The New York Yankees -- once again -- somehow forgot to read the "Building a Roster for Yankee Stadium" manual this offseason. Yes, the best-laid plans of mice and Cashmen sometimes go awry. Yes, the addition of Joey Gallo was meant to fix this specific deficiency, and it didn't fix anything. But still ... it's kind of crazy the Yankees are still as righty-heavy as they are.
And, no, Franchy Cordero probably isn't a permanent solution to this problem (and, even if he is, he should only be a part of the solution).
A typical 2023 Yankees lineup features two dedicated lefty hitters in Cordero and Anthony Rizzo. Switch-hitting Oswaldo Cabrera helps the cause, as does occasional fill-in Willie Calhoun, but by and large, the Yankees remain as righty-heavy as 2021, when they made a midseason pivot to add Gallo and Rizzo and kind of, sort of limp into the Wild Card Game.
Fine. The Yankees have a lot of entrenched right-handed starters. It's not ideal, but ... as long as they can bash, no harm, no foul, right?
The team's offensive struggles, especially without Giancarlo Stanton, have been well-documented. But what's even more disturbing is the fact that this lineup packed with righties can't even hit lefties. You'd think that would be, like, their one thing.
Did righty-heavy Yankees finally figure out how to hit lefties in 2023?
At least ... they couldn't hit lefties until Thursday.
Through Wednesday's action, the right-handed Yankees were getting decimated by left-handers in 2023, which probably explains why the Angels felt secure going with Patrick Sandoval in the rubber game. It also explains why, when Sandoval largely failed (well, one bad inning), they followed him with more lefties in Tucker Davidson and Aaron Loup (with Jimmy Herget, unsuccessfully, tucked in between).
Prior to Thursday's game, the Yankees were hitting .175 in 103 at-bats against left-handers this season. After Thursday? It's still bleak, but they've gotten that up to .202 with a .348 OBP (they took their walks against Sandoval, Davidson and Loup, walking nine times in seven innings.
Thursday could've been a bigger blowout, sure, but Jose Trevino's big hit in the first, as well as tack-on runs against Herget and Loup, helped provide an impressive margin. And who was right in the middle of both rallies, taking a bases-loaded walk in the first and cleaning up DJ LeMahieu's rare mess with a line drive single to score the ninth run? Oswald Peraza, who was installed batting sixth.
Could Peraza be the key here? The Yankees followed our other lineup rules on Thursday, leading off Anthony Volpe (he walked twice during the height of the ballpark shadows) and batting LeMahieu fifth (he lined the insurance double off Herget that allowed us to breathe for a bit). But inserting Peraza moved the slumping Oswaldo Cabrera down to seventh (where he, uh, still slumped), with Trevino following him and Isiah Kiner-Falefa batting ninth. Give IKF his flowers; he put bat on ball with the bases loaded again to break it open late. Something about those bases-loaded situations. He's now hitting .615 with the bases juiced across the past two seasons in the Bronx.
There's no sample size smaller than one game, but there's also no trend more baffling than the righty-coded Yankees coming up small against opposite-side pitchers. Hopefully, the walk-off against lefty Matt Moore broke the curse, and the insertion of Peraza, who hit .252 with a .793 OPS against left-handers at Triple-A last year (superior to his .772 OPS against righties), can lengthen the lineup just enough to make a difference.
Or ... maybe Sandoval walked a village and gave up the rare "big hit" to Trevino, making the Yankees offense look competent for one night only. We'd rather live optimistically for now, though.