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Thoughts on the Yankee Letter, DJLM, Cole, and Gallo

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Programming note: Today’s chat has been moved to tomorrow afternoon during the game against the Orioles.

With last night’s 12-8 victory over Baltimore, the Yankees are now 11-6 and a half game behind Toronto in the AL East. The Bombers also have the AL’s second best run differential (+18), only topped by the Mariners (!?). Things are starting to roll for the Yanks: the offense has awoken and the pitching staff continues to impress.

While we wait for tonight’s affair against the O’s, I have a few thoughts to share. Most of my thoughts relate to the 2022 team, but first, I share my reaction to the unsealing of the infamous “Yankee Letter”. Let’s get to it.

Reviewing the Yankees’ 2022 Projections: Steamer

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Earlier this month, I broke down the Yankees’ 2022 ZiPS projections which are published at FanGraphs. Also on display at FG is Steamer, another projection system that I’ll take a look at today. And once Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA is published, I’ll get to that one as well.

On the whole, Steamer projects the Yankees to accumulate roughly +49 WAR. That’s three more than ZiPS and translates to a high-90s win ballclub as presently constituted. Granted, the process of adding up the WAR is often foolhardy, but it serves as a reminder that the Yankees should still be very good in 2022. Now, to the individual player projections:

Gerrit Cole and the sticky stuff crackdown [2021 Season Review]

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On June 9th, Gerrit Cole tossed six innings of two-run ball against the Twins. He ended the day with a 2.31 ERA through his 13 starts of the season. Whether he knew it was coming or not, it was the last day the Yankees’ ace was able to utilize whatever grip enhancers he had enjoyed since his days with the Astros. In turn, a narrative was born.

Never mind that Cole pitched brilliantly for most of the season post enforcement and before he hurt his hamstring. A few ugly starts, along with a poor Wild Card game performance, left a bad taste in many folks’ mouths. Concern was understandable given his emergence with the apparent aid of sticky stuff, but there was a collective narrow mindedness about it too.

All told, the righty finished the season with a 3.23 ERA in 181.1 innings and was the runner up to Robbie Ray in the AL Cy Young Award voting. By no means was this Cole’s best work — I think he’d admit that — but it was a very good year even with a few bumps in the road.

Thoughts on clubhouse leaks and offseason needs

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With Houston’s 7-2 victory over Atlanta in Game 2 last night, the World Series is level at 1-1. I was hoping Atlanta would win, and not because it’s the Astros. Rather, because it would be fun to remind everyone what happened the last time they were up 2-0 in the Fall Classic and headed home for Games 3 through 5.

Ah, yes, that’s the stuff. But hey, at least we can remind everyone that the last time there were World Series games in the state of Georgia (1999), the Yankees also took care of business.

Anyway, I’ve come around to accepting the possibility of the Astros winning the title this year. Obviously, it was never my first choice coming into October, but I’ll be able to be happy for Dusty Baker if his club pulls this off. He absolutely deserves a ring with his body of work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m openly rooting for the Astros, but the world won’t end if they do win it all.

So, with that, allow me to share some of my Yankees-related thoughts. A lot of this is going to be about a certain article that you presumably read (or read snippets of) this week, so brace yourselves. I’m not going to link to it here, but if you really want to look for it, it’s not hard to find.

Wild Card Game: It’s all over

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The Yankees’ season is over. Boston topped the Yankees 6-1 in the Wild Card Game at Fenway Park, postponing the Bombers’ World Series hopes to 2022. It wasn’t much of a contest tonight, either. The Red Sox jumped Gerrit Cole early and the Yankees’ offense had no answers. Boston will now head to Tampa to play the Rays in the ALDS.

There’s plenty of blame to spread on 2021 Yankees, but tonight’s loss epitomized so much of what went wrong for this year’s club. The offense sputtered. The manager made questionable decisions. Fundamentals were lacking. So it goes.

We’re going to transition to our offseason coverage in the coming weeks, but there’s still some time to reflect upon the 2021 club. The playoffs have just begun, so the front office won’t be making roster moves anytime soon. With that, let’s get to the takeaways from tonight’s game:

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