The New York Yankees are preparing to battle the Atlanta Braves in an intense three-game series commencing on Monday night.
The Yankees’ Disappointing 2023 Season: A Snapshot
The Bombers are fresh off a series defeat to the Miami Marlins, a loss that culminated in squandering a 9th-inning lead on Sunday night, encapsulating the Yankees’ disappointing 2023 season. A particular low point was Sunday’s performance by depth piece Jake Bauers.
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Jake Bauers’ Struggles: A Seasonal Analysis
Bauers, who struck out five times across five at-bats on Sunday, now has season averages of .217 with a .295 OBP and .749 OPS. After an impressive July, where he batted .258 with a .324 OBP, his August began poorly. Over 47 at-bats, Bauers’ record stands at .170 with a .231 OBP and .550 OPS.
The Impact of Anthony Rizzo’s Absence
With starting first baseman Anthony Rizzo sidelined due to concussion symptoms, the Yankees have turned to Bauers to help fill the void. The 27-year-old has logged over 1,300 innings at first base in his career, including 120.1 this season, maintaining a perfect fielding percentage.
DJ LeMahieu’s Return: A Timely Boost
However, after one of Bauers’ worst offensive showings of the season, the Yankees reinstated DJ LeMahieu and positioned him at first for Monday night’s game.
The 35-year-old, who has been nursing a calf injury and missed the entire Marlins series, is hitting .240 with a .315 OBP this season. His performance includes eight homers and 29 RBIs with a 91 wRC+. Though considered a below-average offensive player for the first time since 2018, LeMahieu has shown improvement over the past few weeks.
During July, DJ achieved a .247 hit rate with a .359 OBP but commenced August, prior to the injury, with a .364 average and .440 OBP. Since the All-Star break and with the addition of new hitting coach Sean Casey, this seasoned utilityman has started to accelerate, demonstrating why the Yankees extended his contract for six years at $90 million during the 2021 offseason.
LeMahieu’s Defensive Consistency
Apart from DJ’s fluctuating offense this season, his defensive contribution remains consistent with his career pattern. He’s played 578.2 innings at third base this year, boasting a .994 fielding percentage with two defensive runs saved and three outs above average. At first base, his 117 innings have yielded a perfect fielding percentage.
The Return of LeMahieu: A Major Boost for the Yankees
LeMahieu’s return to the lineup is a significant asset for the Yankees, especially considering his proven defensive prowess. His presence can be the key factor in holding the line against a red-hot Braves team, thereby offering hope and excitement for fans and teammates alike as the Yankees push forward in this pivotal series.