ALDS Game 5: Yanks Fall to Rays 2-1, Joyless Season Comes to an End

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Ah, well. Nevertheless. The Yankees got a phenomenal pitching performance tonight and it wasn’t enough. At one point the Rays had no hits in their last 30 plate appearances against the Yanks. The staff held the Rays to 2 runs in an elimination game but they got beat by Tampa. I have been loathe to admit this all season, but it’s pretty clear now that the Yankees were the inferior team.

The Yanks fell 2-1 to the Rays in Game 5 of the ALDS tonight, and it was a fitting end for a season that felt utterly joyless at times. Even still, I am very sad to see it end. I wanted to watch more Yankee baseball. We got preciously little of it this year. Alas, it was not to be.

Let’s get right to the takeaways, if you want to bear with me still.

1. That’s Why You Pay Gerrit Cole: There will be a lot of people to blame for this loss – and the underwhelming season overall – but Gerrit Cole is not one of them. The Yankees’ ace was marvelous tonight on short rest, and despite some less-than-stellar stuff. He lasted 5.1 innings, surrendered just one run on one hit, walked 2, and struck out 9.

As expected, he mixed in more changeups (11%) than normal, but he had velocity and used his fastball (49%) much more than any other pitch. Cole came out firing darts and he was determined to give it his all, and he sure did that.

I will say that he was clearly too amped up at the start of the game. After a first at-bat strikeout, Cole walked two of the next four batters and hit Arozerena to load the bases with one out. His pitch count was up and he fell behind Joey Wendle 3-0. he was on thin ice basically immediately. Look at his pitch location in the 1st:

He was all over the place and it almost bit him. The good news is that he came back from that 3-0 count to strike him out looking, and it was glorious:

Cole found his groove after this, and at one point struck out 7 of 9 batters, including Wendle there. He was on a roll and it was a case study in why you go out and pay a guy like Cole that kind of money. He is a true difference-maker. I mean, look at this:

The only other time Cole really ran into trouble was in the 4th inning after a Gleyber error. Torres, who had a really rough season defensively, booted a routine ball and it clearly messed with Cole again. He recovered and the only blemish against him all night was this, which came in the 5th inning:

This was extremely annoying! But you can live with it. At this point, though, Cole started to look visibly gassed. The Yankees brought him out for the 6th despite a high pitch count – the right move, might I add – and Brett Gardner saved the day. Honestly. Look at this incredible, incredible catch he made:

More on him in a minute. That ended Cole’s night, and as I said, it was a truly heroic performance from him. You could not reasonably ask for more from him than what he gave us tonight. The Yankees will face many questions this offseason, but they will not wonder about their ace.

2. The Offense Lays an Egg: That was a true offensive stinker from the Yankees. Now, to be clear, the Rays were not passive actors here. Their pitchers were phenomenal and Kevin Cash’s plan, which I felt gave the Yankees a pretty good chance to win, made me look foolish. The Yankees got thoroughly undressed by the Rays in this game – all year, really – and their offense got embarrassed in every way.

They did work four walks, but scraped just three hits in the nine innings of work. None were consecutive. They didn’t even stage a real rally, really. It is not difficult to find a scapegoat. Gerrit Cole came out and gave this everything he had only to be given this performance by the Yankees. Frankly, they should be embarrassed. The only saving grace was an Aaron Judge home run. It didn’t even look like he got it all. I mean, look at this:

I am not sure how Judge hit that out – off Nick Anderson no less! – but he did. Our man is so strong. I just wish he had more than 4 hits this postseason, even if 3 of them were home runs. Anyway, that was it. That was the whole offense.

I think the Yankees managed to have a few decent at-bats tonight. They were at least better than the box score showed. But it was a lackluster performance from a team that relies on its offense to win games. Sure, the Rays deserve a lot of credit here. They really do. But the Yankees were almost always going to need to score more than 1 run tonight to win, and they couldn’t do it.

3. Another Playoffs, Another Gassed Bullpen: The Yankees went to the bullpen in the 6th inning tonight and immediately went to Zack Britton. It was, of course, the correct move. He started sloppy but settled in and looked pretty good, all things considered. He certainly did his job. There was a bit of controversy when Boone lifted him with 2 outs in the 7th after a runner reached on a Gio error.

I don’t think this is fair, though. This was an elimination game and you want to use your best arms – not wait too long with a guy on 30 pitches. A fresh Chapman, for the top of the Rays order, was obviously the best move there. I give Boone props for having the guts to do it, and Chapman made him look smart:

This brings us to the 8th inning. For the second consecutive year, Aroldis Chapman could not get the job done. And for the second straight year, it was an excruciating at-bat that got us there. With one out in the 8th, Mike Brosseau – of course! – came to the plate. These guys, you remember, had a history in early September. Here is the pitch plot of the at-bat:

Pitch 10 landed in the seats. It was “poetic” if you subscribe to the narratives everyone loves. Predictably, I will not be linking to it or embedding it here. If you are a masochist, please seek it elsewhere. I do want to talk about the location, though.

Chapman was asking for it in this at-bat, honestly. None of those fastballs, save the 2nd, were high enough. He might throw extremely hard but Brosseau was increasingly on him during the plate appearance. He threw too many thigh-high fastballs on the inner third of the plate and he got burned.

It’s hard to say he didn’t deserve it.

Leftovers

  • The Curious Case of Mike Ford: Aaron Boone elected to use Mike Ford to pinch-hit for Kyle Higashioka to lead off the 8th inning. It was a strange choice! I don’t really understand it. I’ll think more on it than right now when I am less sad and mad, but it doesn’t make sense. At least use Clint Frazier if you’re going to pinch-hit, right? Ford did work a good at-bat but he struck out eventually.
  • DJ’s Vanishing Bat: DJ LeMahieu had a quietly bad series, I think. It felt like he hit everything into the ground and was an absolute zero at the plate tonight, going 0-4. His at-bats were not right and it made a huge difference. The Yanks rely on him to set the tone, and, in a way, he did that tonight. Just not the way we wanted. This may have been his last game in a Yankee uniform, by the way.
  • Another Night, More Sloppy Defense: The Yankees made two errors tonight. Neither directly cost them, but it was another sloppy display. The Torres error added about 20 stressful pitches to Cole’s ledger in the 4th inning and probably resulting in his plateauing earlier in the game than it otherwise may have. And Gio’s forced Boone to make a move to Chapman a batter sooner than he’d have liked. Again, neither directly cost the Yanks, but these were sloppy mistakes. They happened all year, so it’s not surprising they happened in the biggest game of the year.
  • A Potential Farewell to Brett Gardner: This is my last point of the night. We’ll have more tomorrow, but I really hope that wasn’t the end of the line from Brett Gardner in a Yankee uniform. I love the dude and he showed his far-too-many haters how valuable he is. He robbed a home run and was a consistently good at-bat all postseason. If that is it from him, I tip my cap to Brett. He’ll be a forever favorite of mine.

Nothing but an excruciating ALCS to watch. I love baseball as much as anyone in the world – can’t you tell? – but I will not be watching a pitch of the Astros-Rays ALCS. Not a single pitch. I just can’t do it.

Anyway, before we wrap this up, I want to take a moment to thank all of you for sticking with us this year. It’s been a year. It has been filled with challenges the likes of which most of us have never seen so I know I speak for all of us when I say that I really do appreciate all of you reading and following along with us. You guys are why we do this and we are eternally grateful to everyone who reads our website or listens to our podcast.

We’ll have a lot more on this in the next few days. There will be a lot of questions to ask and even more to answer. This will be a significant offseason for the Yankees. We’ll have you covered every step of the way.

Until then, thanks again for reading, and have a good night, everyone.

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Aaron Boone Evaluation Survey: October 12, 2020

25 Comments

  1. Smurfy

    Thank you all, Bobby. I must say “joyless” doesn’t do it, but yeah, pretty funky most times ( or those that dwell with you.) But toward the end of that winning streak in August, we had complete victories that left me joyfull. So, thanks to you guys and the Yankees for some grade A fun!

    • Mungo

      I enjoyed the season because there was a season. Needed a distraction during these difficult months. Not watching the ALCS though. Not one second.

  2. Everyone else seems to be giving their opinions about the necessary changes going forward, here is my assessment.

    1. They’ve only been in 2 World Series and won 1 in the past 19 years with the highest payroll in baseball over that time, so there is something wrong
    2. They have way too many one dimensional hitters on the team, there needs to be a better mix of both power and contact hitters and left/right handed balance. You can’t constantly give the best pitchers (the ones who are pitching with playoff games on the line) the same look (right handed slugger with opposite field power) and expect it to work consistently.
    3. They need better infield defense (except for Urshela, of course, and DJ if he is playing 2nd).
    4. They need to strengthen the rotation and I don’t see Tanaka (or Paxton or Happ) as part of the equation
    5. They need a solid defensive catcher on a full time basis-I never realized how good Higgy was behind the plate until watching him during the playoffs; if Sanchez was back there it would have been a disaster
    6. They need a better bullpen-Chapman has a $100M arm and a 5 cent pitching brain and 2X in a row he’s ended the season by giving up a bases empty HR when there was absolutely no reason to throw either Altuve that slider or Brosseau any pitch below the letters (which he did at least 5X in a row on Friday).

    If I owned the team it would be time to cut ties with both Cashman and Boone-not that they aren’t competent it’s just time for a change. Among the moves I would make:
    1 and most important: Sign DJ to a new contract
    2. Trade Luke Voit-I like him but he’s a liability on defense and his value is probably higher than it will ever be; maybe you fill one of the needs with just him. After all, they got Didi for less than that in a trade.
    3. Move Gleyber back to 2nd, DJ to 1st, and get a SS with + defensive skills who can consistently make contact
    4. Get rid of Sanchez and sign another catcher with similar abilities-there is plenty of offensive firepower in place without a potentially potent bat there
    5. Get another veteran starting pitcher who can start games in the playoffs-Severino isn’t likely to be a major factor in 2021, Garcia is still a kid, and Montgomery isn’t likely to be a star although useful. Trevor Bauer would obviously be perfect but I doubt the budget will handle it.

    There are some other things I would do but aren’t practical or can’t possibly happen:
    1. Trade Stanton-when he’s hot he’s on fire but when he’s not it’s awful or he’s hurt. But he isn’t going anywhere so it’s only a pipe dream.
    2. Trade Chapman-except for Mariano closers aren’t consistent year to year so why pay someone $!5M+ to give up season ending dingers? Britton is just as good as Chapman in that role and they would be in much better shape.

  3. Gerreddardit Cole

    Thank you, Bobby. I thought it was the worst loss of the season. I said we weren’t gonna win that series and we didnt. What it came down to in the end was managing. Rays have a good manager. We don’t. Kevin Cash was right about that when he went on his tirade.

    Boone’s gotta go. This is the 3rd year in a row that he’s regressed from where Girardi had us in 2017 with a much worse club. The defense is sloppy, the offense comes and goes when it pleases, he doesn’t do anything to help Gary, no sense of urgency and he lies about player injuries. Nobody is listening to him in that locker room. Nobody respects him. It’s time for a new voice. I know Buck wants to get back into managing. I think his discipline and attention to detail is just what this team needs. Not some laid back California dude who uses his 2nd best starter as an opener. Cash only wanted Boone because Boone fully embraced being a puppet.

    And I think Cash has to go too. Cash did nothing at the deadline to improve the club. We coulda used another starter, a reliever or a big bat. Instead he got none of those things. Cash pushed Girardi out of town so he could impose his metrics crap that just doesn’t win in the postseason.

    2nd year in a row the whole team was injured. The entire medical and training staffs should be let go.

    And the entire team philosophy needs to be thrown out in the trash. Every year they go with this boom or bust strategy and every year it goes bust in October. Sure they look good in July in the heat and vs bad pitching but every year I say that October is a different beast. It’s colder. You’re facing only thr best pitching. You’re just not going to hit 6 homers a game. You have to manufacture runs, pitch well and play great defense. We do none of those things.

    Tanaka, Paxton and Happ should not be resigned. DJ should be locked up since he’s our only .300 hitter. Gary should be traded unless we get a new manager that can help him. DFA Crappavino. What a bad signing that was. Chapman should probably be traded because he’s not a big game pitcher. Two years in a row he lost the series and before that he lost if for the Cubs before their lineup came back and bailed him out. Sure he can throw 100 but it’s straight as an arrow. He threw the same pitch to Brosseau 10 times in a row and each time you could tell he was seeing it better and better. Resign Gardy if he wants to be a 4th outfielder. Cut Tauchman. Cut Ford. Cut Wade. Pray that Sevy and Kahnle can return healthy because Cash won’t do a damn thing to make things better. He’ll just say Look at all these players we have coming back, we don’t need any help! It’s been the same damn thing for years, ever since George died and delivered us one last ring. George was a saint.

  4. MikeD

    Agreed. Not watching a single inning of the ALCS. I will watch the NLCS and then I will root for either the Dodgers or Braves to defeat the AL entry. It’s rare I ever root against the AL team, but it’s become more common the last few years.

    Ultimately, the injuries the Yankees suffered this season were more of an issue than last year’s. Severino and Paxton greatly weakened the starting rotation. Even having one of those two, at peak ability (Paxton wasn’t that even when pitching this year), could have been the difference. The loss of Kahnle too. Those three pitchers would have been very welcomed, and likely would have saved the pen, and I suspect made the difference.

    Regardless, this is four straight post seasons with this group that’s been unable to get it done and win the big game. Yeah, they were probably robbed in 2017, and they may have even arrived a year early, but the last three postseasons have led to disappointment.

    Baseball is about hope and renewal. I will hope for a great offseason and look forward to the renewal of baseball in 2021. Thanks for being our guide.

  5. I’m not the droids you’re looking for

    Thanks gang. You (and Mike’s Patreon) helped get me through much of this year.

    Onward.

  6. Brian B

    Thank you guys for the stellar insight on this blog. You guys definitely picked up the slack after the end of RAB. Very much needed and appreciated.

    With the way that 2020 has played out, I honestly couldn’t have seen a way that any positives could have come out of this miserable year. That being said, I was thrilled to see Montgomery come up huge in game 4 and to see Cole do exactly what we all expected him to in game 5.

    The hardest part for this team going forward is to get around the immovable pieces on this roster.
    Cashman isn’t going anywhere. I absolutely despise Boone as the manager, but they wanted a guy to take his cues from the front office and handle the media. That’s exactly what they got and they love him. They will have to win in spite of him.

    I also hated the move to allow Didi to leave. The timing of his injury, compounded with Torres’ apparent ability to play SS, enabled Cashman to let him walk. They didn’t factor in that Torres isn’t great at SS and also that Didi had the “it”. The moment didn’t scare him off. There’s no litmus test that Cashman has found to determine if a player can handle the NY playoff stage. Didi did and could. To let a player like that go was just stupid.
    I would love to see a reunion and move Torres back to 2B. Re-sign LeMahieu and have him roam around the infield just as did 2 years ago.

    I agree that now would be the time to trade Voit. He had a phenomenal year, and is still arbitration eligible. They need another LeMahieu. (Obviously easier said, than done). Someone who can make contact and keep the line moving. Everyone was trying to hit a HR last night. Same song, different day, series, month, season, etc. High level postseason pitching always seems to shut this down, outside of going to Cleveland and Minnesota.

    The rotation should be already set providing that they can all show up and stay healthy. I would love to see Tanaka back, but he’s not worth 23M. Maybe a Happ like 3/$51M?

    I still can’t believe that it’s been 1 ring in nearly 20 years. They’ve squandered so much talent over these nearly 2 decades. They’re not far off from where they hope to get to, but until they make the correct adjustments to this mix of sluggers, they will only continue to get knocked out before getting a chance to fight for #28.

    Can’t wait for that off-season blog. Go not Rays and go not Astros.

  7. Jonathan Stein

    I think it not productive to blame Cashman and/or Boone. It’s on the players. Cashman constructed a good team through a variety of different means: free agency – Cole, Tanaka, Chapman, Ottavino, LeMahieu; smart trades and pick-ups of discarded players – Hicks, Stanton, Frazier, Voit, Torres, Urshela, Paxton, Happ, Britton, Green, Cessa, Tauchman; draft and development – Gardner, Judge, Sanchez, Higashioka, Severino, Montgomery, Garcia, Schmidt, German, Wade, Ford, Andujar, and Holder. Outside of the Dodgers who were gifted one of the best players in MLB in Betts, nobody has a better roster.

    We lost because the players did not play well. Great players play well in critical situations. There was no Reggie Jackson on this team. They underperformed or, perhaps, some are overrated: Sanchez looked terrible this year both offensively and defensively; Torres is a poor defensive SS at a position where defense is critical; Voit is a good offensive 1B but his defensive limitations were even more obvious watching Choi at 1B; Paxton has been a not quite Sonny Gray disappointment; Tanaka is now at best a #3 or 4 SP; Hicks has not returned to his pre-TJS hitting level; Judge, maybe because he is always injured, is not going to be the next A-Rod or Mantle; Tauchman was a flash in the pan who came back to earth; Stanton can be great but is a streak hitter who is intermittently terrible; Happ is a once excellent SP whose best days are long past.

    Tampa Bay reminded me of the 1969 Mets: a team with excellent pitching and a bunch of no-name position players who over performed in the clutch. I give them credit. We now feel the same way the Baltimore Orioles felt in 1969.

    As for the future, I don’t think tearing the team apart will give us a WS championship. We clearly need another SP and another RP. It would be foolish to count on Severino or German next year. Severino probably won’t even be ready until July – August and we don’t know what we will get from German. Hopefully Ottavino has not experienced the all-to-frequent death of RP’s. Chapman is very good, but no Rivera. He has all too often failed in the clutch. Cashman will need to make a decision about Sanchez who appears to me to be a head case. He appears to me to be analogous to Greg Bird, a very talented player who has just failed to consistently produce.

    Always remember when we blame Cashman and Boone that all the big decisions are made collectively with Steinbrenner very much involved.

  8. Next year, without an engaged owner who is willing to step-up, it will be more of the same.

    Cashman will moan about teams wanting too much in trade talks, Boone will have his index cards from Casham and the analytics guys, Judge will still be overrated when is actually playing, Sanchez will have a second catching coach and a personalized hitting instructure ……trend here.

    Ideally, Cashman and Boone would go, someone who actually knows player development will take over the farm system, Boone does what others tell him, he of no coaching or managerial experience, will go because Steinbrenner cannot fire the entire team, resign Didi, trade Voit, clean out the mediocre 40 man roaster which means letting Estrada, Ford, Tauchman, Wade and Andujar go.

    One can dream!

  9. Chip

    Really sucks to have the year end like this. I was hoping to have more Yankee baseball through October. Can you give us an alternate history starting with the Yankees winning last night? Hey its something!

  10. Bobby Califano

    As someone who watches every game every season, this is the most difficult one to watch. It must’ve been equally difficult to have content of every day. Thank you guys, it is much appreciated. See you next season and looking forward to this off-season posts.

  11. This is a great blog. Heard David Cone on a telecast mention the fine writing and great analysis on Views. He is right about that, outstanding. Thank you.

    The Yankees were not going to go much further in any event. Cole cannot pitch every game and I believe there are potentially 14 games in the next 16 or 17 days. It would have been a struggle.

    Looking forward to Spring 2021. Montgomery the second year after TJ, Sevy, German, Big Maple (healthy? good question). Pitching looks promising for next year.

    Maybe an engaged owner who is tired of “same s–t, different day!”

  12. Thank you all for fillIng the void that RAB left in my heart. You did an amazing job dealing with this crazy season of 2020. Your love, passion and honesty for our team, comes shining through.
    To be eliminated 2 years in a row by the same result is a true heartbreaker. No matter, we’ll all be looking forward to the start of Spring Training and hoping for that elusive WS trophy.
    Thank you, for the best Yankees site ❤️⚾️

  13. CentralScrutinizer

    I could see the ending coming a mile away when the bats were silent. Two years in a row now our season ended with Chapman giving up a dinger in the late innings. He can throw hard but it’s straight and has little to no movement. And he’s not consistently at 99-101 these days so he’s having trouble putting guys away. They’ll eventually square up his fastball if he doesn’t locate it. The other problem is that he lacks confidence in his secondary pitches.He hung the splitter but got away with it and the slider was hit halfway to LA but foul. Contrast with the Rays army of guys who throw as hard as Chapman but have superior secondary stuff.

    On the Ford AB Boone was playing platoon match up all the way. That’s the extent of his imagination. Yes he should have used Frazier.

    There have to be some changes and accountability before next season. More contact oriented hitters and a deeper starting rotation. I’m not a fan of Boone but I don’t think just firing him (which I would be fine with) will change anything. There has to be a change in organizational philosophy because what they’re doing now is not going to produce a championship. I don’t really care for the Rays style of baseball.

    I have talked myself hoarse about how MLB needs to do something to limit the size of pitching staffs (and not that ridiculously high 13-man limit of Manfred’s) to reduce the influence of relief pitching. Baseball games should be decided by starting pitchers and position players. Relievers are the most one-dimensional and uninteresting players in the game. With a 28-man roster and the no days off the Rays’ approach carried the day but I doubt that it will be a lasting model although I’m sure many teams will try to copy it.

  14. george grossi

    Thank you. Move Torres back to 2nd, Get a defensive SS who can hit 250., Trade Voit, as his value will never be higher. ( all or nothing guy and not good D.) Trade Gary and get catcher to compete with Higgy, with good D and maybe some pop., Sign DJ to play first and DH. Get another starter and reliever. .

  15. Terry Sciarrino

    Enjoy the site.

  16. Dan Hermann

    If Judge had not bonked his head on that little overhang on the right field wall, don’t you think he could have made that catch? I didn’t see how far back the ball landed, but it looked like that cost him the catch. And speaking of next year…. We get back both Severino and German. Something to look forward to!

    • MikeD

      The one replay I saw with the side angle made it look a bit too far, even with his lengthy reach. Could be wrong, but that was my impression.

  17. Brian

    Great job on the site guys!! Appreciate it!

  18. dasit

    the yankees will be fine, this season is a joke, and chapman is difficult to root for, so i tip my hat to brosseau. what a moment for that kid
    thank you guys for a great year of content!

  19. Cashman now has led this team to one Championship in 20 years with more resources than anyone else. He has teflon on him and it is time that was sent packing. Think about this people, these are the New York Yankees and we have 1 championship in 20 years. Boone was also a mistake hiring when you had a winner like David Cone who knows more about baseball than just about anybody.

    • AD2

      Winners lose, losers never win. THat’s all i’ll say about Boone. Cashman has messed pitching decisions up for ten years now, and possibly more.

      Time for new blood.

    • Alex

      Cashman needs to go. Honestly, there’s not a single more overrated general manager in sports than him. I mean honestly, how much more payroll does the guy need to field a team that can compete with the Rays? $100 million? Is that not even enough?

      Do what the Dodgers did with Andrew Friedman several years ago and offer Eric Neander a promotion to Team President/GM. Of course, Hal probably doesn’t have the balls to do such a thing but its clear that Cashman and Boone need to be fired.

  20. Eric S.

    Thanks for your blog and podcasts – you help celebrate Yankee baseball in good times and help sooth us in the tough ones. Thanks!

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