Once upon a time a beloved Yankee, DJ LeMahieu is toeing the line and pushing fans to the brink with his play in 2023. He got a pass in 2021 and 2022 because of injuries, but to our knowledge he's fully healthy this year and his output is well below average.
His strikeouts have skyrocketed (26.3% rate vs his 14.9% career rate). He's been good for a 0.4 WAR. He's hitting just .236 with a .679 OPS and 88 OPS+. Since Judge went down, he's gone 3-for-19 with zero runs scored and zero RBI. Zero extra-base hits. He got four at-bats during the White Sox series. We wish we knew what was going on, but his play has dramatically suffered since Judge's absence and that's something the Yankees can't afford.
The Yankees' best and most consistent reliever has decided to fall apart over the last week, and if not for Judge it probably would've been much worse. King was the one who gave up the screaming line drive to JD Martinez in LA that forced Judge to make that unbelievable leaping catch at the wall that got him injured.
Had that ball dropped, a run would've scored, the game would've been 5-4 with a runner on second and no outs instead of 5-3 with a runner on second and one out. Since then, King has surrendered three earned runs on three hits and two walks in just 3.1 innings of work, losing the Yankees two games in the process. His meltdown against the White Sox came out of nowhere and his meltdown against the Red Sox was one of the most predictable occurrences in recent Yankees history, as he inexplicably hung a slider to Kiké Hernandez on a 1-2 count and then walked Reese McGuire to begin the eighth inning. How?
Like we said, the Yankees best players disappear whenever the margin for error gets thinner.