The New York Yankees are coming off a devastating ALCS against the Houston Astros in 2022. They lost four consecutive games, failing yet again to make it to the World Series. The Astros simply have their number thanks to elite starting pitching and good enough offense to push them over the hump.
In Game 1 of the ALCS, the Yankees only managed to score two runs, leveraging that dismal performance into another two runs in Game 2. They failed to score in Game 3 and put up five in the finale before the Astros came storming back and took the lead.
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The Yankees can make excuses but their best players simply didn’t show up:
Of course, it is easy to make excuses and point to the injured players the Yankees lost just before the playoffs, but the reality is simple, they don’t match up favorably against Houston. Even starting pitcher Gerrit Cole knows just how demoralizing the defeat was and the emotions that come with yet another early playoff exit.
“We got waxed,” Cole said. “So anytime you get waxed, it doesn’t feel good, whether you’re going to the salon or you’re on the baseball field.”
Despite Cole having an iffy 2022 season, posting his highest ERA since 2017 at 3.50, he still provided plenty of support during the playoffs. Over 18.1 innings, he enjoyed a 2.95 ERA and 11.30 strikeouts per nine with a 77.4% left-on-base rate. He carried his weight, but the offense failed to produce, which was a familiar storyline during the second half of the season.
Cole stated that he watched the series over and couldn’t find a single Yankee advantage, even when they started off strong in Game 4 but ultimately blew the lead.
“I watched the series, and I didn’t really see an area where we played better than them,” Cole said.
Unfortunately, Brian Cashman didn’t do much to bolster the team this off-season, retaining Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Judge and adding Carlos Rodon to help the starting rotation. Nonetheless, the team has already lost Frankie Montas and has a major vacancy in left field, with Andrew Benintendi heading to the Chicago White Sox on a long-term contract.
The team will have a full season of Harrison Bader, but he is coming off an injury-riddled season due to plantar fasciitis. Third base is still manned by Josh Donaldson, and they have a position battle ready to unfold at shortstop. Plenty of questions need to be answered, and the Yankees don’t necessarily have an imposing roster, despite having the reigning MVP in right field.
The question to ask a simple, did the Yankees make enough improvements this off-season to compete for a World Series title? At first glance, that answer would have to be no, especially when factoring in the injury concerns.