When the New York Yankees and manager Aaron Boone decided to pinch it, Joey Gallo, with two men on in the top of the 8th inning, they were hoping for an offensive spark that would put the Bombers back in the game.
However, Gallo followed his usual streak of striking out and walking somberly back to the dugout. At 28 years old, Gallo’s career has fallen off a cliff wearing pinstripes, hitting a measly .161 the season with a 28.5% on base rate, the worst in his career. He’s hit 12 homers this season with 24 RBIs, well below expectations after being acquired at the deadline last year.
In fact, in the month of July, Gallo is hitting .143 with a 32% on-base rate, three homers, and six RBIs. His inability to make contact has become a glaring problem, which has forced veteran Matt Carpenter to play innings in the outfield just for his offensive capabilities.
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The Yankees can’t keep giving Gallo chances with the game on the line:
The decision to utilize Gallo instead of Isiah Kiner-Falefa is an interesting one, but given IKF’s ability to make contact, getting on base might’ve been a more beneficial arrangement.
“It’s not [just] about getting a hit in that situation,” Boone said of why he went with Gallo. “The other component is forcing their hand to at least get their closer in there for a four-out situation.”
Edwin Diaz, the Mets closer, completely dominated Gallo during the at-bat. Immediately, Joey fell to a two-strike count, taking two balls and swing aimlessly at a slider below the zone.
Kiner-Falefa backed Boone’s decision to give the slugger a chance to drive in runs, but there was never really hope he would even make contact.
“It’s a situation where you need two runs and Joey is one of the best power hitters the last couple years, and I got zero [home runs on the season],’’ Kiner-Falefa said. “There’s nothing I can say. You give him an opportunity right there. If I get a single, we’re still down two runs. I’m OK with it.”
Diaz primarily throws 4-seam fastballs and sliders. Gallo has a 36.3% WHIFF rate against 4-seam fastballs and a 50.5% WHIFF rate on sliders with a 49.1% strikeout rate. Striking out at 38.1% this season, the matchup between Diaz and Gallo was never going to be a winning one.
Hopefully, Boone learned an important lesson from this decision: you cannot trust Joey Gallo in high-leverage situations.