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Perspectives: August 30, 2021

by Paul Semendinger

August 30, 2021

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I agree with all the writers and fans that there is no reason to panic after the Yankees have lost two consecutive games to end the weekend and the series with Oakland. Teams lose. I get that. We all get that.

My big worry though is that the team is going to slowly (or not so slowly) morph back into the team it was before they got so hot in July. As Gio Urshela comes back and then Gleyber Torres, the team will add two right-handed bats. The lineup would then be without the speed and energy of Rougned Odor, Andrew Velazquez, and Tyler Wade. I think the team suffers a bit with this exchange.

This is the crazy part about baseball, really all sports…it’s not just accumulating the right talent, it’s about how those players all work together as parts of a whole. The best teams are the ones that are greater than the sum of their parts.

It is very logical and accurate to state that Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres are greater than the combined Odor, Velazquez, and Wade mix. If one were building a fantasy team, or a Strat-o-Matic team, or a computer baseball team, he would take Urshela and Torres, always, over the others. But, the concern is how all the pieces fit together. In real life, the spark that Odor, Velazquez, and Wade brought was invaluable. Could it have lasted? Would it have lasted? Who knows? But that’s my concern. To me, in 2021, Urshela and Torres, each good enough ball players in their own right, were part of the problem with the 2021 Yankees. Their play in 2021 has been uninspiring. The Yankees started to win once they were out of the lineup. This could be just a fluke of small sample sizes, or whatever, but Rougned Odor, Tyler Wade, and Andrew Velazquez brought a special spark. That spark (to say nothing of the lineup balance) is something that I hope the Yankees do not miss down the stretch. I am afraid they will.

Corey Kluber starts tonight. I have high hopes that he can be a difference maker, but I do not expect any of that type of performance for at least a few starts. The hope, for me, is that he rounds into shape in time for the playoffs.

If I were the Yankees, I would be very very cautious with Luis Severino. If he makes it back (I don’t think he will), the temptation to use him in a big spot, or in some big spots, might cloud the injury risk. He himself might push a little too hard to help the Yankees in a critical spot. Severino, if he is the long term answer, needs to be treated with kid gloves in 2021. It looks like 2022 will also have to be a year to build him back up. 2023 might be the year the Yankees can finally turn with hopes to him being the pitcher they hoped he’d be…in 2017 and 2018.

Tampa is now pulling away in the division. They are six games up on the Yankees. Tampa has 32 games left in the season. If they go 16-16 the rest of the way, they’ll end with 98 wins. To catch them, the Yankees (who also have 32 games remaining) would have to go 22-10. Even considering how well the Yankees have played these last two months, that seems like an almost impossible task.

Will it take 98+ wins to win the division? If so, the Yankees have a huge mountain to climb.

Here’s the big question – If the Yankees get to the wild card game and lose, was it a successful season? I say no. That’s how I feel right now. While we have to appreciate and love how great the Yankees did in July and August, that does not take away from how ugly they played in the months previous. A loss in April and May counts just as much as a loss in September. The Yankees put themselves in a deep hole. That hole was so deep that the longest winning streak in 60 years couldn’t get them totally out of it.

It should be a fun September. Anything can happen. Tampa could fall apart. The Yankees could stay red hot. Gleyber Torres could come back and hit .400 for the month. Corey Kluber could go 5-0. Who knows? This is the fun of the sport.

I will hope and hope and hope that the Yankees just keep on keeping on…

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Let’s Go Yankees!

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