No one hates the Yankees more than Yankee fans, but the avarice is definitely warranted after the team slid almost all the way back down the mountain against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.
Matt Harvey pitched for the Orioles after allowing 27 hits in 11.1 innings in 2020. He went six one-run frames and dominated.
Deivi Garcia threw four solid innings, battling through trouble to allow just two runs. He was then … yanked after 65 pitches, and Darren O’Day surrendered a run because his pitching hand twitched with runners on.
Aaron Judge made the last out of the eighth inning at third on a single and took a run off the board. This was, top to bottom, as bad as it gets.
Remember when the Yanks began to rocket home runs out of Progressive Field, the bullpen held on, the starting pitching was solid, and the resurgent Bombers took three straight in Cleveland?
Well, either Cleveland is the actual worst team in baseball (possible!) or MLB’s brutally ahead-of-schedule tweet cursed the Yankees into oblivion yet again.
OK, we can *actually* identify the Yankees’ two biggest lineup problems now.
@MLB, how could you do that? Truly.
Now limping again after two straight losses and a true last-place performance in the Charm City, the Yankees have limited time to get right again before this season spirals out of control … for real this time.
Currently, the lineup as a whole is replete with plain-as-day issues.
All it takes is a casual glance down the order to see the type of numbers that would make someone who knew nothing about baseball — say, a Frankenstein or a Dracula — puke.
On top of everything we’ve disliked, though (and believe us, it’s a lot!), two glaring problems stand out that, if uncorrected, will continue to sink the Yankees.
We’re not even referring to Rougned Odor batting cleanup, an error so simplistic a fourth grader could pick it out of a “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” compilation.
No, we’re pinpointing two players, one of whom is miles away from his ceiling and one of whom is uncharacteristically pressing. Fix DJ LeMahieu and deal with Gary Sanchez and this whole thing gets easier.
Bringing back LeMahieu was a necessity this offseason, but we might’ve had second thoughts if you’d told us he was going to immediately regress into the ground ball machine we feared he’d be at 37. Always someone who put the ball on the ground, he’s done it at the most inopportune times possible this season, and his rates are escalating (50.1% to 56.6% to 58.1% thus far in his third season as a Yankee). There’s no justifying the apparent leverage index of his grounders; LeMahieu will roll over the occasional baseball even when he’s right, but New York needs a psychiatrist to get to the bottom of this — and fix all the other early backslides in pinstripes while you’re at it.
And Sanchez? The solution to his continued inability to pull himself all the way out of his rut is simple: Kyle Higashioka now, Austin Wells later. I’m a year beyond the point of being tired of debating this. He’s a net negative at the plate and in the field, he’s posted one good half-season since 2017, and he’s quietly removed all the fun from his game as the years have mounted. I’d love to be wrong, but there’s very little to argue in the other column right now.
Until the Yankees deal with these two core deficiencies — one which makes no sense, and one which makes all the sense in the world — they won’t find their footing.