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Yankees Thoughts

By Sal Maiorana

May 24, 2024

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Sal Maiorana, a friend of the site, shares some of his thoughts on the Yankees.


For Sal's analysis on the New York Yankees, you can subscribe to Sal Maiorana's free Pinstripe People Newsletter at https://salmaiorana.beehiiv.com/subscribe.

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What we are seeing right now from Anthony Volpe is exactly what the Yankees need him to be as a leadoff hitter.


In the victory Wednesday night against the pesky Mariners which stopped a two-game slide, Volpe reached base in three of his four plate appearances - two singles and a walk - and he scored two runs. In other words, he did exactly what a leadoff hitter needs to do, start rallies for the big boys behind him.


Lo and behold, after he singled in the first inning he jogged home on Aaron Judge’s home run, and after his single in the third he jogged home on the first of Juan Soto’s two home runs and just like that, with Volpe as their catalyst, the Yankees had a 4-0 lead.


Remember last season when it seemed like every time the Yankees hit a home run it came with no one on base? Well, it wasn’t every time, but of their 219 long balls in 2023, 130 were solo shots, an incredibly bad 59.3% of the time. That’s what happens when you have a team on-base percentage of .304 which ranked 27th in MLB.


This season, the Yankees’ .336 on-base is third-best, Volpe’s is .348, and of their 73 home runs, 37 have come with the bases empty, just 50.6% which is obviously much better and Volpe has had a key role in that.


“Volpe’s been doing a great job to get on base for us,” Soto said.


Volpe has certainly gone through a bit of a rollercoaster ride this season. He had the great start when he hit .373 through the first 16 games and Aaron Boone moved him into the leadoff spot in the middle of that run. Then he wiped out and hit just .158 with a sickly .247 on-base percentage over his next 19 games.


And now he’s broken out of that rut and is on a career-best 15-game hitting streak and 19-game on-base streak, during which he’s slashing .323/.357/.538 with an OPS of .896. (Editor's note - these stats are from the other day - there is an update below.)


“I think he’s doing a really good job, and I thought tonight was really good,” Boone said. “I thought he had some really good at bats. He gets a little fortunate with the infield single to start in front of Judge’s homer in the first. Then he smokes a ball up the middle ahead of Soto’s homer. Then he works a really good walk to kind of set the table at the end. Love how he’s playing, obviously he’s playing a big part for us and the defense always seems to show up all the time.”

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We are witnessing some pretty remarkable things from the Yankees starting rotation through what is almost the first one-third of the 2024 season.


Gerrit Cole, the reigning AL Cy Young award winner, has not thrown a pitch this year yet somehow, the Yankees have the lowest team ERA in MLB at 2.86, and their starters-only ERA is actually a touch better at 2.85, but that’s third-best behind the Phillies and Red Sox.


Thursday afternoon, Luis Gil was once again nearly unhittable as he pitched 6.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing just an infield single and two walks with eight strikeouts as the Yankees earned a split of their four-game series with the Mariners.


This was the 11th straight Yankees start of at least five innings and two runs or fewer allowed which is a new team record. And for Gil, it was his fifth straight start of at least six innings and one or fewer runs, tying him with CC Sabathia (2011) for the second-longest such stretch by a Yankee.


In his next start which will come in Anaheim early next week in the middle of the Yankees’ upcoming nine-game West Coast trip, Gil will try to tie Steve Kline who had six in a row in 1972. Think of all the great Yankees pitchers who never did something like this. Pretty amazing.


“Credit to their starter,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s been really good, and we knew coming into the game it was gonna be a tough battle, hoping to get more pitches on him. But he was efficient early in the game and that was kind of the story. There’s a reason he’s on a good run right now. That’s pretty electric stuff and we didn’t get anything going offensively against him.”


Gil has made 10 starts this year. He’s 6-1, with a 2.11 ERA in 55.1 innings, 70 strikeouts, 29 walks, an opponent batting average against of .143 and an OPS against of .492. Last year, here’s what Cole’s first 10 starts looked like on his way to the Cy Young: 5-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 62.2 innings, strikeouts, 20 walks, a .209 average against and a .585 OPS against. The Yankees were 8-2 for both Gil and Cole. Yes, essentially, Gil has been Cole.


“He’s got amazing talent, great ceiling, and he’s delivering,” said Aaron Boone of the pitcher who now has the lowest hits per nine innings average in MLB at 4.39. “He’s been one of the best pitchers in the league, and just continues to get better and better.”

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➤ The Yankees are now 11-1 when Giancarlo Stanton homers in a game this season. And this was the 40th time since 2018 that Stanton and Aaron Judge have homered in the same game, and the Yankees are now 36-4 all-time when that happens. The Judge-Stanton duo stands fifth on the all-time list for the Yankees, breaking a tie with Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth homered in the same game an incredible 75 times, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle did it 56 times, Ruth and Bob Meusel 45 times, and Mantle and Maris 43 times.


➤ Volpe extended his hitting streak to 16 games, meaning he only has 40 more to go before he ties Joe DiMaggio. Hey, you never know. Ah, on second thought, as Ted Williams once said, “Joe put a line in the record book that will never be erased.” That has held true for 82 years and counting.

8 Comments


jeff
May 24

If Luis Gil continues pitching the way that he has. I predict that he will win the AL Rookie Of The Year award....AND.....the AL Cy Young Award. Deservedly so.


This is not a surprise. 2-1/2 years ago. When Luis Gil made his major league debut on August 3, 2021, and for the rest of the 2021 season, Gil was unhittable even then. The next year, Gil was mostly at AAA, but he did make more appearances in the majors for the Yankees in 2022 before he got hurt and ended up having to undergo Tommy John Surgery. He was unhittable then, so I expected him to be super good now, and he has been just that, and more.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
May 25
Replying to

I'm not prepared to go that far on May 25. Gil is at 2.0 WAR and Cowser is at 1.0. If the League catches up to Gil and Cowser goes on a tear, the latter could catch up to and surpass the former. But yes, right now if the vote were held today, it would have to be Gil in a cakewalk.

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Alan B.
Alan B.
May 24

Gil, still is not getting national love. He should have 1 more May start left. Has a start that gets him another W, even if it's 5IP, 3ER, he should be a shoo in for A.L. Rookie of the month, or even A.L. Pitcher of the Month. Will he get some love then?


Volpe can be a leadoff hitter, but I think he's better off lower down in the order.


Then my own question: When does Cashman put together a real bullpen?

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