5 Yankees who unquestionably need to be better in the month of May

New York Yankees v Milwaukee Brewers
New York Yankees v Milwaukee Brewers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The New York Yankees finished the month of April with a respectable 19-12 record. It absolutely could have been worse, so for those of us complaining right now, it's perhaps time to take a chill pill. We're one month into the season and there's still an opportunity for the roster to improve with players on the mend and the trade deadline a few months away.

But what the team can't afford is key contributors having their April slumps/downturns continue for much longer. Think about it. One-sixth of the season is in the books already. There's plenty of time to go, but for players who don't exactly have a lengthy track record of bouncing back, it's important to get in a rhythm as soon as possible.

The lone exclusion from this list that might seem egregious is Aaron Judge. He's largely been bad to start 2024, but he's a perennial MVP candidate, so it'd perhaps be irresponsible to worry more than we should about him.

But for these others? The feeling's absolutely legitimate.

5 Yankees who need to be better in the month of May

Austin Wells

Wells is only on here because of the bad luck that has struck him in the early going. He homered and singled on Tuesday night, which is hopefully a sign of things to come, but the Yankees need more. He was supposed to be an electric offensive piece at the bottom of the lineup.

The importance of Wells finding his footing is considerable because he's a young player with just over 140 career at-bats. He's still a malleable mind, too, and we can't have him mired in a prolonged offensive slump. The lasting effects of that could be detrimental.

Oswaldo Cabrera

In some ways, Cabrera was a savior in the month of April. But his defense has slipped (four errors at third base) and his offense quickly cratered. He's batting just .258 with a .690 OPS after a torrid start. Truth be told ... he's been bad for the last three weeks, during which he's hitting .225 with a .564 OPS.

All the Yankees need from Cabrera is reliable defense and some decent at-bats. From time to time, it feels like he's trying to do too much at the plate. He has just 11 hits and two walks in his last 14 games. With all the protection he has in this star-studded lineup, he needs to be somewhere in between that poor production and his insane start to the campaign. As for the defense? Just needs to be cleaned up a bit.

Caleb Ferguson

The Yankees acquired Ferguson with the expectation that he'd be able to handle some high-leverage situations as a key lefty reliever. For one, the Yankees have abused that expectation and have used him in far too many of those situations.

On the other hand ... Ferguson needs to be better. One of the more important relievers in the bullpen cannot have a 4.50 ERA and 4.5 BB/9. It's just not acceptable. Ferguson has settled into his pitching career with a reasonable resume, so he should be pitching near his 2023 totals with the LA Dodgers (3.43 ERA, 3.34 FIP and 70 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings). He can't be faltering in every tight game he's called upon to pitch in.

Anthony Volpe

This is another player we hate to come down on but ... come on. The moment the Yankees moved him to the leadoff spot in the lineup, fans knew it was all doomed. And they were right. Self-fulfilling prophecy, we suppose.

Over the last two weeks, Volpe is hitting .164 with a .500 OPS and has struck out 16 times. Manager Aaron Boone said he's not going to move him out of the leadoff spot after a small sample size of struggles but ... what about a large sample size of struggles? This felt like a knee-jerk decision solely because the Yankees didn't have a prototypical leadoff man, and the Yankees are paying for it now.

On top of that, Volpe, despite what the advanced metrics say, has been very flawed defensively. He's made some incredible plays, yes, but he's also made four errors and a number of concerning throws to first base. It all needs to be better. He's young and still has room for improvement, but we've seen the potential. It needs to be more consistent, because it'd be a nightmare if he turned into the classic boom-or-bust Yankees player -- something that has plagued this team for years.

Gleyber Torres

Gleyber finished the month strong with three multi-hit games over his last four to ... raise his line to a weak .225/.305/.263. He's not driving the ball. His swing looks bad, plain and simple. It's not level, it's off-balanced, and the timing arguably couldn't be worse.

He's on pace to come close to his career-worst strikeout percentage. And would you be surprised if we told you his defense hasn't been great? He's only been charged with four errors this season, which is still too many, but it feels like it's been far more with various misplays and odd decision making.

Torres is in a contract year. The Yankees thought he'd respond positively to that, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. They might've made the wrong bet, and hopefully they'll address that if the time comes closer to the trade deadline.

But this team will only be as dominant as it can be with Torres' offense lengthening this supposed dangerous lineup. And this team will only be as disciplined as Torres will be on the defensive side of the ball. He's a seven-year MLB veteran. We can't believe we're even having this conversation, but here we are.