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Mailbag: DJ LeMahieu’s role, Aaron Boone’s culpability, Ketel Marte at shortstop

When the World Series features the Astros and Braves.

Good morning everyone after another weekend gone by far too quickly. Since Friday, Houston (ugh) eliminated Boston (yay) and Atlanta (ugh) knocked out the Dodgers (yay). Both championship series featured some of the most insufferable teams, didn’t they? So naturally, that results in an insufferable World Series which starts tomorrow in Houston.

Today is mailbag day. We’re going to run these on Mondays rather than Fridays going forward, just so you all know. As a reminder, send your questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com. We’ll pick our favorites for the next edition. Here’s what we have this week:

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The decline of DJ LeMahieu [2021 Season Review]

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No one expected DJ LeMahieu to repeat his 2020 performance in 2021. At the same time, no one expected LeMahieu to go from a 177 wRC+ in 2020 to a 100 wRC+ this season. Regression was coming to some extent, particularly after a shortened 60-game season, but LeMahieu didn’t resemble anything of his former self for the Yankees this year. His downturn was one of the many reasons that the Bronx Bombers didn’t live up to their moniker all season long.

Now, it’s not like LeMahieu had a bad season. A .268/.349/.362 (100 wRC+) batting line, good defense, and 2.4 fWAR is a tick above average as a whole. Yet, that’s not the performance the Yankees anticipated when they re-signed him to a six year, $90 million contract prior to the season. Surely there were a few more seasons in store where he’d fight for the batting title and be one of the top hitters in the league.

It’s possible that this season will prove to be an anomaly. After all, we learned about LeMahieu’s sports hernia, which required surgery, toward the end of the regular season. Time will tell on that front, but for now, let’s take a look at what went wrong for LeMahieu this season.

Thoughts before rubber game with Toronto

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The sun came up again this morning, meaning that the Yankees will play their biggest game of the season yet again tonight. Is everyone having fun yet? Stressed out? Just a little bit of nerves for all of you, I’m sure.

The Yankees magic number sits at three entering tonight’s rubber match against the Blue Jays. If they win out, not only will the Bombers clinch, but they’ll also ensure a home game in the Bronx for the Wild Card game. They could still get that without winning the next four games, of course. Here are the current standings:

Seattle eliminated Oakland last night, so the possibility of a five-way tie is no more. There’s still a chance for some madness with three or four-way ties now, and you can see how things could shake out by reading Jay Jaffe’s piece over at FanGraphs from yesterday. My head’s spinning from reading it, so I won’t even try to summarize. Just take a look for yourself. But before you do that, here are some thoughts entering tonight’s game with Toronto:

Game 156: Sweep, sweep victory

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The Yankees really, really tried to give this one away, but a late-inning rally headlined by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton led the Bombers to a 6-3 win and a dramatic sweep of the Boston Red Sox.  This weekend was everything it needed to be, and the Yankees are now a full game up on the top wild card spot going into another big series against the Toronto Blue Jays.  To the takeaways:

Game 138: Insult and Injury

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The Yankees lost again, but the big story tonight is Gerrit Cole’s health. He exited this one in the fourth due to hamstring tightness, and though it sounds like he and the team may have dodged a bullet, it was a pretty scary sight to see him depart with the trainer.

Healthy Cole or not, the Yankees weren’t going to win this game with one run. The offense sputtered once again in tonight’s 5-1 loss at the hands of the Blue Jays. That 13 game winning streak seems like a distant memory now that the Yankees have lost 8 of 10 and have the Blue Jays breathing down their neck in the standings, huh? There’s still two more games to play against Toronto this week, but first, let’s get to tonight’s takeaways:

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