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Yankees Hot Corner – What the hell just happened?

The New York Yankees have a .500 record, losing three of their last four to the Baltimore Orioles to finish this week at 5-5.  However, in Yankees country it feels like the sky is falling and things have never been worse.  Calm down Yankee fans, it’s a 162 game season not 16.

There are some major concerns that need to be fixed before it’s too late, and while the Yankees aren’t in a deep hole at all, this upcoming series against the rival Boston Red Sox is paramount.

Giancarlo Stanton has been terrible

There’s no other way to put it.  Giancarlo Stanton has been absolutely atrocious so far in his Yankee tenure.  Things looked to be getting off to a great start when he hit a moon shot in his first at bat in Toronto, but he’s been striking out at a historic pace and just doesn’t look comfortable in the pinstripes yet.

Let’s put it this way;  Giancarlo Stanton has struck out in almost half his at bats.  He has legitimately struck out 20 times in 42 at bats.  He is the first player in MLB HISTORY (non dead ball era) to strike out five or more times and be hitless twice in a season.  He’s done this within the first month of the year, so it’s an even worse look.  No one knows what’s wrong with Stanton considering he’s never struck out more than 200 times in a season and his career high is 173 times in 2015.

Either way, things need to change and fast.

Brandon Drury, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, and Jacoby Ellsbury are all sidelined currently and the bottom half of the Yankees lineup isn’t nearly as potent as it was just weeks ago.  The big guys in the middle of the lineup have yet to produce, and the combination of Aaron Judge and Stanton have been a black hole so far.  Stanton needs to learn how to hit again and it needs to come soon.

Extra innings have not treated the Yankees well

The Yankees lost two absolute heartbreakers in extra innings over the weekend.  The first was on Friday night when the Yankees went 14 innings strong and wound up losing on a grand slam by Pedro Alvarez.  It was a slaughtering during the game, as the Yankees lost both C.C. Sabathia and Gary Sanchez to injuries and left both the bench and bullpen completely depleted.

Judge robbed Caleb Joseph of a home run in the 13th inning and it looked like it was meant to be for the Yankees.  Unfortunately, Alvarez took advantage of a hanging slider from Jonathan Holder and made no mistakes.  Holder was in trouble from the start and was wild throughout.  The Yankees had a chance in the 11th to win the game but Didi Gregorius was caught trying to steal home after a wild pitch by Mychal Givens.  I’m not really sure how that wasn’t interference at the plate but that’s besides the point, they should have won.

Sunday’s debacle was much more than just bad luck.  Jordan Montgomery was cruising until the third inning where he started to get in trouble.  After the second it was 5-1, then 5-2, then in the fifth he gave up a two run homer to Danny Valencia to make it 5-4.  He only lasted 4 1/3 innings and had 86 pitches.  Newly recalled Domingo German pitched well in the 2 2/3 innings, but could not keep the Orioles off the board.  The Orioles wound up taking a 7-6 lead late.  The Yankees tied it late with an Austin Romine single but this game again went to extras.  Adam Warren gave up a run in the 12th and the Yankees were PRIMED for a walk-off win in the bottom of the inning.  Brad Brach was wild as ever, loading up the bases with zero outs.  Judge unfortunately hit into the well-known 1-2-5 double play and Stanton later struck out to end the game and walk off with a chorus of boos.  It was one of the worst chokes I’ve ever seen from a Yankees team and it’s only April 9.

Stranding runners on base

I can’t tell you the statistics over the past few games, but let’s just say that the Yankees have been HISTORICALLY bad at closing out games and getting men on base home.  The Yankees stranded 31 baserunners on Sunday alone and Stanton was responsible for nine of those runners.  This team has had the same issues for a few years, and they’ve never seemed to consistently be able to get runners home.  I’m not sure if it’s a hitting issue, a lack of a clutch gene, or just pure bad luck.  For example, Judge had to hit a ball right to the pitcher in order for him to ground into a double play, which is just a sign from the baseball Gods that this isn’t going to be an easy season.

What is the cure for this?  Could the return of Aaron Hicks or the spark plug Clint Frazier help?  Do the alarming amount of strikeouts the Yankees have hinder their ability to start rallies?  Could it all just be a bit of bad luck?  It’s hard to say, considering it’s been a very long time since this Yankees’ team has been able to create offense that doesn’t revolve around the long ball.  Just know that they can’t run away from their problems and can’t use the home run to hide all their issues.

Once again, it’s a very long season and the Yankees will be just fine.  It will be a choke job of epic proportions if the Yankees piss this season away and miss the playoffs.  It’s not like they started out 2-8, but a 5-5 start isn’t ideal if they want to compete in a very competitive American League.

This team is still deeply flawed.

The starting pitching has been the lone bright spot surprisingly.  The rest of the team, not so much.  The “best bullpen in baseball history” has been atrocious.  The middle of the lineup strikes out more than I think I’ve ever seen.  The Yankees are constantly putting themselves in bad positions.  However, there’s still plenty of hope because it’s only ten games into the season and there is FAR too much time to go before making any brash predictions.

Aaron Boone has looked more comfortable as each game goes on, and hopefully he can get a feel for how to use his bullpen and starting pitching.

Be hopeful Yankee fans, they’ll be just fine.  Just always have to be on your toes, because baseball is never easy.

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