Three times this past weekend against the Red Sox, Yankees rookie Anthony Volpe had a much-needed shot at redemption following a downward-trending month of baseball.
Each time, he ended up frustratingly further away from a cathartic breakout.
It was just one week ago that Volpe was socking a massive insurance home run at Dodger Stadium, a moment fans hoped would lead to the turnaround that had long been foretold for him. Unfortunately, this otherwise-forgettable three-game Red Sox set may have turned into the breaking point for most fans' relationship to Volpe's rookie season.
Down 3-2 and serving as the winning run on Friday night with two down in the ninth, Volpe got ahead of a fastball slightly and missed a game-winning home run off the pole by five feet. He then popped out. With a chance to add on to a one-run lead on Saturday, he strode to the plate. Anything but a double play would've been a fine outcome. Guess what he grounded into? And, on Sunday, a game he wasn't supposed to be playing in, he was inserted for defense and wound up overmatched with the tying run on third in the 10th inning.
From "so close" to "not that!" to "yikes," Volpe turned into the prevailing narrative of a weekend that should've delivered more scorn to Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu, and this still-theoretically-potent lineup's other zeroes. But as we couldn't help Googling "Oswald Peraza what's his deal," a troubling weekend absence further clouded the picture. Peraza didn't play Saturday. He didn't play Sunday. Even if you wanted to see him in the Bronx instead, he wasn't available. So what went wrong? Considering the 7-Day IL at the minor-league level could mean anything from "Overslept" to "Head Fell Off," even an Injured List stint wouldn't have clarified anything.
Luckily, Brendan Kuty answered the top question on nervous fans' lips: Peraza has been dealing with an "illness," meaning he still should be an option moving forward, should the Yankees choose to make a change.
Yankees could turn to Oswald Peraza over Anthony Volpe
I've long been against a Volpe demotion, believing he had very little left to learn at Triple-A that he couldn't also learn under duress at the major league level. This weekend changed that calculus a bit. On Saturday, John Smoltz pointed out the painfully obvious reality that Volpe's hips are currently flying open, allowing his swing to be exploited. On Sunday, ESPN's Eduardo Perez said the same thing. It sounds ridiculous to assume the big-league coaching staff can't fix such a thing, but ... they haven't yet, right? Perhaps Volpe doesn't have much to learn at Triple-A, but if he can get this one fundamental kink worked out at a lower level, without mounds of pressure on every at-bat, that might help.
During the Sox series, it also became clear that there was a possibility he didn't need to learn anything at all for a big-league pause to still be beneficial. How many moments in the spotlight that end in tragedy are too many? Volpe seems headstrong. That's why he was promoted early in the first place. But as one opportunity after another gets away from him, it's only natural to want some time away.
Also, not for nothing, but Aaron Boone decided to sit him on Sunday night for a reason. For a reset. Somehow, he ended up taking the game's most important at-bat anyway. Thanks a ton.
There's no immediate indication that Peraza would be a better fit -- both in the present, and in the long-term -- and there's something innately icky about making him "The Yankees Shortstop" just a few months after anointing Volpe the crown prince. At least Peraza's healthy, though, something that was not clear over the weekend. It's not all a worst-case scenario, at least. Maybe it's time he's promoted to the bigs -- just in time for a rehabbing Carlos Rodón to drill him with a fastball or something.
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