New York trails only the Royals, Tigers, and White Sox for most ejections in the American League (seven total). Were all seven of the ejections warranted? Probably not, but nor is the entirety of any club’s ejection numbers. The subjectivity in regards to umpire ejections will not diminish come postseason.
The optimism and deserved arrogance reigns in Houston. Astros GM Leff Luhnow said this in an interview with Sean Salisbury’s on SportsTalk 790 in Houston on Wednesday:
Top-to-bottom, everything has fallen into place for the Yankees, which is one of a handful of reasons for concern.
From Mike Tauchman to Mike Ford, the next man up attitude has proved strong all season for New York. There are two different meanings of the next man up mentality. The first: Having role players fill the shoes for long periods of time when starters are unable to play (i.e. injuries). The second: Having role players step up in pinch-hitting, spot-start, or late-game defensive situations and performing in primetime (i.e. Barry Zito in 2014 NLCS).
- Yankees: 88-47
- Dodgers: 88-48 (1/2 GB)
- Astros: 87-48 (1 GB)
- Twins: 82-51 (5 GB)
- Braves: 81-54 (7 GB)
The New York front office dug its own grave by sitting back and watching the Astros add pitching depth at the deadline. Bullpen depth is helpful, but the absence of a dominant starter makes it a moot tactic.
In October, it will not matter if the ejection was warranted or not. When Brett Gardner was tossed for banging his bat on the roof in the regular season, fans sat back and laughed at how ridiculous the ejection was — myself included. On the other hand, if Gardner is ejected for banging his bat in Game 7 of the ALCS and his spot in the order comes up later in a pressure situation, the hilarity of the situation will quickly turn to anger and regret.
Since 2017 (including the postseason), the Yankees have a combined 13-15 record when playing the Astros, including a 3-4 record this season. Perhaps the more concerning stat is New York is 4-10 in games played on the road in Houston during that same stretch.
Fielding percentage: 1. Astros (.987), 2. Dodgers (.982), 2. Yankees (.982)
Errors: Astros (61), 2. Dodgers (86), 2. Yankees (86)
1. Rotation issues were never addressed
These are not role players. This is the foundation of the current New York Yankees franchise. The experience the actual role players have received this season will prove beneficial in terms of depth and stepping into clutch situations, but the postseason is built for the stars. San Francisco doesn’t win in 2014 without Madison Bumgarner and Boston likely would not have won last year without a healthy Chris Sale.
The regular season is built for the former, whereas, the postseason is built for the latter. Allow us to demonstrate.
- 668 2/3 IP (23rd
- 141 HR (29th)
- 4.76 ERA (18th)
- 660 SO (14th)
- 258 BAA (15th)
To expect Severino to return to utter dominance after he just threw off a mound for the very first time this year on Aug. 18 is unrealistic.
With an 11-game lead on the Rays in the AL East, nobody is catching the Yanks for the division. Nevertheless, when comparing the Yankees to the other top dogs in the league (the Dodgers and Astros) they have some competition at the top. Runs: 1. Yankees (791), 2. Astros (747), 3. Dodgers (737)
Average: 1. Astros (.276), 2. Yankees (.272), 3. Dodgers (.259)
Extra-base hits: 1. Astros (518), 2. Yankees (506), 3. Dodgers (500)
Strikeouts: 1. Astros (951), 2. Dodgers (1,120), 3. Yankees (1,175)
Starting pitching depth is not only recommended but it is necessary to make a deep postseason run. Every recent World Series champion has featured at least two high-caliber starters: Fighting for players is a must in terms of earning respect, but manager Aaron Boone must find a way to keep his composure in crunch time. Being on an umpiring crew’s good side won’t win any team a title on its own, but it certainly can’t hurt. Being “savages” at the plate does not help anybody if they aren’t in the lineup due to a suspension or ejection.
2. Thin skin is a major weakness in October
This rotation is among the worst in the league and has been all season. Take a peek at where the Yankees’ rotation ranks this season (as of Thursday): The subjectivity of this statement can be worked out when we dive into the statistics. The numbers speak for themselves. (All stats entering play Thursday, Aug. 29.) Winning the World Series is far from a given for any club as we are still nearly two months away from the scheduled Oct. 22 championship start date. The Yankees will be right in the thick of things in regards to competing for the title, but there are still plenty of roadblocks for Aaron Boone’s club. Here are five reasons the Yankees will not be crowned 2019 World Series champions.
3. Next man up works great…in the regular season
New York has been blessed this season with the coming-out-parties from all of Gio Urshela, Tauchman, Ford, and others. What do these players all have in common? They all have very limited postseason experience, if any at all. Urshela and Cameron Maybin are the only players with playoff at-bats, though even those have been very few and far between (combined 19 AB). Playoff experience and star players are absolutely necessary in the postseason, in fact this is where they are most needed.
Ever heard of that old cliche: “To be the best, you have to beat the best?” Well, the Dodgers and Astros are simply better teams in almost every category. Best records in MLB
Starting pitching struggles in New York this season have been well-documented. It is no secret, yet GM Brian Cashman refused to fill the void before the July 31 deadline.
- Giancarlo Stanton (knee): 60-day IL; appeared in total of 8 games this season
- Dellin Betances (lat): 60-day IL; has not appeared in a game this season
- Luis Severino (shoulder/lat): 60-day IL; starting rehab assignment this week
- Aaron Hicks (elbow): 10-day IL; being reevaluated to begin throwing program
- Edwin Encarnacion (wrist): 10-day IL; fractured wrist
- Luke Voit (abdomen): 10-day IL; in midst of rehab assignment
- Didi Gregorius (shoulder): day-to-day; coming off Tommy John surgery
What the New York Yankees have been able to accomplish this season considering their overcrowded list of injured players has been nothing short of spectacular. The Bronx Bombers lead MLB in cumulative days lost on the injured list, yet they remarkably find themselves entering Labor Day weekend with baseball’s best record.
4. Astros and Dodgers are flat-out stronger
Many fans are hopeful Luis Severino can return to his old self as he is expected to to begin a rehab assignment this weekend with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The injuries “Sevy” suffered — rotator cuff inflammation and strained lat — are no minor issues.
“That’s what this team is all about. You talk about the next man up mentality, same thing with a loss or anything. We just bounce back,” outfielder Aaron Judge told the New York Daily News’ Kristie Ackert after yet another come-from-behind victory in Seattle on Wednesday. “We have a lot of faith in this team.”
Team ERA: 1. Dodgers (3.33) 2. Astros (3.68) 3. Yankees (4.42)
Quality starts: 1. Dodgers (74) 1. Astros (74) 3. Yankees (46)
WHIP: 1. Dodgers (1.10), 2. Astros (1.14), 3. Yankees (1.30)
Bullpen ERA: 1. Astros (3.75), 2. Dodgers (3.95), 3. Yankees (3.98)
“Right now we’re half a game behind L.A. for the best record in all of baseball, and I think we are going to pass them. I think we are going to pass the Yankees. I think we are going to pass them because you just think about what we are putting out there every night.”
The other excuse for New York standing pat at the deadline is the team’s dominant bullpen. The pen is indeed superb. However, the strategy of shortening games for starters and relying on bullpen arms has yet to be proven championship-caliber. The Oakland A’s, led by Blake Treinen, Fernando Rodney, Lou Trivino and Jeurys Familia, tried this in 2018 but were sent packing after an AL Wild Card Game throttling to none other than the Yankees.