New York Yankees: A Decade Without A Ring

New York Yankees

For just the second time since the 1910’s, the New York Yankees failed to win a World Series during a decade. The team won their first World Series in 1923, and the only other decade where they didn’t win one was the 1980’s.

In 2009, the team won their 27th ring, also in the inaugural season of the new Yankee Stadium. The 10 years following resulted in some success, just no World Series.

In 2010, the team swept the Minnesota Twins for the second consecutive year in the ALDS before falling to the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. A year later, the team lost their ALDS series to the Detroit Tigers in five games.

Come 2012, the Yankees beat the Orioles in five games in the ALDS before being manhandled by the Tigers in a four game sweep. That was when Derek Jeter broke his ankle in game one, the series spiraling downhill from there.

Mid Decade Struggles

The next two years were rough for the Yankees. Guys were getting older and battling injuries. Mariano Rivera retired in 2013 and Jeter retired in 2014.

With a bit of a younger team in 2015, the team qualified for the AL Wild Card game but lost to the Houston Astros 3-0.

The Yankees seemed to get a bit older again in 2016, and ended up going into a mini-rebuild and selling at the trade deadline. They shipped off guys like Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller for prospects.

A Fresh Identity

In 2017, the Yankees shocked all of baseball and qualified for the Wild Card game in a year where they were expected to go about .500. The team was young and very inexperienced, but that didn’t seem to matter.

They won the Wild Card game, and had an incredible comeback against the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. They were down 2-0, but proceeded to win the next three games to advance to the ALCS against the Astros.

Against the Astros, the team went down 2-0 but won all three games in New York to take a 3-2 series lead. However, the Astros won games six and seven to eliminate the Yankees.

In 2018, the team got back to 100 wins but got eliminated by the Red Sox in the ALDS.

Now enter 2019, the last chance to win a World Series this decade. Despite their best record in 10 years, they failed again to get past the Astros in the ALCS following an ALDS sweep of the Twins.

Turning the page to 2020 and a new decade, the Yankees are hoping to win a few rings to make up for lost time.

A Successful 2020 Yankees Lineup Must Include Urshela and Andujar

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

Much is being made of the New York Yankees needing help to bolster their starting rotation. And it’s all merited. Our starting rotation, as it stands, going into 2020 is Masahiro Tanka (coming off of one of his worst regular seasons in professional American baseball), James Paxton, Luis Severino (after missing all but a handful of starts in September and a few playoff starts), JA Happ (after an absolutely dreadful season), and Jordan Montgomery (who has pitched a combined 31.1 innings since 2018). This is a rotation that needs help. We can’t ride our bullpen like we’ve been doing the last few years, because they’ll get exhausted by October, and we’ll have another year of missing the World Series. To put it in perspective, Chapman, Green, Ottavino, Britton, and Kahnle threw for 312 innings combined in 2019. Tanaka and Paxton threw for 332.2 innings combined.

Our offense needs to improve as well. We were one of the most feared lineups in baseball in 2019. But we struck out over 1,400 times in the regular season and striking out over 90 times throughout the postseason. Strikeouts are a liability that plague every team, and if we didn’t strike out as much as we did against Houston, it would have been us playing Washington in the World Series.

Our Murderers Row is Our Greatest Strength AND Weakness

Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, these are guys with power that can take you deep in an instant. But good lord are they strikeout prone. Using Stanton’s strikeout totals from 2018 (the dude did miss practically all of 2019 after all) and add it up to the other 4’s strikeout totals from this year, you have 748 strikeouts throughout a given season. Edwin Encarnacion, who struck out 103 times during the regular season, struck out an appalling 13 times in October. The strikeouts have to come down, across the board if we want meaningful games played deep into October.

Why You Have to Include Andujar and Urshela in the 2020 Lineup

Gio Urshela has a lot to prove in 2020, namely that 2019 wasn’t a fluke year offensively. He also needs to show he can bounce back from playing a full season as, up till last year, he was a career backup third baseman/bench player. But he struck out 87 times last year, which was 3 fewer times than our offensive stalwart DJ LeMahieu.

Miguel Andujar has quite a bit riding on him too. It’s not easy coming back from surgically repairing a torn labrum after having a breakout first season performance as he did. The last Yankee in recent memory who did this was Greg Bird (remember his 2015 and how he never was the same again?). But there is far less riding on his shoulders as the main two things he has to prove are 1) That he’s healthy, and 2) That his defense improved since 2018.

I’ve used the comparison metric for these two men of “the first full season they played”, but I’ll expand to their full careers. Andujar has struck out 108 times in his career (97 times in 2018), with a career .318 OBP and a .819 OPS.  Gio Urshela has struck out 177 times in his career, with a career .313 OBP and a .735 (.889 in 2019) OPS. Gleyber Torres has a .338/.849 OBP/OPS, but has struck out over 200 times in his career. Aaron Judge is .394/.952 but has struck out over 500 times in his 4-year career.

This shows that Urshela and Andujar are capable of getting on base, SLUGGING their ways on base (on par with what Gleyber Torres can do) but are far less likely to strikeout in the key at-bat of the game. Torres and Judge are more adept at getting on base and slugging their ways on, but we’ve seen how strikeout happy they are.

The answer is clear. Both guys have to be in the lineup if you want to offset the K machine that is the New York Yankees Murderer’s Row. Otherwise, you’re in for another disappointing finish to a great season.

If Mike Fires is Telling The Truth, How Does This Solve The Yankees Postseason Problem?

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

If you were to poll all members of the New York Yankees fan universe, you’d think that there was some kind of nonfree agent signing holiday. According to a report from Ken Rosenthal in The Atlantic, former Houston Astro pitcher, Mike Fires claimed his former team stole signs electronically, and the bullpen tipped off their batters. There’s a number of things involved in this story that should give all Yankees fans pause. 

First: Mike Fires can be lying.

Mike Fires alleges that a camera was placed in center field. From that camera, a feed would be sent to the Astros dugout. The feed was focused on the away teams catcher, and what signs he was calling. From the dugout, members of the Astros would bang on a trashcan to signal what was being thrown once the signs were deciphered. 

This is what Mike Fires claimed. But according to Carlos Beltran, his teammate in 2017, this didn’t happen.

Mike Fires is also a FORMER member of the Astros. If he parted from the team on bad terms, why would he paint them in a positive light? The team is being accused by every team of cheating, so why not add fuel to the fire with a “first-person account”?

Two: Every Team Steals Signs.

If the Yankees had thought of it first, they’d do the same thing. But, it probably wouldn’t have mattered much in 2017 or 2019, as the Astros had home-field advantage. The Astros are being accused of cheating at home. A whole lot of good it did them this World Series as the Astros are the first team in World Series history to lose every game at home. 

But that’s beside the point. Every team in baseball is trying to gain advantages on their opponent. This is why pitchers and catchers sometimes change up the signs during the game. 

Bringing in a camera takes it to a level that any sane baseball fan would find unethical. Even I think the Astros did something unethical (if they are found to be guilty). But the Yankees would gladly do the same in a heartbeat. As would the other 28 teams in baseball.

Finally: This Doesn’t Fix The Yankees Postseason Woes.

As a team, the Yankees had a team slash line of .262/.339/.447. The teams OPS was .785, struck out 1,386 times, hit 241 home runs, drove in 821 runs, and amassed over 1,400 hits as a team. To put that into perspective, the Yankees struck out 8.5 times per game over a 162 game season, averaged 1.5 homers a game, drove in 5.1 runs per game, got 9 hits a game, and got 3.8 walks per game. They were a top 10 offense in baseball in 2017. And when you look at their statistical breakdowns for last season, they were even better in 2019 than in 2017! (baseball-reference.com)

But then they get to October.

In the 2017 ALDS, the Yankees hit .201/.289/.356. How do you go from .262 in the regular season to hitting .201 after you DEMOLISHED the Twins in the Wild Card game? A meager 35 hits over 5 games. Obviously, they turned a corner against the Twins (probably having something to do with the fact that the Twins can’t beat the Yankees in October) in 2019, but then comes Houston.

In 2017, the Yankees hit .205 compared to the Astros .187. In 2019, the Yankees hit .219 to the Astros .179. We amassed 45 hits in 2017, compared to 44 hits in 2019. How is it we got almost the same number of hits in 7 games we got in 6 games 2 years later?

The most telling sign is the strikeouts. When we had runners in scoring position, WE STRUCK OUT! In 2017, we struck out SEVENTY TIMES! This year? SIXTY FOUR! Yes, the Astros got fewer hits than we did both years, but they got hits with runners in scoring position. We couldn’t because we were striking out. 

Even our pitching sucked. 

Sure, Tanaka did well in 2017, but he regressed in 2019. But outside of him, our biggest arms were nowhere to be seen. Severino had an ERA in 2017 of 4.15, Betances and Dave Robertson had ERA’s of 9.00, Chapman had an ERA over 6. In 2019, it was just as bad. Chapman, Green, Ottavino, Severino, 15 innings pitched out of 54 total innings, a collective ERA well above 4. How truly effective is your closer if he averages an ERA above 6 in the ALCS between this year and 2017?

The Yankees have a postseason problem. The Astros MAYBE being guilty of cheating doesn’t fix the fact that the arms we rely on in the regular season disappear in October, and that our bats go cold the deeper we get into the playoffs. One can only hope that staff changeups can fix these negative trends for a 2020 run.

New York Yankees: Don’t blame Aaron Boone for unsuccessful season

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees had their season, unfortunately, come to an end with a 6-4 loss to the Houston Astros in game six of the ALCS. A lot of heat was placed on manager Aaron Boone that he “mismanaged” the team and the losses are on him.

I’ll give the haters this: Brett Gardner had no business being the three-hitter and Adam Ottovino shouldn’t have been brought in a few situations. Besides that, Boone did a fine job.

Here’s the truth: the Yankees’ offense didn’t perform. That’s what killed the season. It’s unfortunate but true. You can’t blame the manager for that.

Fans are taking their frustrations out on Boone when really all he does is make the lineups. There’s an argument for lineup decisions, but at the end of the day, it’s the players who didn’t perform.

Boone has won 203 games with the Yankees in his first two seasons managing. He has a .627 win-loss percent. With all the injuries this season, it’s incredible how successful the team was during the regular season. He’ll most likely win the manager of the year award and rightly so.

Fans have to remember that the Yankees had no business being a 100+ win team this year. Several of their key players during the season weren’t even on the starting lineup for the opening game of the season. Boone knew which guys to pull up from the minor leagues and which guys could compete at the major league level. This gets overlooked and was huge by him this season.

Take a moment and reflect on how many decisions by Boone impacted the team in a successful way. It’s much more than the times he made bad decisions.

New York Yankees: Paxton, Hicks Lift the Yankees to Fight Another Day

New York Yankees, James Paxton

With their backs up against the wall, the New York Yankees fought viciously against the Houston Astros to force a game 6.

James Paxton pitched a gem against a heavy-hitting Astros lineup. Through 6 innings of work, he allowed 4 hits, 1 run and struck out 9 batters on 112 pitches. The bullpen, which consisted of Aroldis Chapman, Tommy Kahnle and Zack Britton, pitched a combined 2.3 innings and allowed 1 hit, no runs and struck out 3 batters on 35 pitches.

The top of the 1st didn’t go according to plan for Paxton. Due to a pitch that bounced in the dirt, George Springer sprinted home to give the Astros an early 1-0 lead.

Justin Verlander also ran into issues of his own in the bottom of the 1st, who gave up a lead-off home run. The man responsible, DJ LeMahieu, blasted the baseball to right field, traveling 355 feet with an exit velocity of 103.2 MPH.

Aaron Hicks unleashed the floodgates in the bottom of the 1st with a 3-run blast to right field, banking just off the foul pole and granting the Yankees with a 4-1 lead. This knock traveled 347 feet with an exit velocity of 105.5 MPH and most importantly, released the zoo into hysteria.

This single moment from Hicks is arguably the most important in the series for the Yankees. The offense has been mediocre since game 2, leaving 26 runners on base and going 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position.

A few names, including Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, Edwin Encarnacion, Gary Sanchez, and Gio Urshela have all struggled severely. Before game 5 started, each player slashed at the following:

Brett Gardner: .133/.235/.133

Didi Gregorius: .125/.125/.125

Edwin Encarnacion: .067/.222/.133

Gary Sanchez: .188/.188/.294

Gio Urshela: .133/.188/.33

I don’t think I need to explain why this not a sufficient formula to win postseason games. All of these players have looked lost at the plate and have not replicated what they did in the regular season. That needs to change and quickly, or the Yankees will be in serious trouble.

With all of this being said, the Yankees live to fight for another day, beating the Astros by a score of 4-1. The starting pitching and bullpen were both excellent and the offense did just enough to sneak away with a victory. However, the offense can definitely use more of a motivation booster heading into Houston for game 6 tomorrow night.

 

New York Yankees hold on, Judge had all the confidence in the world

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees survived another day of their season with a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros Friday night. They sent the series to at least a game six which will be played in Houston.

Right-fielder Aaron Judge had all the confidence in the world in his team heading into game four.

“I knew we were going to Houston when I woke up,” said Judge following the game.

Aaron Judge finished 1-4 on the night where he singled in the first inning. He was then driven in by an Aaron Hicks three-run home run later that inning.

Both teams scored their runs only in the first inning. The Astros jumped first with George Springer scoring on a wild pitch. Following that, Paxton turned on the gears and silenced the hot Astro lineup.

The Yankees had a huge first inning that totally shifted the momentum of the game. DJ LeMahieu sent the second pitch he saw to right-center for a solo home run, which sent Yankee Stadium berzerk.

After three consecutive hits, Aaron Hicks took Justin Verlander’s changeup off the right-field foul pole for a three-run home run. Yankee Stadium quite possibly shook all of New York City following this.

“We had our backs against the wall, and we’re going to keep fighting,” said LeMahieu following the game.

James Paxton went six full frames with nine strikeouts. After allowing that first-inning run on the wild pitch, he was lights out.

Game six will be played tomorrow night in Houston at 8:08 PM EST. Both teams haven’t announced their starters yet.

New York Yankees: ALCS Game 1 Breakdown; Masahiro Tanaka vs Zack Greinke

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees and the Houston Astros have officially released their ALCS game 1 starters. Masahiro Tanaka will face a difficult challenge by going toe to toe against Zack Greinke.

Tanaka, who is known for his “hard as nails” performances in the postseason, is looking to steal game 1 from the Astros in Houston. If you don’t believe me, just take a quick glimpse at these impressive numbers. In 35 innings pitched from 2015-2019, Tanaka has recorded a 1.54 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 3.61 xFIP, 0.80 WHIP and a 3.31 SIERA. He also has a 92.7 LOB%, 8.23 K/9%, 2.06 BB/9% and a 0.77 HR/9%. All of these numbers scream utter dominance.

As far as Greinke is concerned, his numbers in the postseason aren’t atrocious by any means. In 70.2 innings pitched from 2011-2019, Greinke has recorded a 4.58 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 3.54 xFIP, 1.15 WHIP and a 3.19 SIERA. He also has a 67.0 LOB%, 8.15 K/9%, 2.04 BB/9% and a 1.53 HR/9%. Keep in mind these stats are inflated from his last start vs the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing 5 hits and 6 runs in 3.2 innings pitched.

Tanaka has Greinke beat in every single category expect for xFIP, SIERA and BB/9%. While the BB/9% portion is self explanatory and means Greinke is walking less batters than Tanaka, xFIP and SIERA are a bit more advanced.

Why does Greinke have a better xFIP in the postseason? Based on strikeouts, walks and home runs, he has been an overall better pitcher than Tanaka. Why does Greinke have a better SIERA in the postseason? Based on balls in play, he has been more successful at limiting hits and preventing runs than Tanaka.

In 1006.1 innings pitched, Tanaka has recorded a 3.75 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 3.49 xFIP, 1.13 WHIP and a 3.60 SIERA in his career. On the flip side, in 2872 innings pitched, Greinke has recorded a 2.93 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 3.74 xFIP, 1.16 WHIP and a 3.57 SIERA in his career. Massive difference in the sample size, but you get the gist of things.

However, the postseason is a completely different ballgame compared to the regular season. While clutch can be considered a controversial topic between those who adore stats and those who despise stats, there is no denying that nerves still exist for each pitcher.

It will be interesting to see who rises to the occasion between Tanaka and Greinke. Both pitchers are capable of performing exceedingly well and have proven so in their careers. Regardless, this game will more than likely be a bitter battle to the finish line.

New York Yankees: The best option for CC is out of the bullpen

New York Yankees, Yankees, CC Sabathia

C.C. Sabathia was left off the New York Yankees’ ALDS roster due to a shoulder injury. The reoccurring injuries with Sabathia (mostly his knee) have set him back all year and caused him to not have his “A” stuff.

Due to being unhealthy, it was extremely difficult for the Yankees to get length out of him in his outings. However, Sabathia’s stuff is still effective and can get guys out at the major league level. Therefore, the only place for him is as a reliever in the bullpen.

The Yankees tried this strategy out in the final series of the regular season where Sabathia pitched a perfect inning and looked comfortable and confident doing it.

It’s clear the Sabathia didn’t pitch the way he’s used to this season. Potentially a new role for him would be effective. A one or two-inning appearance would be perfect for Sabathia – not too much on his body and the Yankees could get a couple of innings of strong pitching from a veteran.

Sabathia has said he’s OK with a bullpen role.

“I’m excited and nervous,” said Sabathia weeks ago before his injury. “I don’t know what to expect. It’s the first time I’m going on the field doing something I’ve never done.”

Sabathia continued, “It seems like a pretty fun role and something I feel like I can do.”

The 39-year-old is planning on retiring after this season. This would be the perfect way to end his legendary 19-year career. The fans would love to see him pitch one last time in pinstripes especialyl in the postseason.

The New York Yankees release 25-man ALDS roster

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees announced their 25-man roster for the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins Friday.

They have decided to go with 12 pitchers with the rotation being James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino.

CC Sabathia was left off the roster for the ALDS due to a shoulder problem he’s had. Sabathia was given a cortisone shot last week in which the shoulder didn’t respond well, explaining his absence from the roster.

“It’s tough, obviously, being here and not being able to participate in playoffs,” said Sabathia. “I didn’t want to put the team in jeopardy. I want the best opportunity for this team to win a championship. I feel like we have a good opportunity. I didn’t want to be selfish and go out there hurt and put the team in a bad spot.”

Edwin Encarnacion, who’s been on the injured list, is on the roster expecting to play in game one of the series. “(He’s) good,” said manager Aaron Boone during Thursday’s press conference. “He’s out there hitting… Smoked a couple (of) balls out there, hit a homer. Yesterday really cut loose with some.”

Gio Urshela also had an injury scared that sparked some questions on his spot on the roster. However, Boone is anticipating that his third basemen is ready to go. “Yeah, Gio’s good. I’m not concerned. He had a full workout yesterday and he’s good to go.”

Players left off the roster include Mike Ford, who slashed .259/.350/.559 this season and Clint Frazier, who batted .267 with 12 home runs in 69 games played.

Since Clint Frazier is not on the roster, the only left-handed bats they will have in the lineup is Didi Gregorius and Brett Gardner.

Key players during the season Mike Tauchman (calf) and Aaron Hicks (elbow) will most likely miss the remainder of the season due to their injuries.

New York Yankees: Is the postseason rotation too thin?

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees announced their postseason rotation Thursday per Aaron Boone in a press conference.

Game one will be given to James Paxton, followed by Masahiro Tanaka, and then Luis Severino will be taking the mound for game three. If needed, a game four will most likely be a bullpen game featuring an opener.

There have been many questions surrounding the Yankees’ rotation with concerns of: is this enough?

The Yankee postseason rotation that they have announced is exactly what it should be. Paxton, Tanaka, and Severino are all guys that have shown they can “clutch up” in the moment.

There’s a concern on Paxton because he hasn’t thrown a single pitch in an MLB postseason, primarily because he wasn’t on a team that was playoff contenders until he joined the Yankees. Even though he doesn’t have that experience, Paxton has shown he has the stuff to take down any lineup.

“I’m excited,” said Paxton. “It’s gonna be awesome, I’m really honored to get this opportunity, to pitch game on. It’s gonna be great.”

Paxton also gives his teammates confidence. “He’s the best left-handed pitcher in the game, in my opinion,” said Aaron Judge. “He’s an animal out there. That’s what he’s shown the past couple starts… that’s what’s going to help us going into the playoffs.”

Tanaka is known for his dominant performances in October where he’s credited to a 1.50 ERA in his four career playoff series. He seems to flip a switch come playoff time.

Boone has confidence in his go-to guy Tanaka. “If he’s throwing the ball the way he’s capable of and on top of his game, we feel like he’s a good matchup anywhere.”

The bullpen is also highly capable of giving the New York Yankees a strong game. The opener strategy had been predominately effective during the regular season and can really keep opposing lineups on their heels.