Game 25: Frustrating End to the Road Trip

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The Yankees need to win this game. Baltimore is bad. They faced a bad pitcher. This specific game demands the Yankees put their best foot forward to win a series against the dregs of the AL East. Instead, the Yankees played down to their competition and lose a game they had no business losing by the score of 4-3. The Yankees are 11-14.

The Awful Tenth Inning

We will start at the beginning. The extra-inning rule is stupid. It doesn’t accomplish anything except undermine the competitive integrity of a nine-inning game. The rule is in place though. We can complain about it until we’re blue in the face, but it is part of the game for now. Teams have to perform accordingly.

When you are the road team in extra innings, it is advantageous to hunt for as big an inning as possible. The reasoning is pretty straightforward. The home team also gets a runner on second base and has the chance to win a ballgame without having to do too much. The Yankees were already at a disadvantage because Tyler Wade led off the inning.

If you’ve followed us on the blog or the podcast, you are very familiar with my feelings on Tyler Wade. He is not a major league-caliber player. He is a better baseball player than me, but who cares. Amongst his professional peers, Tyler Wade does not belong. With Wade leading off and a runner on second, the offensive options are minimal. If it was another hitter, I’m sure the Yankees are asking that player to hit away. Wade can’t hit, so you ask him to lay a bunt down to get the runner over. He was unsuccessful.

Tyler Wade has to get the bunt down. It is his job to do so. Instead of laying down a sacrifice bunt, Wade had three non-competitive attempts in his at-bat. When you can’t hit a lick, you have to execute fundamental baseball plays to make team contributions. Not only was he unsuccessful, but he also looked totally overwhelmed in the box. I understand Tyler was facing a nasty lefty, but he had no shot at laying the bunt down. There was poor technique. There wasn’t a competitive nature to the attempts. You could see the struggle immediately.

It is also curious to give the bunt sign with two strikes. You have to allow Wade the opportunity to run into a pitch he could pull. The chances aren’t high, but lighting can strike. I am not sure what Boone saw in Wade’s at-bat that made him think his hitter could get a sacrifice down. There wasn’t good execution or management in that spot.

The Wade bunt attempt wasn’t the only issue in the inning. We love to mention that it is early in the season. This is true with 130 plus games remaining on the calendar. With that said, the Yankees have an emerging Aaron Hicks problem on their hands. He’s obviously going through a power shortage, but his command of the hitting zone has deteriorated. Hicks has been susceptible to changeups all year. He is expanding the zone while also being uncharacteristically aggressive at the plate. This is the pitch from his at-bat in the tenth inning:

What are you doing with this pitch? If you turn on it, it may be a ground ball on the pull side, and the runner can’t advance. The alternative is hitting a weak fly ball that you hope finds grass. The result was the latter, but it landed in the fielder’s glove. This is anecdotal, but it always feels like the hitter in the box with a run-scoring opportunity and one out sways the outcomes of innings more times than not. Hicks was in a big spot. He was unable to come through, and it was a massive swing in the frame.

The tenth inning was a microcosm of a larger trend for the team that we will get into now.

The Inconsistent Offense Returns

Jorge López is not a particularly good starting pitcher on the Major League level. He entered today’s game with an ERA over 8. His career ERA is 6.18, along with a 1.50 WHIP. However, even with a lineup struggling to put it together, López is the perfect elixir for ailing hitters. So in true 2021 fashion, he was successful against the Yankees from a run prevention perspective.

This game followed a growing theme for this offense. They are routinely hitting the ball hard, but it isn’t always leading to run production. It also feels like there are more opportunities for the hitters to do real damage in the hitting zone, which isn’t consistent. López didn’t pitch well. His line looks better than his performance if we’re going by control and command of the zone. Here is his pitch chart:

There are changeups without bite, as well as sinkers that didn’t sink. There are a lot of pitches in the hitting zone. The funny thing about this is the Yankees were smoking the ball. Here are some of the exit velocities against López:

One would think these velocities would lead to success, but they didn’t. One reason could be everyone’s favorite baseball term: launch angle. It is important to keep in mind that launch angle is a measurement and not a technique. It gets a bad rep because some people misuse it. The sweet spot for launch angles is generally between 15 and 30 degrees. The lower end of that spectrum will result in line drives, while the higher will be more of the fly ball variety. The key is obviously combining elite exit velocities with launch angles in this range. That isn’t happening right now. Some of these balls are either below the spectrum or way above the spectrum. They’re not hitting that sweet spot.

We know this even with the eye test. There are a ton of ground balls from the lineup. The encouraging sign is the loud contact. The next step is to get this contact in the air with consistency. We see it a little bit more, but they aren’t there yet. Until that happens, the inconsistency from a run production standpoint will remain.

Montgomery Shines

Jordan Montgomery is off to an inconsistent start this year, but this feels like his best performance of the early season. Jordan had four pitches working in unison with fantastic command. Pitch efficiency is something the young starter has needed to improve from start to start. He was far from efficient in Cleveland, but today was the total opposite. It all begins with Montgomery’s command.

We’ve paid attention to Montgomery’s velocity over the last few years, but the command is what makes him successful. He features a five-pitch arsenal that depends upon movement and location more than velocity. Montgomery has never really had control issues. He can throw strikes. It’s been a battle to locate pitcher’s pitches with consistency. This leads to stretches where he nibbles a bit too much and then has to battle to get back into counts. Montgomery did a fantastic job of dominating the zone today.

The change and curve were Jordan’s best friend today. The two pitches led his pitch usage today. They rewarded him. Of his twenty changeups, he earned a 25% CSW rate. The curve was even better. He threw eighteen of them, and it amassed a 44% CSW rate. Jordan had more called strikes on the curve than he did swing and misses. That is a good sign for a pitcher who relies heavily on the curve to induce soft contact and end at-bats quickly.

Montgomery’s issues came with the cutter. Trey Mancini’s game-tying home run came on a poor cutter. This isn’t to say the pitch performed poorly. It was just the one pitch that gave Jordan difficulty at times. Here is the chart on the cutter:

As you can see, there were some good ones and not so good ones. If he had a little bit better command of the pitch, there is a chance he wins this game.

I believe Boone had a pretty quick hook for Montgomery. He was cruising for the most part. I understand he had a relatively rested bullpen, but building Jordan up feels important. This is nitpicking, though. Jordan’s outing was encouraging.

The Yankees did have a successful road trip. It was 5-3. They could’ve easily gone 7-1 or 8-0 if we’re honest. There are still some things to clean up. The Yankees return home tonight to face the Tigers at the Stadium tomorrow evening. It will be Cole versus Skubal at 7pm. Enjoy your night and the NFL draft if you’re watching. The Niners better draft Fields or trade for Aaron Rodgers.


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  1. The Original Drew

    I am straight up not having a good time watching this team currently. Bad managing, bad fundamentals, bad play top to bottom.

    I don’t think it’s going to continue all season, but man, it’s so incredibly frustrating to watch right now.

  2. Mungo

    5-3 is an ok road trip, but it easily could have been 7-1, and I would have accepted 6-2. The ball taking a bad bounce as it did on Gleyber’s ball happens, but they should not be in a position where a ball taking a bad bounce is the reason they lose to a bad team like Baltimore.

    And, yeah, the automatic runner at 2B sucks. It is a benefit more to weaker teams, especially at home, by giving them a better chance to win. I tolerated it last year. It’s inexcusable this year.

  3. Alex

    Aaron Hicks is absolutely abysmal. When is he getting traded or DFA’d? Cashman giving him that contract alone is a fireable offense. Eat as much money as needed and get rid of him. His talent is already questionable enough as-is and then add to that the fact that he plays with absolutely zero effort. A guy like him has absolutely zero place in a starting lineup and if it were not for the contract, he would have been the odd man out instead of Tauchman. With his defense in free fall, there is legitimately not a single good thing he does at this point and his value is negative unless he is able to get on base at least 38% of the time.

  4. FrankFooter

    It’s painful to watch Sanchez try to frame a pitch that is a strike on the corner by moving it a foot towards the middle of the plate or up which results in a ball. Also why put up a target for the pitcher if you’re just going to move it and drop your glove to the hitters ankles every time the pitcher starts their rotation. I’m glad they brought in a next gen catcher’s coach to help him out.

  5. Wire Fan

    Wish Boone and the Yankees analytics group would stop the one batter leash non sense. If the leash is one base runner, just bring in the next reliever. (Unless it is something specific like a left on left matchup)

    Also think it is worth saving Chapman for extras in a tie game. He has to be harder to bunt off of and he gets a lot of K’s. Let Loaisiga, Green or even O’Day or Wilson pitch the 9th as a clean inning. Yeah those guys might give it up and Chapman never pitches, but I think that gives them the best odds of winning over the long haul.

    • Brian

      The batter to batter nonsense this team does from the 6th onward is very annoying. Just give Chad Green the ball there, he’s probably better than a maybe gassed Monty. Stop trying to get cute and steal outs from the bullpen and put the team in the best position to win.

  6. Brent Lawson

    They cannot run the bases, bunt, throw or any other fundamentals of baseball, that’s on the manager.

  7. Jim

    Boone dunno what he’s doone

  8. Frankie Ho-Tep

    Okay I won’t curse this time.

    So we’re going to totally ignore Boone’s decision-making bottom 10? What are we doing here?

    Not giving the IBB to the lefty-hitting Mullins, he of the .340/.393/.526 slash, to face righty Austin Hays with a srikeout rate north of 30% is an egregious error. That is as simple and automatic as a managerial move gets.

    It’s almost as bad as failing to challenge a late game-changing play because you took too much time and then go on a tirade like it was the umpires’ fault. But comparisons are tricky!! Boone’s gaffs are adding up so quickly already this young season that it’s difficult to keep track.

    Bunting is hard. Getting down a bunt against a same-sided pitcher throwing 98 and wild is even harder. These are easy decisions for Boone to make. There’s no excuse for it.

    • Randy

      You’re criticizing Boone but not the light hitting back up middle infielder who at this point should be capable of laying down a bunt on a hard throwing lefty reliever with control problems? There is no excuse for non competitive bunt attempts from a light hitting infielder either.

      • Zach

        Who made the decision to let that light hitting backup middle infielder get game changing at-bats?

        • Randy

          It doesn’t matter. He still has to execute. Is it Boone’s fault Wade can’t hit?

          • Zach

            If Wade is not capable of hitting, and he isn’t, then he shouldn’t be on the roster. That’s Cashman’s fault, plain and simple. But a manager still has to do whatever possible to help the team win. Managing the game in a way that gives Wade crucial at-bats is inexcusable. Boone makes so many mind-numbingly stupid decisions every game that ones like this aren’t noticed, but he is still responsible for them.

      • Frankie Ho-Tep

        I’m not trying to give Wade a pass here. It was infuriating. That was covered well in the recap. My focus is on the manager, whom you gave a free pass to. Baseball is hard. But we could have made better managerial decisions from our couch today. Boone missed an easy one.

        • Randy

          I didn’t give him a free pass. I talked about having him still bunt with two strikes. They didn’t hit with run scoring chances. How is that on Boone?

        • Bubba Crosby's Left Cleat

          It’s on the Manager for playing Wade & the GM for not improving the “Tyler Wade” position in years, when other teams constantly do so for free. How have the Yankees not added any real IF or OF depth in years? Tauchman was out of options and their next best options are… Trey Amburguey? Estevan Florial?!

  9. dasit

    the extra inning rule is an abomination designed by people who don’t like to watch baseball

    however, the designated pinch-hitter and pinch-runner are fantastic ideas

    • Brian M

      It’s really early in the season, I know. But let’s say Hicks continues to hit/ field/throw like this. At what date would it be appropriate to say enough is enough, and move on? He’s a career .230 hitter who hasn’t done enough in his career to merit waiting him out. And since coming back from elbow surgery his arm isn’t the same, plus his range and first step in the outfield appear diminished.

      I like Hicks and hope he turns things around. But he looks pretty washed up out there.

      • Randy

        It’s still pretty early for that. He’s proven good things for the Yankees specifically. I expect him to turn it around at some point.

        • Alex

          I have a tough time being optimistic about Hicks at all, Randy.

          He is a career .232 hitter who has only had 1 semi-healthy and productive season with the Yankees and is now aging. His offensive numbers have been in decline each of the last few years, with his walk rate last season being the only saving grace. His defense has also fallen off a cliff, and add to that the fact that what used to be a plus-arm appears to be a thing of the past.

          The smart move would be for the Yankees to recognize that Hicks is no longer a starting-caliber player, eat however much money they need to in order to facilitate a trade, and cut their losses as soon as possible.

    • Gerreddardit Cole

      Boone’s gotta go, Randy. You can’t split series with the 100 loss Orioles and keep your job. He has no clue what he’s doing. Tyler Wade should never have been in the ballgame. Odor has been our clutchest hitter. Why was he taken out? Judge is apparently hurt so why is he pinch hitting. If he can pinch hit he should start. At least DH him and put Stanton in LF. Boone routinely gets out managed and then desperately tries to challenge the last play so he can claim he did something. When Harper and Didi were hit last night Girardi came running out and got tossed. Boone doesn’t fight for his players and as a result they don’t fight for him. The best he can do is look like a disappointed father when Clint Frazier makes an out at 3rd. Get in his face and make an example of him. The patient wise old man approach only works with a legend like Joe Torre.

      • Zach

        If they keep playing like this, the Yankees will be the 100 loss last place team, not the Orioles. Young, energetic, exciting teams generally play better than old, cheap, lifeless ones.

      • Bubba Crosby's Left Cleat

        Tyler Wade shouldn’t have been in the ballgame, but it’s also on Brian Cashman for not upgrading the backup IF position after multiple years with injuries to the team. It’s pathetic to not even have a better internal option than Wade or go out and find one in one of the biggest buyer’s markets in FA history after 2020.

        Marwin Gonzalez got $2M! Watching him, Whitlock, and Ottavino have successful seasons in Boston is going to be maddening. Gonzalez isn’t Babe Ruth out there, but at least he can play defense & lay a bunt down.

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