6. Isiah Kiner-Falefa vs. The Offseason’s Shortstops…
Let’s get this out of the way: Isiah Kiner-Falefa has only been “exactly what this team needs” because he’s been hitting. “Putting bat to ball” and continually popping out to short is no way to go through life.
Kiner-Falefa, on the other hand, has shaken off his early struggles to play rock-solid defense and electrify the offense from the bottom of the order, turning a black hole into the Northern Lights (Kyle Higashioka has still been, uh, really bad). Through Sunday, Kiner-Falefa is hitting .303 with 20 hits and a 114 OPS+. Even those with the highest expectations for IKF likely didn’t expect he’d ever be a “league-average” bat due to his powerless nature, let alone 14 points above it.
Trevor Story? Thanks for asking; he’s at a 76 OPS+ and his Statcast page is covered in icy blue garbage. Marcus Semien? An OPS+ of 30. 30! Corey Seager? OK, he’s great. 122. But 10 years?
Carlos Correa? Who cares? If they want him, they can add him next offseason. So far, the Yankees have added a change-of-pace in IKF who also happens to be a winning ballplayer.
5. Gerrit Cole Has Chosen Jose Trevino
Like after any bad breakup, fans should be looking for signs of trouble in the Yankee dugout between Gerrit Cole and Kyle Higashioka. Perhaps Cole thought Higgy would still call after, but that PitchCom’s not ringing.
After two years of “Cole MUST Be Caught By His Childhood Friend” discourse, perhaps the real story is just … Gary Sánchez was that bad.
Cole started the season as lost as he’s ever been in pinstripes, putting up the ugliest outing of his tenure in the cold weather in Detroit. Since then, he’s thrown 12.2 innings with Jose Trevino behind the plate, allowed zero runs, walked three, and struck out 15.
The Yankees’ ace is a bit more finicky than we would’ve liked, but … you find some change that helps, however small, and you stick with it. Cole might not be “ready to declare” he has a new personal catcher, but that won’t stop us from doing so.
4. Clarke Schmidt Had to Go Down, But…
Clarke Schmidt was an excellent middle-innings bailout artist for the 2022 April Yankees. Clarke Schmidt is also still a top prospect in the organization, and someone who could benefit from consistent outings every fifth day at the Triple-A level. He still has much to learn.
When Schmidt was demoted on Sunday afternoon — following another excellent outing and cheapie win, by the way — it was a necessary move as the roster limit hit. It did not feel fantastic, especially as “No Options Luetge” struggled with his command yet again, but Schmidt racking up innings in the minors is more valuable to his future than through 8.1 innings across all of April, even with 8 whiffs and a 1.08 ERA/0.96 WHIP attached.
Somehow, Schmidt posted a 2-2 record in those 8.1 innings, a hilarious stat he can take down with him to the minors on a fact-finding mission. Hate to see you go, but Schmidt can depart with his head held high. He did nothing wrong.