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Scattered Yankees Musings Through 42 Games

by Patrick Gunn

May 14, 2024


Not all of you may know this, but I moved to Reading for a job in late 2021. One of the many difficult aspects of this is not only living outside of Yankees’ territory, but I work evenings. That makes it harder to watch most Yankees games. And the last two seasons - 2023 in particular - haven’t provided many reasons to stick around throughout the season. The team has seemed to crater in the last two Augusts, and being farther away makes it harder to get as invested in Yankees baseball as I used to.

This season has felt different. The Bombers have gotten off to good starts in the past, but the energy is better, the resolve is stronger, and the mentality on and off the field looks and sounds clearer. This team took their struggles from last season to heart and reflected, now everyone is elevating each other. I may not be watching every game like in the past, but I’m excited to keep watching this team compete for nine innings when I can. Some early thoughts:

  • Favorite Player to Watch: Juan Soto. What else is there to say? The stats and the eye test combine to present a superstar: he’s hitting the ball hard, working counts, and having fun while doing everything. The latter is a change, as his emotion and the way you can see him thinking through at-bats and reacting to pitches and plays has clearly brought something out of the team; it’s an emotion Yankees rarely show nowadays. You can have respect for the Yankees way and also need a change (and for the Yankees to drop the beard/hair policy). Did I mention Soto’s been positive on defense (+2 Statcast fielding value). It’s been a pleasure to watch Soto in Pinstripes and my only request is that Cashman and the Steinbrenners get their blank check ready for him in the offseason.

  • Biggest Surprise: the Rotation. I had skepticism coming into the season that their starting five would hold up with Gerrit Cole’s health in question. Needless today, I did not have the Yankees pitching this well and showing room for growth. They’re 17th through FanGraphs WAR through May 12th and they haven’t all clicked together yet. And the pitchers I was most concerned about - Luis Gil and Clarke Schmidt - might be their two best starters right now? Gil in particular has opened my eyes, improving his efficiency and reaching at least six innings over his last few starts. He throws hard at all times, generates awkward swings, and gets soft contact. He does walk too many batters, but he’s pitching around that well. Meanwhile, Schmidt has picked up where he left off from last year. At times, he looks dominant - when he attacks and gets ahead. He needs to be more consistent and finish innings, but he’s on the right track. Nestor Cortes Jr. might have a deceptive 4.02 ERA (like his deliveries); he’s been pitching much better than that over his last few starts and has several (the Miami performance, the Tigers game) where he’s looked like his all-star self. Most importantly, since his poor Cleveland start, Cortes has finished at least six innings in all but one start, with only a couple poor innings over that span. I think Cortes has a good run in him. Carlos Rodón and Marcus Stroman have been the least consistent; Rodón has a lot of moments where he struggles immensely; and Stroman’s control dipping (11.8 BB%, two five-walk starts) was not on my bingo card. But they’ve both shown flashes of greatness and both have, for the most part, kept the Yankees in games. Bottom line, the rotation may not be perfect, but it’s held up very well so far, especially with Cole on the mend.

  • Biggest question mark: middle relief. Shoutout to Clay Holmes, he’s had to do a lot early this season and he’s gone through this point without allowing an earned run. He has looked dominant most of the time and when he hasn’t, he’s figured it out. The patch to Holmes in the ninth has been shakier. Luke Weaver has turned into a stopper, throwing strikes, lighting up the radar gun with his fastball, and fooling hitters with his changeup (which is probably why the Yankees were interested in him in the first place). After Weaver, who do you trust right now? Ian Hamilton has not pitched the same this year; his strikeout percentage has dropped by more than 10 points and teams are raking off his sinker (.550 xSLG, .416 xBA). He needs to get his swing-and-miss stuff back. Victor González has gotten big outs, but he’s also, only had four strikeouts 12.2 innings with eight walks. That has to change. He has thrown better than his fellow former Dodger, Caleb Ferguson. His strikeout percentage is at least similar to his number last year, but he’s walking 12.1% of batters and getting barreled a lot - 15% of contact. The big problem is he can’t get hitters out with his fastball (.668 xSLG, .313 xBA). Otherwise, Dennis Santana has had his moments, he looks like a Major League pitcher, but he’s only struck out 18.9% of batters. Ferguson and Hamilton feel like the most important bounceback options from within, other than Tommy Kahnle’s return. Maybe Gil moving to the bullpen when Cole comes back could help, too. But Cashman may have to either look at the bullpen market or start calling up some top prospects.

  • Happy trails, John Sterling. He was one of the voices of my childhood summers, calling Yankees games with the passion of a fan and an appreciation for contemporary culture. I got a brief chance to meet him when he spoke at Syracuse during my freshman year, and I wish I had more of a chance to talk with him more. I hope he enjoys retirement and gets plenty of time to rest.


Alan B.
Alan B.
May 14

After Cashman was allowed to fire Girardi and, and change the pitching brain trust, I get less and less confident in the yearly bullpen creation. Way too many castoffs, talented but injured guys, a starter who's bombed thinking they can make him into a solid bullpen arm, no relieving prospect , except to use on the SWB Shuttle, and the big one: No longer teaching the starting pitchers the Art of Pitching. They are extremely happy if a Starter does a 5 and fly. They've gotten rid of the long man as well, again, to my thinking, that only hurts the pen, not help it. The SWB really doesn't have any potential long term (next 2-3 seasons) answers outside o…


May 14

on point about the hitting and starting pitching being quite good

even better point about the majority of the uninjured relievers appearing to be relatively mediocre.

Hamilton has been hittable

and Tonkin has looked to be pretty darn porous.

might be a good idea to rely a little more on Burdi, and perhaps Kahnle ...and perhaps one or two other guys


May 14

One of the main reasons the Yankees are better this year than the last 5 years or so, besides the addition of key players like Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo is that since the regular season began, they are staying healthy. Gerrit Cole, DJ LeMaheiu, and Tommy Kahnle developed their injuries during Spring Training, but during the regular season, the only injuries the Yankees have had so far are Jon Berti, Nick Burdi (both of who are already back with the ballclub), and Oswald Peraza, who is ALMOST back. With the exception of DJ, the Yankees are putting out the lineup they expected to put out when they were building this team, and have not had to bring "depth piec…

May 14
Replying to

Thanks. I will look into that.


Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
May 14

Thanks Patrick!!!

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