Another day, another disappointing loss at Tropicana Field. The place is simply a house of horrors for the Yankees over the last couple of years. Today’s score: 4-0 in favor of Tampa Bay. This game followed a fairly common theme for the team in the early going: not much offense, not great starting pitching, but an excellent bullpen performance to hang around. Let’s get to the takeaways after the jump.
This team will win the vast majority of games in which the pitching staff allows four runs. I know this rings a bit hollow considering how sleepy the offense looked today, but it’s true. The hitters in this lineup are incredibly talented, save for Jay Bruce at this stage of his career (more on him in a second). Obviously, a lot of guys aren’t hitting at the moment which can make things feel hopeless. But remember, this is a 162 game season and we’re just 8 games in.
I know people are going to love that I’m citing projections, but PECOTA forecasts this team to score 912 runs this season. FanGraphs’ Depth Charts projections are just a couple of runs behind that. There’s no denying this has been a brutal start for the bats, but sooner rather than later, things are going to turn around. There are too many good hitters in this lineup not to.
The team isn’t going to hit .232/.338/.339 with runners in scoring position all season (that was the team’s mark before today’s 0-for-4). Believe it or not, the team’s .256/.373/.468 (129 wRC+) in the same situations last year was third-best in MLB. They’re more than capable of getting back to that point.
I know it’s frustrating to watch, but have some hope. It’s a long season. It’s not over on April 10th.
Jay Bruce looks toast. Get well soon, Luke Voit. I’m a proponent of waiting things out as the previous takeaway clearly illustrates, but there’s one change I’d like to see happen. It’s time for Jay Bruce to go and give someone else a shot until Voit is healthy. Bruce looks done and the alternatives can’t be much worse.
Jay Bruce is now hitting .111/.250/.222 in 27 AB.— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) April 10, 2021
That’s the worst BA, OBP and SLG of any player on the Yankees (min. 5 AB).
And his 10 K are the 2nd most of any Yankee this season.
He’s a bit of a convenient scapegoat considering a bunch of guys aren’t hitting right now, but frankly, what does he bring to the table? He looks uncomfortable at first base and isn’t doing anything at the plate. Entering today, Bruce has hit .215/.282/.445 (91 wRC+) in 816 plate appearances since 2018. I don’t think the Yankees are risking much by cutting bait after 32 plate appearances this year. Keep in mind he looked pretty bad toward the end of spring training too, for what that’s worth.
For someone who’s supposed to bring left-handed power to this lineup, the veteran has showed very little pop in the early going. Bruce has only two hard hit balls (defined as 95 MPH or greater) this season: his home run (105.6 MPH) against Dean Kremer on April 6th and a single (99.3 MPH) against TJ Zeuch on the 4th.
Giving him a chance was a decent idea, it’s time to cut bait. I’d rather watch a natural first baseman play the position even if the bat is no certain upgrade (i.e. Mike Ford). Moving DJ LeMahieu over to first and starting Rougned Odor at second baseman is another option, although I find that less than ideal. LeMahieu loses a bit of value going from second to first, and though Odor is worth a flyer, I’m not ready to hand him everyday at-bats. He could actually do worse than Bruce.
This might be the last time we see Domingo Germán until the end of the month. After today’s lackluster outing, Germán has pitched just seven innings combined in his first two starts. He’s also allowed four homers in that time (Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena took him deep today). It’s not been good, folks. His dominant spring training is a mere distant memory now.
Just a guess, but I anticipate the Yankees optioning Germán to the Alternate Site after today. It may look like a performance-related decision, but I actually think it will have to do with upcoming off days. Thanks to no games this coming Thursday and the following Monday, the team doesn’t need a fifth starter for almost two weeks.
His struggles certainly make such a decision easier, of course. If he pitched well, the Yankees may not consider utilizing the upcoming off days to the team’s advantage. But in any event, that’s not what happened and the bullpen has been worked hard in the first two game of this series. An extra fresh arm would be nice to have.
In fairness to Germán, his line today might have looked a tad better if not for his second inning. In fact, the two runs he allowed that frame were more frustrating than the dingers given up. He had an opportunity to escape without giving up a run, but instead, a grounder just out of the starter’s reach turned into a two-run infield hit.
If Germán fields that ball, he could have thrown out Joey Wendle at home. Or, if he doesn’t deflect it and DJ LeMahieu converts the out, only one run scores and Germán would have had two outs and a runner on third, making for a decent chance to escape further unscathed.
- Rays starter Chris Archer exited this one in the middle of the third inning due to injury, which the team called right lateral forearm tightness. Doesn’t sound good for the righty who just came back from thoracic outlet surgery.
- Justin Wilson made his season debut this afternoon. He throw a scoreless fifth inning and struck out two. The lefty also issued a walk.
- Jonathan Loaisiga tossed another two scoreless innings and fanned three. He allowed his first baserunners of the season, though. Slacker. Luis Cessa threw a clean eighth inning after Loaisiga.
- Some good news: Aaron Judge returned to the lineup and looked just fine. He scorched a single and Aaron Boone said in the postgame that he expects him to play tomorrow.
Back to the drawing board tomorrow afternoon. The Yankees will try to avoid a sweep behind Jordan Montgomery tomorrow afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10pm. See you then.