The Yankees Keep Embarrassing Themselves

The Yankees Keep Embarassing Themselves
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Yankees Keep Embarrassing Themselves

A few weeks ago, New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner appeared on The Michael Kay Show amid the team’s struggles. Hal stated that he was “confused” as to why the fans were so upset given it was still only June. In the four weeks since he last spoke, the team has gone 10-12. They have fallen from third place to last place in the AL East and are now two-and-a-half games back of the final Wild Card spot. Since Aaron Judge went down they are 15–21 and rank dead last in many offensive categories. It is fair to wonder if Hal’s confusion has been cleared up given the teams recent play.

To make matters worse, the Yankees have struggled during what should be a favorable portion of their schedule. Coming out of the break, they were set up nicely. A six game road trip against the last place Colorado Rockies, the Mike Trout-less Los Angeles Angels and then three at home against the last place Kansas City Royals.

Managerial Questions

So far, the Yankees are just one and four having lost two of three in Colorado and the first two in Anaheim. On Sunday, their bullpen blew two separate two-run leads in the eighth and 11th innings. They lost a series in which every starter they faced had an ERA north of six.

On Monday, they blew another late lead when Shohei Ohtani hit a two-run game-tying homer in the bottom of the eighth. With a man on first and Mickey Moniak on deck, many fans questioned why they decided to even pitch to Ohtani in that spot. Aaron Boone indicated that he did not consider that move– especially since Moniak came in hitting over .330. Considering that they had already walked Ohtani intentionally just three innings prior to load the bases for Moniak, this did not make much sense. Boone explained his decision during his weekly appearance on the Talkin’ Yanks podcast. When the hosts pushed back on Boone’s decision to pitch to Ohtani, he said “When you manage the team you can make that call.”

On Tuesday night, it was more of the same for the Yankee offense. They registered just two hits and one run off of Angels starter Patrick Sandoval over seven-plus innings. This is already the 35th time this season that the Yankees have allowed an opposing starter to go six-plus innings and allow two or fewer runs. That is 36% of their games thus far. Sandoval entered the game with 6.23 ERA over his previous six outings.

Boone Believes Yankees Can Make Playoffs

Later on in the show, Boone explained why he still believed in the teams chances to make a postseason run. He cited teams like the 2019 Washington Nationals, 2021 Yankees, 2021 Atlanta Braves and 2022 Philadelphia Phillies as teams who started slow and turned it around. The 2019 Nationals and 2021 Braves won the World Series. The 2022 Phillies lost the World Series in six games. The 2021 Yankees lost the Wild Card playoff game and did not make the Divisional round.

Bullpen Struggles

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The Yankees bullpen, which led the major in ERA in the first half has struggled mightily recently. In the last nine games they have pitched to a 7.36 ERA. The Yankees have gone just 2-7. The most concerning reliever is Michael King. King has a 6.27 ERA over his last 18 2/3 innings. He has nine walks compared to 19 strikeouts and has surrendered four homers in that time. The Yankees cannot afford these struggles from one of their most trusted bullpen arms.

Where have you gone, Anthony Rizzo?

Another big concern for the Yankees is Anthony Rizzo. Over his last 35 games, Rizzo is slashing .161/.283/.202. He has not homered in over 40 games, dating back to May. Since June 1 he has a 44 WRC+ and a -0.7 FWAR. Both rank last among all MLB first baseman in that time. Rizzo has been a complete no-show since Aaron Judge went down and that is perhaps the biggest reason for the Yankees offensive struggles.

Prospect Mismanagement

One of the bright spots of Monday’s loss was Oswald Peraza. The Yankees top prospect led off and reached base all five times. He singled once and drew four walks, seeing 34 pitches total. He also stole a base and played good defense at third, a position he is learning on the fly. Peraza was recalled after Josh Donaldson suffered a calf strain this weekend, which could possibly end his season. Donaldson hit .142 prior to his injury, posting a negative WAR in the process. He reached base three times only once this season. Peraza has been on base all six times he came to the plate since he was recalled. The Yankees did not view Peraza as someone who was ready to take the job from Donaldson. Yet the moment Donaldson gets hurt Peraza is leading off and starting at third base.

Deadline Approaching

The Yankees find themselves in sole possession of last place in the AL East this late in the year for the first time since 1990. With two weeks until the trade deadline, it’s clear that changes must be made if this team is going to turn things around. Whether that is the current players improving, or outside acquisitions coming in, something has to give soon. Brian Cashman has a history of being very active around the deadline and it is reasonable to expect that to continue this year.

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Evan Kelly

Senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying Finance. Covering the Yankees for

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