Yankees’ growing list of worries won’t make this easy

Sunday marked the de facto quarter pole for the 2021 Yankees.

More from:

Ken Davidoff

Gio Urshela is 'glue guy' keeping Yankees from falling apart

Yankees won't be able to run from Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier problem

Yankees' big weakness never looked so obvious

Yankees' Gerrit Cole off to historic start: Stunning numbers prove it

The rising movement to get Curt Flood elected into Baseball Hall of Fame

When Luke Voit chased a Cesar Valdez changeup in vain in the rain late Sunday afternoon, securing a 10-6 loss to the Orioles in Baltimore, it marked the de facto quarter pole for the 2021 Yankees.

At 22-18, they stand on pace to finish 89-73. In a 60-game season, that would be 33-27, their exact record from last year’s COVID-shortened campaign.

Not exactly the most inspiring data point, eh?

Of course, the record without context hardly tells the whole story to this topsy-turvy pinstriped campaign, one defined most recently by educating civilians about “breakthrough” coronavirus thanks to the club’s nine positive tests by vaccinated personnel, including Gleyber Torres. For the Yankees to get to where they want to go, a journey that starts with the American League East title, they’ll have to fix some areas that look broken. Yet it might prove even more vital for them to maintain some areas that look fixed.

“We’re getting there,” manager Aaron Boone said after the game. “They’re grinding away. We’re starting to see better at-bats.”

The Yankees totaled 19 runs during their weekend visit to Orioles Park at Camden Yards, a considerable uptick from the five runs they tallied in three days at Tropicana Field. And you thought they had the sweep in the bag when they scored four runs in the first inning, right? Alas, Jordan Montomgery registered his worst start of the season (three innings, five runs), and his bullpen teammates couldn’t pick him up much, the O’s underwhelming offense raining blows upon Michael King (the losing pitcher), Wandy Peralta and Luis Cessa.

This sounds like a Yankees plot we might have anticipated in, say early February. Instead, this season has unfolded the opposite way, the pitchers bailing out the hitters more often than the other way around and steering the team out of its 5-10 beginning.

The Yankees fell to the Orioles on Sunday.
Getty Images

Even after Montgomery’s stinker, the Yankees boast a 3.62 starting pitchers ERA, third in the AL (thanks, Baseball-Reference.com). Domingo German and Corey Kluber and Montgomery (less so Jameson Taillon) show the potential to be capable postseason starters, and Luis Severino continues to work his way back from 2020 Tommy John surgery. Count this as one of two early encouraging developments for the club.

The other is that the Yankees’ two injury-prone behemoths, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, have both stayed active and productive. On Sunday, Judge blasted his fourth homer of the weekend and added a single and walk. He boasts a .298/.399/.611 slash line, his 12 homers tie him for the major league lead and for all the headlines generated by a pair of vague injuries, he has started 35 games and pinch-hit in two more.

“I feel like he’s settling into the season in a really good way and love where he’s at, obviously,” Boone said. “Still feel like there’s even more in there for him, though. That’s the scary part.”

Stanton, meanwhile, missed this weekend with left quadriceps tightness. If he can return to the lineup Monday night in Texas, with 33 games played and a .287/.347/.534 slash line at this juncture, that too would constitute a victory.

The need for repair goes to an apparent yet surprising area: Center field and left field. With Aaron Hicks potentially done for the season due to a torn sheath in his left wrist and Brett Gardner producing an awful .171/.261/.211 slash line, the call to prospect Estevan Florial could (and should) be coming sooner rather than later. Clint Frazier actually had a good game Sunday, contributing a homer, single and tremendous catch in right field as Judge was the DH in Stanton’s absence. Yet Frazier has miles to go before he can turn off the sirens blaring from his .155/.287/.311 slash line.

“The general consensus is everybody feels good,” Frazier said. “We have a lot of guys that are clicking at the right time.”

Maybe. Let’s throw in that Gary Sanchez, demoted to number two catcher, has actually performed better lately, while DJ LeMahieu’s power is way down. The quarter pole could be worse, could be better. All the Yankees have to do is jettison the bad stuff and keep the good stuff, then cross the finish line ahead of their 29 competitors. Piece of cake, right?

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Ken Davidoff

Follow us on Google News

Filed under