Up against the lowly Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees have struggled to find their groove so far in the series. In the first game, they barely scratched out a win, losing the lead four times and eventually securing the victory in the 11th inning. In game two of the series, the Royals posted eight runs compared to the Yankees’ four, as starting pitcher Nester Cortes allowed five runs over 5.2 innings.
However, the Yankees’ offense has struggled to get going ever since starting first baseman Anthony Rizzo contracted COVID-19. Rizzo has missed the last three games but is fighting his way back after making the decision to pass on the vaccine.
Before general manager Brian Cashman acquired Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs, he was hitting .248 with 14 homers and 40 RBIs. Ever since making the transition to New York, the 31-year-old is hitting .281 with three homers and six RBIs, helping the offense tremendously in their quest to achieve adequacy.
The Bombers have scored 12 runs in the last three games, compared to a stretch last week where they scored 23 runs in two games against the Baltimore Orioles. Rizzo played a significant part in the success of the offense, providing consistent hits and a clutch factor.
In his place, Luke Voit has made a return, failing to collect a hit against Kansas City in the loss on Tuesday. Rizzo has been one of the more effective offensive weapons for the Yankees, reinvigorating a team that spent the first half of the season looking for answers.
However, the offense can’t be blamed for everything, as the starting pitchers have been lackluster due to reserves being put in a place of importance. The team is expecting both Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery to make a return this week, with Luis Severino and Corey Kluber eyeing a late August or September return.
The Yankees can only wait so long before the team is looking through a tight window at a playoff spot. Currently, they are seven games back in the AL East and two games in the Wild Card. Their best bet is taking over Boston in the WC, but beating poor teams like Kansas City is essential.
Hopefully, the return of Rizzo, who has a .563 slugging percentage and .963 OPS, can spark more some run-production. You’d think the star-studded lineup consisting of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton would be a bit more effective — especially Giancarlo who failed to collect a hit over five at-bats in the loss to the Royals.