We finally had some nice weather in the New York area this weekend, and I hope you found something better to do than watch the Yankees sleepwalk through another loss. Today, they fell to the Rays 3-1 and have now lost four straight. The Yankees are 29-25 one-third of the way through the season, which is an 87-win pace. It’s not what you want. Here are the takeaways:
When is it OK to talk about the coaching staff’s job security? Yes, there have been some disappointing performances offensively and a handful of injuries this season. But the constant sloppy defensive play, poor baserunning, and dreadful at-bats does reflect on Aaron Boone and his staff. We’ve now seen this for a few years running with him at the helm, by the way. And all the while: the placating quotes keep on coming:
Aaron Boone said he thought the at-bats were better today than in the Tigers series: “We’re just going to keep pouring into game plans and making subtle adjustments with individuals. We’ll keep working at it.”— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) May 31, 2021
That’s how he feels after the offense has now scored two or fewer runs in 9 of 12 games? The at-bats were better? Come on. This recent offensive performance has been pathetic, to say the least.
The Yankees are 62-52 since last year, which is an 88-win pace of 162. While that’s not horrible, it’s also far off from 100-win aspirations. At some point, the manager has to take some heat for the roster’s underperformance. Not everything is his fault, but when you grab someone out of the broadcast booth who hasn’t been in a clubhouse for about a decade, there’s a pretty decent chance that he’s just not made for the job.
Lineup changes need to happen. I don’t know how the front office or coaching staff can expect much different from the current group right now. It’s one thing to preach patience in April and even early May, but we’re now a third of the way through the season with a lineup that’s completely fallen flat. Yeah, it hasn’t been at full strength, but that doesn’t explain away everything.
I’m OK dreaming on DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres turning things around, as frustrating as they’ve been. But it’s another to keep running Rougned Odor, Brett Gardner, and Kyle Higashioka out there on a daily or near-daily basis. Clint Frazier has been awful. Mike Ford doesn’t belong. There are just too many players on this roster that play far too much, paired with a lack of urgency to make a move.
Boone spoke about Chris Gittens being on the team’s radar. He’s not going to be the panacea — there’s a good chance he’s another Ford-esque Quad-A slugger — but what else do the Yankees have to lose? He can relegate Odor and Ford to the bench, which seems like a plus to me. What, exactly, is holding up a Gittens promotion?
All that said, the Yankees will need outside solutions to patch up this lineup. Getting LeMahieu and Torres going could go a long way, but there are still a bunch of black holes at the bottom of this lineup.
It would be awfully nice to see a sense of urgency from the front office. The Yankees have three more against the Rays before three against Boston this weekend, both of which are pivotal series. The Yankees can’t lose the division in early June, but without an offensive jump start ASAP, they could be climbing out of a pretty big hole come the end of the week. They’re already 5.5 games out of first place as it stands.
I’m doubting Jameson Taillon’s upside. Today’s starter pitched well in the early going, retiring the first six of seven batters faced. But as usual, once Taillon had to turn over Tampa’s lineup for a second time, he struggled. The Rays plated one run in each of the righty’s final three innings.
Taillon now has a 5.10 ERA and 4.60 FIP through ten starts. I can’t help but wonder if this just might be what he maxes out at. He’s made a significant overhaul to his throwing motion and has a drastically different approach on the mound than he did while in Pittsburgh, but neither adjustment has worked particularly well thus far.
Taillon doesn’t throw as hard as he once did. Whether that’s because of the two Tommy John surgeries or a new throwing motion doesn’t matter. Today, he averaged 94.1 MPH with his fastball, which isn’t bad in a vacuum but also just doesn’t seem to work all that well for him upstairs. Plus, he’s having a tough time elevating the pitch anyway.
Rays hitters put seven of his four-seamers in play this afternoon and averaged a 100.4 exit velocity against the pitch. Ugh. So perhaps it’s no wonder that Taillon mixed in some sinkers today, akin to his old habits with the Pirates. I wouldn’t say he’s waving the white flag on the high heat just yet, but it sure seems like there’s some small degree of backtracking.
At some point soon, Taillon needs to find something to help him fare better against opposing lineups for a second and third time. Maybe some more sinkers will help, but I’m not holding my breath. If all else fails, I could see him replicating what Chad Green does in short spurts, at least. But the Yanks really need Taillon to work out in the rotation.
- Miguel Andújar drove in the Yankees’ only run of the day. He hit a solo homer in the seventh against Michael Wacha. Miggy also had a single today.
- Lucas Luetge, Wandy Peralta, and Luis Cessa tossed four shutout innings in relief and faced just one batter above the minimum. Nice work.
- Giancarlo Stanton is now 0-for-12 with 8 strikeouts since returning from the injured list. Oof. The Yankees badly need him to get back to his early-season form.
- Gleyber Torres made another error today and went 0-for-4. His fall from grace continues, sadly.