The Yankees 2020 season is suddenly looking all too familiar. Injuries to key players and the arrival of capable replacements – just like last year.
The Yankees lineup that soundly beat the Braves last night minus Aaron Judge (day-to-day) and Giancarlo Stanton (out three to four weeks) had a familiar ring to it reminding of last year when replacements picked up the pieces and the team carried on.
This time it was Clint Frazier stepping up with a 3-4 night that included a run scored and another one driven home. Aaron Boone gave the full confidence treatment to Frazier by inserting him into right field, replacing Judge.
The Gods were merciful, and Frazier handled one chance cleanly. But as always, it’s his magic bat the Yankees have ever noticed and needed.
With the Yankees enjoying their second off-day this week, Boone is hopeful that the medical staff can use the time to provide treatment to loosen up the stiffness he is feeling.
Regardless of Judge’s situation physically when the Red Sox arrive for a weekend series at the Stadium tomorrow, Boone is sure to find playing time for Clint Frazier.
Yankees Minus Team-Wide Contributions
Excepting DJ LeMahieu, who is once again challenging (and leading) the race for the AL Batting Title (.431) and Mike Tauchman (.300), Yankee’s batting averages continue to flirt with the Mendoza Line more often than not.
Gleyber Torres can’t seem to get anything going offensively or defensively. His four errors lead the league among starting shortstops.
And more and more Yankees fans have cause to wonder why in the hell the Yankees let Didi Gregorius flee to the Phillies.
Gary Sanchez continues as a no-show in the Yankees lineup (.104 and striking out in half of his at-bats (25-48), while ordinarily reliable Brett Gardner has only four hits that are not a home run (3).
Yankees Smoke And Mirrors – For How Long?
Still, the Yankees are second in runs scored (Twins are tops) and first in OBP (On-Base Percentage), and third in Home Runs behind the Angels and Twins. So, go figure.
Without saying it directly, Aaron Boone indicates that Torres needs to relax. His unsteadiness in the field is affecting his at-bats. In other words, at the moment, he’s a head case.
Sanchez is an old story that doesn’t bear repeating here. Boone will continue to run him out there, but only because his only option at the moment is 40-year-old Erik Kratz (Kyle Higashioka is out with an injury).
The news is much the same when it comes to the Yankees pitching, and where they rank in the league. They rank ninth in the league in ERA (4.26), while the Rays, Twins, Athletics, and the remarkable Indians (2.63) all sport an ERA under three.
And yet, similar to last year, only one team in the major leagues has more wins than the Yankees (the A’s with thirteen).
But for a team that has set its singular sights on securing that elusive 28th World Championship, there is cause enough to wonder if the organization has everything it will take to carry them through the crap-shoot playoffs.
The Yankees are surviving (we can say thriving, I guess) on less than a team effort. Gerrit Cole (3-0), as expected, has turned in four consecutive stellar starts, and Zack Britton is a perfect six for six in save opportunities, replacing Aroldis Chapman, who is due back soon.
On the hitting side, it’s been all Judge with his nine home runs and 20 RBI, together with LeMahieu’s ongoing assault against pitchers throughout the league.
But the real question is this – are these Yankees, like the Dodgers, a team that runs up wins during the regular season – only to fail when it counts in the postseason – again?
Both teams took their anger and frustration out on the cheating Houston Astros during the offseason.
The only place to look this year with no scapegoats in view, though, is inward. Help may come from the outside (Brian Cashman magic), but the Yankees should not be counting on that development.
Instead, it’s time to buckle-up again, no matter who’s in or out of the lineup posted by Aaron Boone.