Yankees face serious infield problem after Game 1 loss against Houston

Alexander Wilson
josh donaldson, yankees
Jun 16, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) warms up before the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees fell to the Houston Astros in game 1 of the ALCS, a contest that manager Aaron Boone seemed to punt, given the usage of his pitchers. With Jameson Taillon putting together a decent performance, lasting 4.1 innings and giving up just one earned run, the bullpen immediately threw him under the bus with awful efficiency.

However, the Yankees’ pitching wasn’t the only thing that faltered on Wednesday night, as the infield also struggle to help offensively, aside from a solo blast courtesy of Anthony Rizzo. The team hasn’t gotten much production from third base, as Josh Donaldson struggled against Cleveland to finish the ALDS and has opened up the ALCS on a bad note.

The Yankees can’t rely on Josh Donaldson:

Donaldson is hitting .211 with a 37.5% on-base rate across six playoff games, but after walking four times in the first two games of the ALDS, he’s only walked once in the last four contests, striking out a combined nine times with just two hits to offer his team.

Against Houston, he walked once and struck out three times, essentially making him an automatic out, specifically in high-leverage situations. Donaldson had one good at-bat in the eighth inning to help get on base with Matt Carpenter in a position to drive in a few runs, but the Yankees lefty slugger failed to get anything going, striking out four times in the loss.

Considering Houston only scored four runs, the Yankees are more than capable of overcoming that number, but with Justin Verlander showcasing dominant stuff, striking out 11 batters, and giving up three hits over six innings, the Bombers didn’t stand a chance.

Nonetheless, there’s a strong argument to make a Donaldson should be benched in favor of Isiah Kiner-Falefa shifting to the hot corner and Oswald Peraza playing shortstop. The Yankees didn’t like the match-up between Oswaldo Cabrera and Verlander, sitting the rookie for Wednesday’s game. However, he’s expected to feature on Thursday in left field, which could shake things up once again after Giancarlo Stanton played the outfield in the loss.

Considering IKF won a Gold Glove at third base and possesses decent contact hidden capabilities, he might be a bit more valuable than Donaldson. It’s not as if Josh is smacking home runs left and right, so a player who can get on base in other ways might be more beneficial.