfortunate it took the Yankees several years and 101 games of this season to give in to their stubbornness to not have lineup balance. Now the team needs to go and win at a near .700 pace in order to get where they are expected to be.

9. This needs to be the Yankees’ lineup:

DJ LeMahieu, 2B
Aaron Judge, RF
Joey Gallo, LF
Giancarlo Stanton, DH
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Gary Sanchez, C/Gleyber Torres, SS
Gleyber Torres, SS/Gary Sanchez, C
Gio Urshela, 3B
Greg Allen, CF

Or if the Yankees stop lying and do actually play Stanton in the outfield, this:

DJ LeMahieu, 2B
Aaron Judge, RF/CF
Joey Gallo, CF/RF
Giancarlo Stanton, LF
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Luke Voit, DH
Gary Sanchez, C/Gleyber Torres, SS
Gleyber Torres, SS/Gary Sanchez, C
Gio Urshela, 3B

Those are both lineups I can get behind. Those are lineups that can produce. Those are lineups, that if the starting pitching is just average, the bullpen doesn’t continue to ruin games and if Aaron Boone only makes logical decisions (the hardest of all of these things to happen), the Yankees can go on the kind of 43-18 run that’s needed for them to win the division.

10. The Yankees’ next 13 games are against the Marlins (3), Orioles (3), Mariners (4) and Royals (3). Meanwhile, the Rays and Red Sox play each other this weekend and still have to play each other 13 times. The math is horrible and essentially labels the Yankees’ chances at winning the division as a miracle. But if the front office can admit they were wrong with their roster construction like they did with the two trades then anything is possible, including the Yankees winning 43 of their remaining 61 games.

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