The New York Yankees currently host the top record in Major League Baseball. Sitting at 22–8, 1st in the AL East by four games and 1.5 games above the Los Angeles Dodgers, the squad has definitely found solutions to their problems.
Ranging from questionable starting pitching to an imbalanced hitting approach, the Yankees had plenty of issues heading into the 2022 season that were proposed as problems. However, they have exceeded all expectations up to this point, even focusing on the minor details.
One of the team’s major weaknesses from 2021 was opposing stolen bases. The Yankees have improved tremendously this season in that category, thanks to former Mets head coach Luis Rojas. Rojas joined the Yankees late last year as part of a major coaching overhaul.
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Skipper Aaron Boone saw just how important limiting opposing base runners was last year against the Boston Red Sox, who went 6-for-6 in stolen bases in September against the Yanks.
“It was one of those things where something bad happening turned out to be one of the best things that happened to us,” Boone said, via Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. “It was right before the playoffs. It wasn’t just us saying it. It was like, ‘I see it now.’ You had that instant buy-in from players, commitment to it.”
Rojas has completely turned around those metrics to open the year, holding runners at their individual bases and allocating more attention toward specific details.
“We’ve just been more situationally aware: ‘These are the guys that are running. Here’s how they’re running. Here are the things you need to do it when they’re on base.’’’ Pitching coach Matt Blake said. “It doesn’t have to be picking guys off. We have picked guys off. But you’re not trying to pick them off. You’re trying to control them. It’s more managing the attempts against us.”
The Yankees have executed a more instrumental strategy to contain runners and keep them still on the base paths. Rojas has played a huge role in that, which has been a quiet catalyst for the Bombers’ recent pitching dominance.
“I take it really seriously. I take it personal. I tell the catchers that. I tell the pitchers that,” Rojas said.
Luis Gil gets the start for the Yankees on Thursday:
On Thursday, the Yankees are preparing to face off against the Chicago White Sox with Luis Gil on the mound. Gil has struggled this season, hosting a 9.53 ERA with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Gil did look a bit better against Rochester and his most recent start, tossing 78 pitches over five innings, striking out nine batters, and giving up one homer and two earned runs. His outing would’ve been far more productive if not for one questionable pitch. Nonetheless, he features top-end velocity with his fastball, which the Yankees are extremely excited about.