- James Vlietstra
The 2023 Yankees Season: The 1/5th Mark
By James Vlietstra
May 8, 2023
Through the first fifth of the season (32 games), the Yankees have definitely underperformed. They have gone 17-15 which puts them on pace for 85 total victories and on the outside of the 7 team American League playoffs. Although the optimist in me says just 2 of the recent losses should have been wins and that would put them on a 95 win trajectory.
Obviously a season is not defined by the first six weeks. They have managed to hover above .500, despite all the injuries they have suffered through. As frustrating as they have been at times, there’s still 130 games remaining. Their division is the toughest in all of baseball so they will benefit by the new schedule format which greatly reduces the amount of games played within the division.
What Went Right:
Gerrit Cole. He’s on pace for 25 wins and a WAR of 12. Unlikely to continue this pace, but finally pitching like the ace they signed. He’s adapting well to the pitch clock and is getting into a rhythm early and often.
Anthony Volpe. The Yankees top prospect has brought his talent and intangibles from a non roster spring training invitee, to the opening day shortstop, to the team’s lead off hitter. All before May. He’s a ROY candidate with a 0.8 WAR as he challenges Hunter Brown (0.8), Josh Jung (0.8), and Zach Neto (0.7).
What Has Gone Wrong:
Injuries. Harrison Bader has only played 2 games and then was injured again. Josh Donaldson has only played 5 games. Giancarlo Stanton managed only 13 games before being injured. Aaron Judge was once again leading the offense when he too was hurt. Ben Rortvedt has yet to play a Major League game since being traded for last spring. Jonathan Loasiga just underwent surgery that’ll keep him out until August.
GM Brian Cashman made the following major acquisitions in the past year. Traded Waldichuk, Sears, Medina, and Bowman for Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino. Last year they contributed minimally, this year neither has suited up. Traded Wesneski for Scott Effross. Effross managed 12 innings and is out with TJS. Traded Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader. Bader is talented but can’t stay on the field. Picked up the option on Luis Severino’s contract. Has yet to throw a pitch. Signed free agents Tommy Kahnle and Carlos Rodon. Both have had multiple setbacks and are yet to play.
Left Field. Aaron Hicks and company have combined to provide more than a negative WAR. They never addressed the need during the offseason. At this point they have to hope a prospect catches fire and forces his way up.
What To Expect:
Between trading away most of their Major League ready pitchers and the injuries, the pitching staff you see is what they have. Overuse is likely to cause burnout. The team needs to continue staying afloat while they wait for health to return.
I expect them to make the playoffs, so health is more important in October than it is today, but they have been making poor personnel decisions and with a payroll approaching $290M, the players that they have need to get back on the field and start contributing.