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Let’s do a deep dive on the Yankees’ horrible visit to Queens — how concerned should they be?

June 28th, 2024

The Yankees were, in the words on manager Aaron Boone, “kicked in the teeth” at Citi Field this week. Here’s a look at a few key elements, with reporting and analysis on how concerned the team should be.

Gerrit Cole will probably be okay

I’ll admit, when the scoreboard flashed 91.5 mph to measure a Gerrit Cole fastball to Mark Vientos in the second inning Tuesday, the first thought was that Cole was injured. But in talking to Cole afterward it seemed more likely that he was on track toward regaining his form.

Cole is certain that his arm is healthy, and he attributed his struggles against the Mets to various forms of rust. The drop in velocity — which, he was right to note, occurred on a night when he also touched 99 mph for the first time this year — was more the result of an unsuccessful effort to find the balance between velocity and command.

For all his ability to throw gas, Cole’s greatness derives as much from his planning and precision. He has said in the past that the best place for a 100 mph pitch is his back pocket. On Tuesday, he was not able to command the high-velo stuff, so he dialed it back — but too much.

Vientos’ homer on that slow fastball also highlighted another area of rust: Cole’s typically fruitful partnership with platinum glove catcher Jose Trevino. Last year, Cole credited Trevino for significant contributions to his Cy Young performance. But like any collaboration, they need a bit of time to fine tune it after a long break from one another.

Case in point: They knew that Vientos has a significant weakness against sliders and curveballs (.217 expected batting average this season against breaking pitches), but opted instead to throw him a subpar fastball. When Cole and Trevino are locked in together, they would have made a better decision and would have stood a far better chance of getting Vientos out.

Moreover, Cole is working his way back toward full endurance — he also said on Tuesday that he doesn’t feel quite ready to sit 96-97 mph for an entire outing — but a deep dive into the quality of his pitches Tuesday showed continued progression, he said. He also told me that he was not worried at all about how his elbow would handle snapping off hard sliders (I asked because he threw more cutters than sliders Tuesday).

I’ve been covering Cole long enough to know when he is worried and frustrated, and when he is confident. Right now, it’s definitely the latter.

Luis Gil … not so sure

Boone is already tired of answering questions about Gil’s arm health and potential fatigue, but did admit on Wednesday night that it was fair to ask. The Yankees and Gil are downplaying concerns that subtle changes in Gil’s delivery Wednesday, which resulted in a diminishment of his stuff, had anything to do with tiredness.

“No, no, no,” Gil said, when asked if his arm felt tired.

The Yankees are monitoring Gil’s health and endurance after he pitched just four innings last year upon returning from Tommy John surgery. Despite two straight outings in which opponents rocked the erstwhile Cy Young candidate, the team says that his arm isn’t a concern.

It’s a poorly kept secret around the team that the Yankees are eyeing Gil as a candidate to become a potential power reliever in the postseason. This is a type of pitcher that they badly need (by the way, the Yankees had a preliminary check-in with Oakland about closer Mason Miller, according to a source, but that was a while ago and talks haven’t progressed; it remains hard to see Brian Cashman paying an astronomical price for a reliever).

Therefore, returning Gil to effectiveness, and keeping him healthy, is important in two ways for the Yanks: To help stabilize the rotation now, and to build the October-ready bullpen that they don’t currently have.

All they can do is monitor Gil and hope that he continues to report good health while working to improve his results.

Let’s do a deep dive on the Yankees’ horrible visit to Queens — how concerned should they be?

The offense is too troubled to return to form immediately

As the Yankees were cruising to an 8-3 win over Atlanta on Saturday, Trent Grisham popped out of the dugout to pinch-hit for Giancarlo Stanton. This turned into a significant moment in the Yankees’ rough month, and resulted in one of the best teams in baseball ending up with J.D. Davis as its cleanup hitter in a Subway Series game that it really, really wanted to win.

The Yankees were designed to have Stanton and Anthony Rizzo as powerful righty/lefty bats in the middle of the lineup. Just as Rizzo was finally starting to hit the ball with authority, he broke his arm. Soon after, Stanton, a strong Comeback Player of the Year candidate, strained his hamstring.

Combine that with Gleyber Torres’ weird struggles that led to a benching, and DJ LeMahieu’s complete lack of extra base hits this season (he took better swings this week, but still), and the Yankees are suddenly the kind of team that can load the bases in the first inning on consecutive nights, but lack the lineup length to drive any of the runners in.

The problem is, Boone has no choice but to write these flawed lineups every night, for now. The malaise at Citi Field wasn’t so much a funk, but a function of the currently available personnel.

Aaron Judge

Hits ball far. A lot. Even when everything else is bad.

Ben Rice ‘looks like he’s been here forever’

One other positive for the Yankee offense is the quality and maturity of rookie Ben Rice’s at-bats. As one scout puts it, Rice “looks like he’s been here forever.”

A lifelong catcher, Rice has also looked athletic at first base, moving very well on reaction plays. Aspects of the position that require more experience, like tracking foul popups to the railing and some exact mechanics of positioning and pickoff plays, remain works-in-progress. But he has acquitted himself well for a newbie.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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