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Game 104: Yanks mount comeback to sweep Marlins

They finally did it! After being 4-10 in potential sweep clinching games and 13-25 in day games, the Yankees pulled off the comeback win fueled by some poor defense by the Marlins to win this one for the sweep. That is their first series sweep since June against the Blue Jays. They are now a season-high 8 games over .500 at 56-48 and just 1 game back in the loss column for a playoff spot. And, they play their next 10 against the lowly Orioles, Mariners, and Royals. To the takeaways:

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Game 85: Offense strikes early, Cessa bridges gap in win

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It probably shouldn’t have been close, but a win’s a win. The Yankees are 44-41 with tonight’s 5-4 victory over the Mariners in Seattle. It’s the team’s third consecutive win, and tomorrow, they can complete the series sweep.

The Yanks tallied all five runs in the first two innings against Yusei Kikuchi, only to go quietly the rest of the night. Early runs were just what the doctor ordered with a spot starter in Nick Nelson tonight, although the Yanks were going to need a lot of offense considering how scheduled starter Domingo Germán (scratched because of a root canal) has pitched of late. Especially when Nelson couldn’t complete the first inning and was dreadful. But thankfully, the unheralded Luis Cessa saved the day in long relief even as the Yankees’ offense cooled off.

Germán did get into this one later, only to make it interesting by allowing a three-run homer, but Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green slammed the door to preserve the lead and win. Here are the takeaways:

Game 81: The season is half over, and it’s not all fine

Welp. The win probability graph says it all. This one was scoreless through 4 before things unraveled in the 5th. The Yankees were being no-hit through 5 against Taijuan Walker on a day where Jordan Montgomery couldn’t complete 5 innings and the bullpen turned this one into a laugher. So much for responding back after Wednesday night/Thursday morning’s debacle. To the takeaways:

Judge’s June Power Swoon

Yankees at Orioles 7/10/18

Throughout the 2021 season, Aaron Judge has been the unquestioned MVP of the Yankees from the offensive side of things. However, June has not been kind to the resident right fielder. This month, he’s hitting .241/.333/.392. The gap in BA/OBP shows us he’s still taking his walks, but considering he hit .300/.407/.556 from April through May, that’s a big step back, especially in the power department.

His ISO works out to just .151, paltry for Judge even if we wish Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, and DJ LeMahieu could rack up an ISO that high. But Judge isn’t those guys; he’s better and way more powerful. So what’s up?

To start, he’s just not hitting the ball as hard as often. While he’s actually increased his hard hit percentage against breaking balls–68.4% in June–from April (50) and May (52), it’s gone down on both fastballs and offspeed pitches:

The drops on hard hit percentage are fairly drastic, dropping about 14 points against fastballs and about 30% against offspeed pitches. Predictably, this has led to a drop in average exit velocity against both pitch types, though the drop against fastballs still leaves him at 96 MPH. Against offspeed pitches, though, the number is just below 85 MPH, which is weak for anyone, let alone Aaron Judge.

Then there’s the thing that seems to have plagued Yankee power hitters all year: too many ground balls:

He’s had big jumps in grounders against offspeed and breaking pitches, which, if you’re a pitcher, is the point of those pitches. But given that Judge is a hitter, that’s a problem. As I wrote this sentence, Randy fired off this tweet:

What timing!

To drive this point home, let’s take a look at a heat map style spray chart for Judge’s June:

That’s a lot of red on the left side of the infield, even more so when you consider the following zone profile:

A lot of pitches down and away and a lot of grounders to the left side. That would seem to indicate, along with the decreased hard hit percentages and the increased grounder percentages, that Judge is pulling off balls down and away, as well as topping them/other pitches. All of that spells a lack of power.

There’s no way Aaron Judge is going to keep hitting to a .151 ISO, especially when his overall batted ball numbers are still very strong. His swing and whiff data, by the way, is fairly stable throughout the year, so that’s not at play here. This is a contact issue, a quality of contact issue to be more specific. It’s not going to be long, I imagine, before Judge corrects this and rounds back into his normal, powerful form.

Game 74: It’s Exactly What You Want

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Now that’s more like it! After last night’s crazy walk-off win, today was exactly what you want to see the Yankees do against the Royals with a nice, calm, and easy victory with great pitching and hitting. The Kraken hit a huge 3-run homerun in the 6th to put this one out of reach, giving the Yankees a 8-1 victory behind Jameson Taillon’s best start in pinstripes. This moves the Yankees to 40-34 on the year, and just 4 back on the Red Sox who play the Rays later tonight. It’s their 3rd straight series win and they have won 7 of their last 9. To the takeaways:

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