While we’ve made mention of it before but the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde nature of the 2018 New York Yankees must be brought up yet again. Over the last two nights in South Florida, the Yankees displayed what has plagued them all season long…inconsistency. But the Yankees must flip the switch if they have any chance in October.
The Yankees are in an extremely crucial point in the season. As we have also covered previously, the Yankees remain mathematically in the hunt for the AL East Division crown. Although not close to catching the Boston Red Sox. They also have a decreasing lead in the AL Wildcard race as well. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the Yankees find themselves out of contention.
Dr.Jekyll- The Good
The New York Yankees are a good baseball team in 2018. They are 33 games over the .500 mark. So by no means are they a team that can be taken lightly in a series of any length. They possess one of, if not, the best bullpens in Major League Baseball. They also have an offense that can strike at any time.
On top of that, the Yankees have two potential top Rookie of the Year candidates in Miguel Andújar and Gleyber Torres. The emergence of these two men made a player like Brandon Drury expendable. And relegated veteran player Neil Walker to a bench role. These factors are a huge part of why the Yankees have the second best record in the Major Leagues at 79-47.
Mr. Hyde- The Bad
However, the Yanks have seemingly overtaxed their bullpen thus far. And because of that many relievers are not quite as effective as earlier in the season.
If the Yankees are going to have any chance at succeeding in October, they are going to need more length out of their starters. Much like the lack of consistent length from the starting rotation the Bronx Bombers have been more like the Bronx Blunders. Over the course of a long Major League season, all teams will face offensive woes. but seemingly for the Bombers, they have been unable to consistently hit with runners in scoring position. This leaves the team with the unenviable task of always trying to hit home runs. And while this team has some serious firepower, waiting for home runs is an extremely unreliable method for scoring runs.
No Sugar Coating- The Ugly
In most projections and prognostications the Yankees will make the playoffs (at least the AL Wildcard game.) However, there stands to be a reach test if the Yanks can not start playing better immediately. The Yanks find themselves a full nine games back, once again, from the Red Sox. But also on three and a half games up on the second AL WIldcard team (which is currently the Oakland A’s.) There is a reasonable chance that the Yankees could play themselves right out of a playoff spot. Very easy indeed if they keep dropping games like they did last night to the Miami Marlins. A 9-3 loss to a team whose run differential is minus 168, and 3-7 over their last 10 games is unacceptable.
Mismanagement of the players on this team has been a huge part of what has happened to this team. Misusing or outright not using relievers and position players based on “predetermined days off” is not a sound management technique. Yes, players need days off, yes players are more effective if they play 150 instead of 162 games. Long gone are the days of Cal Ripken Jr breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak. However, when a player has the hot hand logic dictate you ride with the hot hand.
Likewise, a player who is the heartbeat of a clubhouse makes a real difference. I have not played Major League Baseball but I understand the dynamics of playing together on a team. Certain intangibles cannot be measured by the numbers. I myself am someone who likes the numbers. I study and look at the advanced metrics of the game often. But having played on nothing more than a men’s slowpitch softball team, I understand there are certain guys that even if they aren’t the best players they hold a special place on the team. When Ronald Torreyes was sent down to Triple-A this team lost its heart. And although he is back now, the club went lifeless for such a long time it is hard to turn it back on.
With the 20 year celebration of the greatest team to ever play the 1998 Yankees, there has been a story that has been told often. As the story gets told the 98 Yanks had the AL East Division locked up long before season’s end. And on route to their 114 regular season wins, the team began to struggle in September. They would lose games they should have won, and just weren’t playing the kind of baseball they had played all season. It was at that point that then Yankee manager Joe Torre called a meeting. Torre would go on to they the club (paraphrasing) to pick it up and start playing like the ballclub they truly are. Because once the playoffs began, they wouldn’t be able to just magically flip a switch and become that dominant team again. Following the meeting, the Yanks began getting back to their winning ways. And ultimately won the World Series.
If the 2018 New York Yankees are looking to follow suit of their predecessors of twenty years prior, they must start playing like the team that had a stretch where they won 17 of 18 during late April and early May. If these Bronx Bombers are going to have a chance in the postseason, they are going to need to listen to the story of Joe Torre and turn it on. This team can ill afford to keep dropping games to subpar teams. The goal for the New York Yankees has been the same since 1973 and that is to win the World Series. So it is time to flip the switch Yankees.