The Yankees are getting beat by a team equal to but no better than they are. As Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s like deja vu all over again”…
The Yankees aren’t getting beat by the Astros as much as they are beating themselves in the ALCS. What’s worse, the team led by Aaron Boone seems bent on falling into a place where they don’t want to be. I’ll explain, but first…
Bullpen, bullpen, bullpen. It’s all Aaron Boone seems to want to talk about.
That, plus the refrain insisting Gary Sanchez is just one at-bat away from hitting the decisive blow in a game. Or, that Didi Gregorius has been “taking some good cuts.” And Edwin Encarnacion “looked good” in drawing a walk in an at-bat.
Say what? Look, Gerrit Cole was good last night in dismantling the Yankees lineup – but he wasn’t great. It was the Yankees who went 0-6 with runners in scoring position (1-9 in the series) while leaving nine men on base overall.
Game One seems so long ago.
Yankees Suffering From Bullpenitis
But (keeping in mind Mr. Einstein), Boone’s use of his bullpen seems artificial. It’s like Boone has a script to follow come hell or high water robotically.
The strategy was excellent during the regular season when there was always tomorrow, but in the postseason, a manager needs to fly by the seat of his pants.
Consider that the Yankees used five relievers to cover 4.2 innings following the departure of Luis Severino. Only one (Luis Cessa) pitched more than one inning, and that was a mop-up job in the ninth.
It’s almost like Boone moves along from one guy to the next, struggling to find the one reliever who’s going to have a bad night.
Las Vegas will tell you that the odds to find one out of five – or one out of eight as in the game on Sunday – are pretty damn good. Someone is going to give it up.
Of no consolation, the rest of the Yankees bullpen has pitched well.
An Alternate Scenario
I have no business telling Aaron Boone how to manage his team. If he doesn’t win the AL Manager of the Year award, I’ll be the first to cry “foul.” But at the same time, time is of the essence, and it’s Advantage Astros for the game – set – match, at Yankee Stadium no less.
Austin Romine can get a turn in Game Four. Giancarlo Stanton and his brittle body can be put on the IL, with Luke Voit given a chance as the DH, replacing Encarnacion at least for Game 4. This eliminates Stanton for the World Series if the Yankees get there. But really, is he really that much of a loss?
And if the Yankees can manufacture a reason (a team always can), Ottavino can be found to have a sore pinkie or something and moved to the IL. Reducing the bullpen by one allows Boone to replace Ottavino with Tyler Wade, who can make a start over Gregorius.
Both Voit and Wade have been in Tampa, keeping their skills sharp.
Yankees Fans: Feeling A Bit Edgy?
Desperate times demand desperate action. What, you don’t think the Yankees are in a dire situation? All right, I’ll give you that it’s not panic time. But that’s only to insist on saying change is needed, and you have to provide me with that.
And what about this rainout thing? Rain this afternoon, all night and tomorrow are forecasted. This Noreaster is so huge they can’t be wrong.
Will Boone and the Yankees deviate from the script for Game 4 drawn up a week ago calling for Chad Green as the opener and a “Bullpen Game” to follow? Or, will the team unwrap Masahiro Tanaka, who, with the rainout would be on full rest?
I don’t know about you, but I’m edgy. And when I get that way, it’s time for Plan B…