The Tuesday Discussion: What Went Wrong?
September 21, 2021
This week we asked our writers:
Following the 13-game winning streak, the Yankees have gone 7-15. What was the single biggest factor that caused the bottom to fall out so dramatically?
Here are their responses…
Lincoln Mitchell – The Yankees are not a very good team. They are a slightly above average team that got hot for a while.
Chris O’Connor – I think the biggest thing has been the faltering of the pitching staff. During the 13-game win streak, the Yankees scored 75 runs (5.77 runs/game) and gave up 35 (2.69 runs/game). In the 21 games since, they have scored 88 runs (4.19 runs/game) and given up 120 (5.71 runs/game). Everyone knows at this point the Yankees offense is just not good. Even during the win streak, the 5.76 runs per game is very good, but not earth shattering. The Yankees offense also did not consistently break games open: during the streak, 8 of the 13 games were won by one or two runs. It was the pitching that carried them, and it appears that the bullpen is simply gassed. Yankees starters have not been that bad since the streak ended, ranking 10th in fWAR. The bullpen, however, has a 5.06 ERA in that span and ranks just 23rd in fWAR. Injuries to key guys has not helped, but playing so much high-pressure baseball has seemingly taken a toll on the pen. The pitching has carried the anemic offense all year, but it looks like the load that the bullpen has taken has caught up to them.
Tim Kabel – I believe the single biggest factor that caused the collapse of the Yankees after their 13 game winning streak is the inadequate managing of Aaron Boone. When everyone was hot and the breaks were going their way, they won in spite of him. However, his continued mismanagement, particularly of the bullpen, finally got the better of the team.
Boone has proven time and again that he is not adept at thinking on his feet or making adjustments. When things took a turn for the worse, he had no ability to get the team out of it. He is not capable of making course corrections in the heat of the moment.
Even now, there is no way to predict what will happen with this team. They beat the Indians 8-0 on Friday night but were then destroyed two days in a row. Even Gerrit Cole was knocked around. Boone’s ability to react is abysmal and I think it will cause them to miss the playoffs this season.
Derek McAdam – The single biggest factor has been that the Yankees had a 13-game winning streak. Once a streak ends, it seems that most teams tend to go into a slump. The Yankees have just hit an even bigger slide and are at risk of completely missing the postseason. There are definitely other factors, but the long winning streak seems to have damaged the club.
Ed Botti – There is no one reason. The pitching has broken down, and the hitting has cooled off at the same time.
Since the 13 game streak ended on August 27, they have played 22 games. So, let’s back up and compare the 22 games that included the 13 game win streak to the 22 games since the win streak ended.
In the 22 games from August 4 to August 27 they went 19-3. They scored 123 runs and allowed 74 runs. A run differential of +49.
In the 22 games beginning on August 28 through September 19 they went 7-15 scoring 88 runs and allowing 120. A run differential of -32.
Pitching injuries have something to do with it, but the hitting is inexplicable, especially since they got 3 of their starting position players back from injuries and Covid protocol since the streak ended.
They went a 22 game stretch scoring 5.6 runs a game and allowing 3.36 runs a game to a 22 game stretch of scoring 4 runs a game and allowing 5.45 runs a game.
They are just a very inconsistent team. As all of you know that read my pieces, I hate their offensive approach. Too many strike outs, too few situational hitting approaches. It seems that when the streak was going, they used some replacement players, and were forced to play baseball, not home run derby. That has gone by the wayside, and the record speaks for its self. They hit 5 home runs Friday, and then were outscored 22-4 over the next 18 innings. Not much more to say.
Mike Whiteman – Of the fifteen losses, eight were attributed to relief pitchers. I’ll guess a shutdown bullpen wins six of them and an average pen wins four. In either case, the Yanks are in a much more advantageous position than they are today.
Paul Semendinger – For the only time this season, during the 13 game streak (and for a bit just before), the Yankees utilized speed, good defense, situational hitting, and the like. They played all aspects of good baseball. The good defense made their pitching better. Then they went back to the ways they’ve tried unsuccessfully for years. Big swings. Big misses. Station-to-station. Along with mediocre to poor defense.
We’ve seen this for years. These are the Aaron Boone Yankees.
Last year’s team was an 89-win team. This team is as well.
The 13-game streak was a mirage. Bad teams have good periods. The Yankees aren’t bad, but they’re also not very good.
The Yankees finally found something that worked and then they went away from it. Then, in the season’s biggest moments, they crumbled. That has to be a reflection of the manager. If it isn’t, I don’t know what is.
Patrick Gunn – The main reason the Yankees have bottomed out is that the lineup has gone flat again. And not just because they keep hitting into double plays, the poorly named Bombers have had multiple games and series in which their offense has failed to muster any sort of rallies. Just take a look at their series against Toronto, Cleveland, and their final game against Baltimore. They have had some individual success (Joey Gallo’s recent surge to name one, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton at points), but they have not gelled all-together. Also, Aaron Boone benched Luke Voit right as he was getting hot in favor of Anthony Rizzo, who has just a .383 slugging percentage in September. Meanwhile, integrating Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres back into the lineup took some time, which lead to some big blunders. Yes, the pitching staff has regressed and dealt with major injuries, but the Bombers scoring runs would help alleviate some of those issues. They have not stepped up and it may cost this team a chance at making the playoffs.
Andy Singer – When a collection of talent, no matter what disagreements we may have about the composition of said talent, consistently falls short of producing results commensurate with the aggregate talent level of the team, there’s really only one culprit (minus any glaring issues with clubhouse chemistry): coaching. I wasn’t a fan of Aaron Boone’s hiring from day 1, but I have been willing to give him a chance. It has become blatantly clear that he is not the right Manager to steer this ship. I think Boone’s personality works when the team is playing well. I think it’s become clear that his style of managing does not work when the team is struggling. That combined with his inability to grow as a game manager makes it clear that the Yankees need a different voice in the dugout. On the opposite coast, the Padres are discovering the same fact with Jayce Tingler…I guess the Yankees should at least be happy that Aaron Judge isn’t publicly shouting down other guys in the dugout, although it would at least make for an interesting story.
Regardless, I think a quote purportedly given by the late 1980 USA Olympic Men’s Hockey Head Coach, Herb Brooks, illustrates a key point: “All-star teams fail because they rely solely on the individual’s talent. The Soviets win because they take that talent and use it inside a system that’s designed for the betterment of the team. My goal is to beat ’em at their own game.” We’ve seen definitive evidence that Aaron Boone is not capable of managing this way with his own group of all-stars, but there’s another point at play here. While an all-star team may not ultimately win a championship, it should at least skate into the playoffs on talent alone. It will be a truly stunning fall if this Yankees team doesn’t even make the playoffs, and Boone and crew deserve a huge chunk of the blame.