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The New York Yankees Are Stuck In a State of Limbo

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Corey Sipkin- NY Post

This past week was a goddamn adventure as the Yankees swept the Mets and then lost two of three once again to Boston. Morale couldn’t have been higher after Thursday’s completed sweep of the Metropolitans, but right now I’m in a state of flux. This team doesn’t have an identity. Despite playing better ball of late, the Yanks have lost ground in the AL East two weeks in a row. The Boston Red Sox are a better team than the Yankees right now. I mean their lineup in better, their rotation is better, and quite frankly their bullpen isn’t as far off from New York’s as we thought. I said this a few weeks ago, but I believe the division race is over and it’s unfortunately time to set sights on securing that first wild card spot and locking up home field. I think that’s the realistic goal at this point in the season with about a month and a half left to go. Let’s map it all out, see who’s actually coming back from injury, and see what we’re cookin with.

Quick Recap of the Weekend

Friday night was Girardi’s fault in my mind. The offense battled back thanks in part to a shortened start from Drew Pomeranz due to back spasms. With a 6-3 lead in the 7th and the way this bullpen has pitched, that should mean game over say good night. Girardi sent Chad Green out to pitch the 7th after a pretty easy 6th from the right hander. After two men had reached base Joe went to Tommy Kahnle with 1st and 2nd and one out. Tommy Kahnle has allowed 50% of his inherited runners to score since joining the Yankees keep in mind. Why he didn’t bring in Robertson or Betances here made me very upset. Kahnle went on to implode and surrender the lead. Later in the game, trailing by one in the bottom of the 8th, Girardi went to Chapman, for whatever reason, who went on to implode as well. I understand Craig Kimbrel is a God, but any closer is capable of blowing a one run lead which one swing of the bat. Matt Holliday showed that a month ago in Boston against Kimbrel himself. But if you’re spottting Kimbrel three runs then you might as well just go home. You just get the feeling ALL OF THE TIME that Girardi has literally no idea how to manage this pen. This game was on him.

Saturday night went a completely different way than anyone thought it would. Tyler Austin jumped on Chris Sale early and sent the crowd into a state of absolute shock.

Runs? Against Chris Sale? What is this malarky? From there on out CC Sabathia pitched like this was a must win game. In his first start off the DL, CC went six strong innings of two run ball which was all we could’ve asked from him given the circumstances. For the second day in a row New York entered the 7th inning with a two+ run lead, only this time Girardi pulled the right levers to get the job done (Warren-Robertson-Betances). Neither Robertson nor Betances have given up runs in the month of August, meanwhile Warren has only surrendered two himself. These three guys, plus Green need to be pitching the most on this team, while Chapman and Kahnle come in when they need a breather. For now, that’s the winning formula.

Sunday was terrible. Sonny Gray ran into pitch count issues early on, when the Sox lineup continued to foul off seemingly every pitch he threw. The Sox jumped out to an early two run lead which would end up being enough to win the game. A combined effort from Porcello-Workman-Reed-Kimbrel held the offense to one measly run (a pesky pole Gardner homer). It was a very deflating loss, especially after such a nice win Saturday night. There are moments where I feel we can beat the Sox, and then losses like Sunday happen that zap the life out of you. It fucking sucks.

Getting Healthier

There’s definitely some optimism on the near horizon. Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to come off the disabled list Tuesday night in Detroit after sitting out the last ten days resting his right shoulder. The Yankees won’t win a goddamn thing this year without Tanaka being the pitcher he used to be. He showed very positive signs of his old self in June and July before complaining of fatigue. You gotta hope these ten days gave him the necessary rest to feel right again. A rotation of Sevy-Gray-Tanaka-CC-Garcia is actually pretty fucking solid as head into late August.

Greg Bird is as close as he can possibly be to returning to the starting lineup. In four games during his rehab in AAA Scranton, Bird has gone 6-14 with four RBIs, including a two homer game on Saturday. You should expect him back possibly as soon as Tuesday, but definitely sometime this week. Starlin Castro said he’s finally feeling 100%, as he’s taking his time rehabbing his re-aggravated hamstring in the minors. I still expect him to be down there a bit longer just so there’s no chance of another injury, but plugging Castro’s bat back into the lineup will be MASSIVE. Getting Tanaka, Castro, and Bird all back will be monumental to this team’s chances at making any kind of run and it looks like all three will be back in the Bronx right around September call-up time, if not earlier.

Aaron Judge’s Struggles Continue

So what do you do with a man so lost at the plate like Aaron Judge? There have been reports surfacing that his shoulder is not right and he’s been limited because of that. He flat-out denied those reports to the media and seemed annoyed at the question. So what do you do? If I were Girardi I would give him the entire week off. No pinch hitting, no DHing, just a full week to get his mind right. You saw his lack of awareness in right field on the sac fly yesterday and it’s obvious he’s a mess upstairs right now. Judge went 1 for 12 this weekend with five more strikeouts and continues to look lost at the dish. If not the week, then give him the Detroit series off and bring him back for Seattle. I don’t necessarily think you should move him down in the order as that will just continue to fuck with him mentally. It’s a tough situation to deal with right now, and there’s a lot of mystery behind what’s going on. Maybe he is hurt, maybe he isn’t? Who fucking knows, but the man needs a few days off regardless.

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Upcoming Schedule

As I just mentioned, the Yankees head to Detroit for a short three game road trip against the Tigers starting tomorrow. They’ll finish up the week back home against the Mariners. Detroit limps into this series losers of 12 of their last 15 games. The following week will be beyond massive with Cleveland coming to the Bronx for three games followed by Boston for four (the final time New York will play both teams in the regular season). After the Tigers series, every team the Yankees play from here on out will be either an AL East team or a team right in the thick of the wild card hunt. Everyone’s gotta get healthy and stay healthy. Currently New York holds a two and half game lead over the Twins for that first wild card spot. The second spot is completely up for grabs and there’s a ton of time left for anything to happen.

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P.S. Keep your eyes open for an announcement for the next Barstool at the Ballpark. The last one was such a success (minus the end of the game) that we have to do it again.