The Tuesday Discussion: Are the Yankees In Trouble?
This week we asked our writers:
Are the Yankees in trouble? Is their recent poor play an indication of a flawed team or will they rebound and play as all hoped they would?
Here are the responses:
Matthew Cohen – A lot of good players are out. The Yankees should be able to make the playoffs with this squad but they won’t get far if they are without most of them for the playoffs.
I’m most concerned with Gerrit Cole’s performance. He is not even close to being the best pitcher in the league so far.
Lincoln Mitchell – My answer: yes, the Yankees are in trouble. They are an injury prone team that is suffering injuries. They have no real plan B once the big sluggers stop hitting home runs. And they’re not going to catch lightning in a bottle with replacement level players playing above their head for another season.
Patrick Gunn – The Yankees have altered the trajectory of their season with this stretch. I still think they have the potential to win the World Series, but they need to change course fast. Their rotation has been mostly serviceable, with Gerrit Cole not pitching like an ace but keeping his team in every game, while Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery, and even J.A. Happ having solid turns. The Yankees’ biggest concern is, once again, player health. Their lineup has lost DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres for a decent stretch of time. LeMahieu is back, but now Urshela has a bone spur in his right elbow and could miss some time. These injuries have tested their lineup depth, and that, coupled with inconsistent play from Gary Sanchez and Brett Gardner, have bred a mixed bag of a lineup.
What’s worse is that the Yankees’ bullpen is battered. Unlike last year, the Yankees have taken massive hits in their bullpen, with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, and Tommy Kahnle have missed significant time (with Kahnle out for the year). This has put significant strain on Chad Green and Adam Ottavino, which may have led to their struggles this week.
Overall, I think that the Yankees can turn this around, especially because of the Rays’ growing list of injuries. With that said, the Bombers’ high expectations have lowered because of this poor stretch.
James Vlietstra – Teams are never as good as they look when they are winning nor as bad as they look when they are losing “
Let’s hope not. During their 7 game losing streak they looked terrible and found a new way to lose every day.
With so many of their stars on the IL, it was inevitable. Assuming they return from the MASH unit, they are a top 5-6 team.
I still believe that promoting Clarke Schmidt is the shot in the arm necessary for a strong late season push.
Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks need to start producing at a better rate.
The playoffs are really going to be a crap shoot, especially if they play in the bubble as discussed. With 16 teams making the postseason, they are going to need to get hot and stay hot to make it through 4 rounds.
Paul Semendinger – I have not had a lot of time to watch baseball the last few weeks. I just follow the games through the blog, discussions with other fans, updates from Ethan, and such. But, what I keep seeing are the end results. Lots of losses. Lots of injuries. Last week I argued that the core of this Yankees team is too fragile to sustain any long run. a Team cannot continue to rely on back-ups, long-shots, and replacement players and expect to compete. Unfortunately that is exactly what this team needs to happen to stay in the race or at least be competitive in the playoffs.
One aspect of the injuries that has not been discussed much has been the fact that players are not robots. When a player misses time, he also loses his rhythm and timing. There’s usually a transition period for the player to go through until he again reaches full strength and performance. A player just can’t sustain high levels of production if he is in and out of the lineup.
Yes, I think these Yankees are in trouble. I think the core is too fragile. They will probably make the playoffs this year with the expanded formula, but will they play deep into the playoffs? I doubt it.
I’m actually pondering a future Tuesday Discussion question…is it time to start to think about trying to develop a new core to build around. It might be a little too soon to think that, but if we see this again next year, all the injuries to the core players, then it might be beginning to be too late.
Ed Botti – Being 17 – 13 at the midway point of a 60 game season isn’t necessarily the record of a team in trouble. Having said that, they are a team that has under performed over the last 10 games, and continues to fail to hit with RISP, which is troublesome and is certainly a flaw.
Key injuries are a contributing factor for the poor showing over the 10 game stretch. Therefore getting healthy returns from key players can spur the rebound needed. With 30 games remaining and new injuries to Judge and Torres, along with recent bullpen breakdowns means there is a lot to overcome in a short period of time. With a very favorable 2nd half schedule, I am optimistic for 20-10 final 30 games; finishing lower than the anticipated 42-18 record predicted by myself and others.
But yes, they are flawed (like every other team), but won’t be in trouble until they square off against a good pitching staff in a short series, unless they can overcome the lousy hitting with RISP. To do so they will need to start using the whole field and execute in situational hitting circumstances.
The upcoming Tampa Bay series will answer a lot of open questions.
Ethan Semendinger – I was planning to have a great morale-boosting addition to the Tuesday Discussion after the Yankees made some trade deadline moves to shell up some holes and everything. At this point we all know that’s not this reality and it’s time to acknowledge what the 2020 Yankees are: extremely flawed. We’ll (quickly) go facet by facet to show this:
Starting Pitching: The Yankees have maybe 2 reliable starting pitchers in Cole and Tanaka. Of the true MLB guys they can’t reasonably hope on Paxton returning and getting back to form, Montgomery is a wild card, and Happ has produced a 4.81 ERA in his last two years (his comments the other day were ridiculous, regardless of his performance against the Mets). No serious playoff team can go into the final stretch with starting King or Loaisiga. It’s time to run the Deivi and Schmidt experiments and see what they can do. At the very least they (and Johnny Lasagna) should be good bullpen options because…
Relief Pitching: With the many relievers traded at the deadline (and a lot for not much in terms of players) this seems like the place the Yankees truly whiffed on. The Top-4 isn’t there with Chapman having his yearly issues, Britton on the IL, Kahnle is done, and Chad Green has been good. Holder and Cessa have been decent/good too, but Nelson/Avilan/Kriske are not playoff bullpen arms. Ottavino has been on-and-off this year too. Archie Bradley, Mychal Givens, and/or Trevor Rosenthal wouldn’t have fixed the issue, but they could’ve helped legitimate as even in a perfect world Chapman, Green, Britton, and Ottavino can’t cover when the starting arms don’t go longer than 6 innings every game.
Hitting: Instead of giving an in-depth reaction about each hitter I’m going to offer up each with a simple stat (before last night’s game) to show how this season has been. We’ll start with some good: DJ LeMahieu (.398 BA), Luke Voit (1.064 OPS), Clint Frazier (12 hits in 13 games), and Gio Urshela (0.8 bWAR). That’s just about it. Now (some of) the bad: Aaron Judge (2 IL stints), Giancarlo Stanton (14 GP of 32), Gleyber Torres (.295 SLG), Gary Sanchez (68 OPS+), Brett Gardner (.176 BA), Mike Ford (.259 OBP), Tyler Wade (62 OPS+), and Miguel Andujar (.159 OBP).
This isn’t a World Series contending team. At this point, this isn’t even serious playoff contending team. They’ll need Judge and Stanton to return with MVP-like numbers, Torres to return and figure out what hitting the ball is, and Sanchez to get over the Mendoza line (which is going to be a task with his current .134 BA) because a line-up with only 4 good hitters isn’t a line-up at all.