The New York Yankees are coming off a series split against the Oakland Athletics, showcasing two dismal performances over the weekend. They scored a measly one run against starting pitcher Adrian Martinez, who entered the game with a 6.08 ERA.
After the All-Star break, the Bombers have faced their fair share of adversity, ranging from injury to polarizing offensive play. One day the Yankees will smash double-digit runs and the next, they simply can’t even touch the baseball.
The team needs to find their groove before the playoffs commence, but here are the three primary issues plaguing them at the present moment.
Three big problems the Yankees face ahead of the playoffs:
1.) Polarizing offensive play
The Yankees’ offense has been their bread-and-butter this season, showcasing elite production during the first half of the campaign before the All-Star break. However, they’ve hit a serious wall over the past few weeks, watching their lead in the AL East deteriorate at an astronomical pace.
They currently sit 7.5 games above the Tampa Bay Rays but still host a +194 run differential. They are all but locked into a playoff spot but need to maintain the No. 1 seed in the division.
The Yankees’ offense runs through star slugger Aaron Judge, who is hitting .272 with a 44% on base rate in the month of August. However, prior to the team’s series against the Mets last week, he went nine consecutive games without hitting a home run, which undoubtedly hurt their efficiency.
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The Bombers recently got Giancarlo Stanton back from Achilles tendinitis, which should help significantly down the stretch. However, they are still waiting on Matt Carpenter and Harrison Bader to return from injury, targeting a mid-September return.
2.) No slugging from shortstop
The New York Yankees need more slugging efficiency from the shortstop position, considering Isiah Kiner-Falefa has contributed just one homer this season and a .314 slugging percentage. He features a 28.3% hard-hit rate and just three barrels on the season, featuring a 0.9% barrel rate. There is a call for the Yankees to transition Oswaldo Cabrera to shortstop on a more permanent basis, especially given his great defensive qualities the past few weeks.
IKF hasn’t looked great in August, hitting .232 with a sub-30% on base rate. He was much better in July, hitting .294 with a 31.5% on base rate.
Considering he has two hits in his last four games, Boone may be looking to make a change in the coming days.
3.) Injuries galore
Injuries have been the team’s biggest challenge since the All-Star break. The bullpen has been slaughtered, with Miguel Castro, Albert Abreu, Clay Holmes, and Zach Britton all working their way back from injuries.
The starting rotation lost Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes, but luckily they are all expected to make a return in September before the playoffs. That will give them a week or two to ramp up before elimination rounds, with the Yankees needing to be at full strength.
The return of Carpenter and Bader will also be beneficial. Before fracturing his foot, Carpenter was hitting an impressive .305 with a 41.2% on-base rate and a .727 slugging percentage. He hit 15 homers over 47 games with 37 RBIs. His offensive contributions were essential to the Yankees’ strategy and losing him significantly weakened their lineup.
Bader, on the other hand, hosts a .256 average with a 30% on base rate this season, stealing 15 bases. Having hit 16 homers last year, Bader has a bit of underrated power he can utilize moving forward, but he’s still working his way back from plantar fasciitis. However, he was running at about 85% last week, nearing a return over the next few weeks or so.
While injuries continue to plague the Yankees, especially after Aroldis Chapman was placed on the 15-day injured list, they are seemingly getting healthier simultaneously, expecting reinforcements sooner rather than later.