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The Post Mortem Yankees Report – Where it all went wrong

Well folks, the Yankees have been eliminated from the playoffs in a 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox.  The loss on Tuesday night marked the second straight series loss for the Yankees against their rivals from Boston.  The Yankees got so close to tying the game in the ninth but came up just short.  Gary Sanchez had the opportunity of a lifetime to walk it off but just missed a meatball by Craig Kimbrel and popped it up to the left-center warning track.

The Yankees season is over and although it’s not a disappointment for other teams, it’s a huge disappointment for the Yankees.  Coming off a season that got them within one game of an American League pennant, anything less than that would have been a failure.  Another year goes by where the Yankees haven’t won a World Series, and another year goes by where there are more questions than answers.

The Yankees ran into a buzzsaw in Boston.  Boston is a very good hitting team, has excellent pitching, and grinds out runs instead of relying on the home run.  The Yankees are a very good team, being that they had 100 wins, but they don’t even sniff the team skills the Red Sox have.  Here are four reasons why the Yankees are packing their bags up and going home;

Alex Cora managed circles around Aaron Boone

Remember just a week ago when Aaron Boone was being lauded as a genius because of the way he managed in the Wild Card game?  Well fast forward to Tuesday and he couldn’t manage himself out of a paper bag.  Alex Cora, who by the way is also a rookie manager, literally took Aaron Boone and spun his head around about one hundred times over.

Boone’s biggest issue throughout the playoffs was that he tried to get too much out of his starting pitching.  He left J.A. Happ in his start against Boston for too long.  He left Luis Severino in for too long then tried to replace him with LANCE LYNN instead of going to his fully rested bullpen.  He tried to get cute by moving around Neil Walker and Brett Gardner, and he had zero feel for any of the games.

On the flip side, Cora pulled all the right strings.  He let Chris Sale do his thing (which is easy to do), crafted his lineup perfectly with a mix of power and speed, and rode the hot catcher in Christian Vazquez, who wound up hitting the series deciding home run in Game 4.  The only semi-controversial thing Cora did, which worked out anyway, was throwing Chris Sale out for the eighth inning to ensure the shaky Red Sox bullpen would not be tested.  He got the Yankees out with ease and built the bridge to the usually reliable Craig Kimbrel.

The infield defense was atrocious

The Yankees gave more outs away in this postseason than most would like to admit.  They nearly let the A’s back into the Wild Card game with a Luke Voit error and Miguel Andujar errant throw.  Miguel Andujar was so unreliable that he didn’t even play in Game 4 despite having the most consistent bat on the team.

The Yankees let the Red Sox run all over them, whether it be errant throws that gave away outs or complete neglect on the base paths.  The Sox were able to squeak out runs because they were pulling hit and runs, were steady on the bases and didn’t get themselves out.  If they wanted to, they could run all day on the Yankees.  Their aggressiveness caused lots of trouble for the Yankees, hence the terrible defense, and led to a series lost for the Bombers.

Can’t rely on the home run

Just as the Red Sox were aggressive on the base paths and grinded out runs any way they could, the Yankees did just about the opposite.  Lazy grounders to second base and strikeouts were a plenty, and the Yankees never really got anything going.  There were plenty of opportunities but the Yankees never capitalized because they were so worried about hitting a home run.

Yes, the Yankees are built around “launch angle” and home runs, but against starting pitching you’re not going to be able to produce runs like that.  Singles, walks, and long pitch counts are the only ways to beat a pitcher like Chris Sale.  Flailing your bat out in hopes of making solid contact is not the way to do it.  Nine times out of ten you’re going to strike out or hit a weak ball back to the pitcher.  The Yankees did essentially that.

The two biggest culprits of this were Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres.  Both came up with men in scoring position in multiple games, and both failed miserably.  With the game on the line TWICE in Game 1, Stanton struck out with the bases loaded.  Torres did the same in Game 1 and grounded into the series clinching out.  You can’t blame him or Andujar as it was their first postseason, but you do need to hold them accountable for not being able to get the job done.

As for Stanton, he is slowly turning into the next A-Rod.  Although they were completely different hitters, both failed miserably in the postseason.  Rodriguez did have success in the ’09 playoffs that eventually led to a World Series, so Stanton may be able to have some success also.  However, for now the jury is still out on whether he can be a clutch performer.

Starting pitching gets nothing done

Probably the biggest reason why the Yankees didn’t make it past the ALDS was the lack of starting pitching throughout the entirety of the playoffs.  Even when they were good, none of the starting pitchers for the Yankees made it through more than five innings.  Some of it may have been by design, as the Yankees have one of the best bullpens in baseball, but it also seemed to show that the Yankees have a glaring weakness.

Between Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, J.A. Happ, and C.C. Sabathia, only Tanaka made it longer than four innings and even then he couldn’t make it past five.  All struggled mightily with command, getting taken advantage of by the Red Sox who were extremely patient in their plate approach.  Severino was laboring in both his starts, Happ looked absolutely horrible in a rare bad start, and C.C. Sabathia couldn’t get through three full innings.

It was about as disappointing a series as possible.  The starters were absolutely horrendous and the Yankees are going to need to do something next season.  Whether it be re-upping Happ, bringing up Justus Sheffield for good, getting Jordan Montgomery back in early or trying to trade for Patrick Corbin, they need to do something.

This was hard to write because this series could have gone so differently had just a few things changed.  However, that’s not how baseball works, so here we are picking up the pieces of yet another disappointing Yankee season.  What’s next?  Well first and foremost, the Red Sox absolutely cannot win the World Series now.  They will be in a dog fight with the Houston Astros, and hopefully Houston comes out on top.  As for the Yankees?  Just move on, stop relying on analytics so much, and load up before the 2019 season.

 

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