While it's only June, the New York Yankees have seemed to experience an unholy amount of turbulence. Injuries and inconsistencies have landed them in AL East’s third spot, 10.5 games behind the juggernaut Tampa Bay Rays.
With the AL West-leading Texas Rangers coming to the Bronx this upcoming weekend for a three-game set, there is no time like the present for the Bombers to earn their pinstripes and grab a series win over one of MLB’s most prolific teams.
That's perhaps one of the few ways this team can turn things around as the absence of Aaron Judge continues to plague the roster in more ways than one.
At the time of this article, the Rangers lead their division with a 45-27 record and are baseball’s best in terms of team batting average, on-base percentage, and runs per game. Players such as Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Adolis García have helped form a lineup that can go toe-to-toe with just about anyone in the sport.
As far as pitching is concerned, Texas’ may boast three of the most undervalued arms. Nathan Evoldi, Martin Perez, and Jon Gray have each been effective this season, and while the club may have lost star ace Jacob deGrom to season-ending Tommy John surgery, the top of their rotation still should not be taken lightly.
The Rangers’ only real weakness is their bullpen. Currently, their ‘pen holds baseball’s ninth-worst ERA. Outside of Will Smith and Josh Sborz, none of their regular relievers have kept their ERA under the 2.00 mark. Players like Dane Dunnings and José Leclerc have had good showings from time to time, but neither has demonstrated the ability to be a “lockdown” kind of talent.
Of course, there are still injuries in play that will keep New York from fully displaying their full potential against a postseason contender. But there are still reasons to believe that this summer matchup could be a telling marker.
Starters such as Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, or Domingo German will have their hands full with a feisty Texas lineup. Additionally, the Yankees’ bullpen will be tested by a lineup that has recorded baseball’s best batting average when runners are in scoring position. Wandy Peralta, Clay Holmes, and the now-struggling Michael King will have to show they can handle a unit that can do damage at the drop of a hat.
As short-handed as New York’s lineup may seem without Aaron Judge, there are still other key bats that should be producing more. Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, Gleyber Torres, and DJ LeMahieu will receive a critical chance to perform well against a foe that has their sights set on October. Even if the pinstripes can't fully crack the Rangers’ starters, they may get a shot at some late-game theatrics against a bullpen that has struggled.
It would be overly zealous to say that the Yanks upcoming series against the Rangers is “season defining,” but a competitive set could certainly answer some lingering questions and reinvigorate a clubhouse that has had to grind its way through the early part of the season.