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Gerrit Cole walks off field with head down

Gerrit Cole walks off field with head down

The Yankees were looking good before their trip to Boston. Starting pitchers were giving length, the offense seemed to be heating up at home in the Kansas City Royals series, and signs of a breakout were finally forming.

Then, the Boston Red Sox — leaders of the AL East — killed all that momentum.

They’re clearly not the leaders for nothing after sweeping the Yanks in a three-game set. It was two close games that came before Sunday’s 9-2 blowout that featured Gerrit Cole’s worst start of the season.

So, after seeing this series as well as considering the Yanks haven’t beaten the Red Sox this season, is it justified to say this New York squad is in a dire situation?

The overall dysfunction that’s come from this group when they play the Sox or Tampa Bay Rays is very noticeable. New York is 5-14 combined against these two rivals at the top of the division, and that’s not going to get the job done.

Let’s try to get a clearer view of what needs to change for these Yankees to compete with some of the best teams in the game right now:

Starting Pitching Woes

This is the obvious bugaboo when you look at this club. Outside of Cole – and we’re certainly looking at his Sunday start as an aberration right now – the rotation hasn’t been able to shut teams down consistently.

And that’s not to say the Yanks and their fans should expect that going against some of the best offenses in the league any given night. But when you see Jordan Montgomery, Domingo German, and Jameson Taillon all have an ERA over four (Taillon is the worst at 5.18), it’s a true cause for concern heading toward the MLB trade deadline.

It also doesn’t help the group that Corey Kluber, who owned a 3.04 ERA, can’t be counted on to return any time soon to be their No. 2 guy behind Cole. And with no one like Deivi Garcia or Michael King proving they can hold down a rotation spot, there’s tons of flux at the back end.

Will the Yanks eventually make a trade deadline move to pick up the slack? If GM Brian Cashman continues to have a directive not to go over the luxury tax, it’s hard to see where he can go.

Either way, someone needs to step up after Cole and the team can’t bank on it being someone new.

Why can’t New York score?

On the hitting side of things, nothing much has changed for the Yanks even when it looks like it’s going to.

It’s great to see Gary Sanchez hitting much better this month, with a .296/.375/.676 slash line with seven homers and 16 RBI in 21 games. Consistency from him is all the Yanks wanted to see and they’re getting much better at-bats from him of late. Aaron Judge should also be an All-Star starter with his production this season, and Luke Voit has provided a slight boost with his power after coming off the IL last week.

But again, and we can’t say it enough, there just isn’t much else to write home about when you’re 23rd in runs per game in MLB (3.99) and own a -4.0 run differential after posting a +58.0 last season.

Other offensive stats like batting average (16th), hits per game (17th) and home runs per game (1.30, ninth), aren’t terrible. But when you see that most of the hits are singles — they’re 30th in doubles per game with 1.19 — and RBI per game is 28th at 3.68, it goes to show you that the Yanks just can’t get runners around the bases unless the ball goes over the fence.

Just look at the Sox series for proof. DJ LeMahieu was the only one with RBI hits throughout the series, while smacking a solo homer in the second game on Saturday. Other than Judge’s two-run homer on Sunday, no other Yankee collected an RBI.

That’s a clear problem with this group and it wasn’t supposed to be after watching things unfold the past few seasons. So calling out to Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier among others, it’s time to step up at the plate.

He was untouchable to begin the season. But since Chapman gave up his first earned run against the Minnesota Twins on June 10, it’s been downhill with inconsistent outings that resulted in blown saves.

He didn’t show his face in this Sox series, but his last save opportunity against the Royals saw three hits and two homers to give Kansas City the lead. Luckily, the Yanks saved him with their own clutch hitting.

But what was once a 0.00 ERA has turned to a 2.54 ERA in just a matter of seven outings – he has an 11.81 ERA over his last 5.1 innings thanks to 12 hits and seven earned runs in that span.

When the Yanks can’t blow out teams, they need Chapman at his best. Right now, he isn’t there and that needs to change.


There’s more to highlight with this team, and we could go into specific players’ weaknesses. But bigger picture, it’s worth wondering whether this is simply the Yankees team we can expect for the rest of the season.

Cashman and Aaron Boone have remained confident that the “real” Yanks will show face soon. But just when it looks like it’s about to happen, it doesn’t. When it looks like the cogs are moving in unison, one or two begin to malfunction. And it’s happened all season long.

There’s still the second half that will truly determine where teams stand once October rolls around. But, if no changes are made and the same keeps happening, the Yankees — a preseason favorite to win the World Series – might find themselves out of the postseason race.

They’re in fourth place in the AL East, 6.5 games back of the Red Sox now. So how can we keep saying they’ll turn it around before it’s too late?