Just when the New York Yankees’ $153-million man looked worthless, he turned it on right when the team needed a hot-streak the most.
It was just last month when it looked like there was a possibility that Jacoby Ellsbury would not make the New York Yankees’ postseason roster. The 34-year-old outfielder was only hitting .237/.320/.364 (.684 OPS) through August 25 and he had hit .180/.293/.290 in 37 games since July 1.
Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier were both working their way into a load of playing time when they were healthy, making Ellsbury look like the odd man out. However, the two were not able to stay healthy or they struggled.
Frazier went down with an oblique injury on August 9, right before Hicks was due to come back from his own oblique injury. Hicks came back August 10, as he managed a slash line of .217/.302/.361 (.664 OPS) in 20 games in the month of August. Hicks went down with another injury September 2, but the Yankees were in good hands.
Ellsbury was starting to get hot. Over his last seven games (Aug. 26- Sept. 2), Ellsbury posted a slash line of .333/.333/.667 (1.000 OPS) with one home run, two doubles, one triple, five runs scored and six runs batted in. In 21 games since August 26, Ellsbury has had nine extra-base hits (seven double, one triple, one home run), going 25-for-65 (.385) with 12 runs batted in and a 9/10 K/BB ratio.
This past Sunday, Ellsbury wasn’t in the lineup. For the first time in a while, people were actually worried, not thrilled, that he was not in the lineup. However, manager Joe Girardi explained to reporters that he just did not “want to wear him down physically where his bat and his legs are not alive,” according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.
Over the final two weeks of the season, Ellsbury is going to be a vital part of the Yankees’ chase of not only the postseason but the Boston Red Sox at the top of the American League East. As of today, New York sits just three games back of Boston, and the teams do not play one another again the rest of the season.
The last time the Yankees made the postseason, it was as an AL Wild Card member and they played the Houston Astros in 2015. They faced off against left-hander Dallas Keuchel. The Yankees chose to keep Ellsbury out of the lineup. The man that the Yankees had given $153 million to was out of the lineup in their biggest game of the season, because he wasn’t good enough to be in it. New York loss and their season ended.
The Yankees are looking to avoid that fate this season, especially with their chase for the division title with the Red Sox. Ellsbury has gone from an afterthought in August to be one of the most important members of a team that’s trying to win its first game in the postseason since 2012.
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When Ellsbury came back from his one-month stay on the disabled list due to another concussion, he struggled mightily. It now appears that he’s overcome those struggles and that he’s gotten back to his old ways that made the Yankees sign him away from their rival Boston Red Sox.
Since their August 26 game against the Seattle Mariners, where it seemed that Ellsbury somehow just flipped a switch, the Yankees have a record of 13-5. Since getting outplayed and swept by the Cleveland Indians during the team’s historic winning streak, the Yankees haven’t lost a single series.
“He’s just played extremely well,” Joe Girardi told Danny Knobler of Bleacher Report. “Jacoby’s been a big part of us winning [five] series in a row, the way he’s played. He’s going to continue to play.”
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For a guy that was told by everyone that he wasn’t wanted in New York, he really kept a positive mindset that allowed him to succeed in one of the toughest markets in the country, as Girardi would continuously praise him for being ready to play.