Yankees Thoughts: Season Falling Apart

Yankees another bad week from being out of division race

The Yankees spent the first three weeks of May erasing all the damage they did to themselves in April. They have spent the last week undoing the first three weeks of May. As June begins, the April Yankees are here.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.

1. If you have watched every pitch of every Yankees game in 2021, well, first, I’m sorry, and second, you have given this horrible team 149 hours and 43 minutes of your life. That’s six days, five hours and 43 minutes you will never get back. I apologize for that realization.

2. The Yankees are in trouble. A lot of trouble. They were allowed a mulligan for their disastrous April because the Rays and Blue Jays also had bad opening months, and no one ran away with the division. That’s no longer the case. The Yankees have fallen apart again, losing six out of seven, and their recent play has coincided with the Rays winning 16 of 17. The Rays are now 5 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees.

The Yankees are very close to playing for a wild-card berth. A 5 1/2-game Rays lead isn’t a mirage, the way it would be if the Red Sox had a 5 1/2-game lead. Even if the Yankees were to win two of the three remaining games against the Rays in the current four-game series, they would only cut one game off the deficit, and three more games would have come off the schedule and three more head-to-head games at that. The math is starting to work against the Yankees and they are a bad rest of the week against the Rays and Red Sox from being buried for good in the division.

3. I would gladly sign up for the second wild-card berth if I were the Yankees right now. To win the division, they will have to outlast the Rays (who already have that 5 1/2-game lead) and the Blue Jays (who are 6-3 against the Yankees). Two of those three teams will be playing for a wild-card berth. Add in the Red Sox, possibly the Indians and one of the Astros and A’s, and that’s five teams for two spots. So yeah, today on June 1, I would sign up for the Yankees going on the road for one game and burning Gerrit Cole for Game 1 of the ALDS. That’s how badly things have turned for the Yankees.

4. Losing two out of three to the Blue Jays last week for the third time this season was bad, but losing all three games in Detroit to the Tigers was simply unacceptable. The Yankees have now scored two runs or less in nine of their last 12 games, which seems impossible to do, but they have done it.

“This is just a bad ending to a terrible weekend,” Aaron Boone said after Sunday’s loss. “And we’ve gotta get better.

Boone repeats himself a lot, but there’s no phrase he has used more in 202 than “we’ve gotta get better.” It was used daily in April and it’s made a comeback here over the last week with the offense’s season-long disappearing act.

No shit the team has to get better. The Yankees have now played 54 games and one-third of the season and have as many runs scored as the Orioles, who have lost 14 straight and are on pace for 110 losses, and 71 runs less than the Rays, who don’t have near the names or payroll for position players the Yankees have. The offense to get better and they have to get better now. I don’t mean “now” in general to the near future. I mean “now” as in today.

5. On Friday, Boone used Aroldis Chapman with the game tied 1-1 in the ninth. Chapman had recently been sick and hadn’t pitched in five days. He threw 14 pitches in a scoreless ninth, but wasn’t brought back out for the fifth. Instead, Justin Wilson came in for the 10th with the Yankees holding a one-run lead. Wilson blew the game, allowing a walk-off home run, his fourth home run allowed in 13 innings.

After the game, Meredith Marakovits asked Boone, “Did you give any consideration to using Chapman in the 10th?”

“No,” Boone bluntly answered.

No? NO? NO?!?!?!? How did you not even “consider” that option? Because it was asking him to throw more than 14 pitches? In Chapman’s previous 19 appearances this season, he has thrown more than 14 pitches in 10 of them. Was it because he would have to sit and then get back up? There’s zero evidence that leads to injury or a drop in performance. Because he was recently sick? So he’s healthy enough to pitch, just not more than 14 pitches because he was recently sick. Is that what the Yankees’ injury prevention strategy book says?

6. After Monday’s 3-1 loss to the Rays, Boone was asked about the offense not showing up again. He didn’t blame his offense for another embarrassing performance, instead choosing to tip his cap to Rays starter Rich Hill.

“Well, first, Hill obviously shut us down and was real pitch efficient there through five.”

Boone had the same compliments for Casey Mize and Spencer Turnbull of the Tigers. He similarly complimented Hill earlier in the year, along with Michael Wacha, Matt Harvey, Joe Ross, Jordan Lyles, Steven Matz and every other starter who seems to always have their best stuff against the Yankees. In reality, they are mediocre and the Yankees make them look great.

The magic number for opposing teams against the Yankees is four runs. Opponents are 20-5 against the Yankees when they score at least four runs because of the Yankees’ lack of offense. The Yankees struggle to scratch across three runs in most games (they have scored runs two runs or less in nine of their last 12 games) and four seems like 10 (they have only scored double-digit runs once in 54 games). The offense has pissed away and has lost four starts from Gerrit in which he allowed two earned runs or less.

The Yankees scored seven runs in three games against the Blue Jays and then five runs in three games against the Tigers. They followed that up with one run in the series opener against the Rays.

7. In The Office, David Wallace asked Michael Scott his business philosophy. Here was his answer:

“My philosophy is, basically this. And this is something that I live by. And I always have. And I always will. Don’t, ever, for any reason, do anything, to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what, no matter where, or who or who you are with, or where you are going, or where you’ve been. Ever. For any reason. Whatsoever.”

After losing for the seventh time in 10 games against the Rays, Lindsey Adler asked Aaron Boone what the Yankees’ offensive philosophy is. Here was his answer:

“When you get done with us in a series, you know even if you’ve had success on a given day, or success in a given series where a guy’s pitched really well, you know we want you to feel like it was heavy, it was difficult, it was a lot to get through us.”

There’s no difference in the two answers.

8. What was Boone’s evaluation of Jameson Taillon’s latest loss?

“I thought he threw the ball well,” Taillon said. “I thought overall, I thought he threw the ball pretty well, and I thought stuff-wise was good today.”

The term and stat “quality start” is shit. Three earned runs in six innings is shit. A 4.50 ERA is shit. But if it’s going to be used as a measuring stick then Taillon isn’t coming close to being average. He has gotten an out in the sixth inning in just one of his 10 starts and has recorded one “quality start” in 10 starts. He doesn’t give the Yankees length and the amount of innings he does give them aren’t any good.

How could anyone think Taillon threw the ball well? The Rays had baserunners the entire day. Boone loves to use the word “traffic” to describe runners on base, well, it looked like FDR Drive at a 5 p.m. on a Friday against Taillon. At least, Boone’s streak of thinking his starting pitcher had “good stuff” is still alive.

9. This weekend, Boone offered his opinion on what needs to change to turn things around.

“We haven’t mounted enough and scored enough runs to win ballgames and we’re certainly capable of it,” Boone said. “That starts with me and the coaching staff making sure we’re putting these guys in the best position to be successful.”

It shouldn’t be hard to fill out the Yankees’ lineup card, yet not a day goes by that Boone doesn’t leave his lineup to be second-guessed. One day Rougned Odor will bat second then the next day ninth then the next day out of the lineup. Brett Gardner will bat ninth … or leadoff … or third. Sometimes they will both play against a lefty, sometimes neither of them will. Mike Ford rarely plays, but when he does, he bats fifth. Gary Sanchez bats behind both Odor and Ford. Kyle Higashioka continues to get regular playing time. None of it makes sense.

Boone rarely, if ever, puts his position players in the best position to succeed. The same goes for his bullpen. The only person in the world who thought Wilson should pitch the 10th inning on Friday was Boone. I’m sure Wilson himself wondered what Boone was doing when he was told to start warming up. Boone used Nick Nelson earlier in the season as if he were Chad Green, the same way he used to use Jonathan Holder. He does this because is truly has no idea what he’s doing.

10. Boone continues this player or that player will be fine. He continues to say his team will hit and they have to be better. They are only empty promises with no urgency behind them.

With three games remaining against the Rays this week and then three against the Red Sox, if there isn’t going to be urgency now, there will never be.

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