The dog days of August are officially upon the Yankees.
Yes, the Mariners are good. But The Bronx Bombers did not acquit themselves well in this series loss. Seattle tagged ace Gerrit Cole for six runs in the first inning on Wednesday after Jameson Taillon continued to struggle Tuesday. Even with an 11-game lead over the Blue Jays in the AL East, the Yankees don’t look exactly like a championship team.
Reinforcements are on the way, though. Frankie Montas is expected to pitch Sunday. The new bullpen arms are already impressing. Andrew Benintendi will get going soon. Plus a day off Thursday provides a chance to reset and refocus ahead of a weekend in St. Louis.
The trade deadline is already helping. Montas hasn’t made his Yankees debut yet, but his longtime Oakland teammate Lou Trivino has already pitched twice and delivered as needed through 1 2/3 perfect innings. Sidearmer Scott Effross also worked around a hit to get two outs and keep Tuesday’s game close.
Outfielder Harrison Bader will also be an exciting addition when healthy after being acquired for popular lefty Jordan Montgomery. The Gold Glove centerfielder has 54 total career outs above average (OAA) and a +37 DRS at his position. He also rarely strikes out, so Bader could see plenty of at-bats next month if Aaron Hicks keeps struggling at the plate.
This lineup misses Giancarlo Stanton. We recently discussed how DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge hitting well should trickle down to the rest of the lineup. Even with Anthony Rizzo starting to get hot again, it’s still blatantly obvious how much the Yankees miss Stanton’s bat. Stanton is currently on the injured list with Achilles tendinitis and could resume baseball activities soon.
Meanwhile, the rest of the lineup needs to find its groove. Josh Donaldson has been streaky all year and Gleyber Torres is 0-for-9 to start August. This has been a common theme for a few years now. One of Judge or Stanton goes down, and the rest of the lineup’s performance usually follows.
It doesn’t matter how much baseball is left. When a potential championship team’s bats go cold in August, it’s hard not to get at least a little concerned.
More pitching questions than answers. It’s hard to feel confident in the Yankees’ rotation even with Montas debuting Sunday. Cole posted a 4.03 ERA in July and his August isn’t off to a good start. Luis Severino is on the 60-day IL and out until September out of what looks more and more like an abundance of precaution. Jameson Taillon hasn’t been right since June and Nestor Cortes will probably have to labor the rest of the way as he keeps logging a career-high in innings. Not to mention, Montgomery’s quiet effectiveness now belongs to the Cardinals.
Montas has a 2.40 career ERA against the AL East, including his new team. If he falters under pressure rather than being fueled by it, manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach Matt Blake might need to get creative.
Rough road ahead? The Yankees are about to go on a nine-game road trip, all against fairly good teams: The Cardinals, Mariners, and Red Sox. St Louis is in the thick of the NL Central race. Seattle just caught New York asleep at the wheel and is better than they seem on paper. Boston, despite being a last-place team, always plays the Yankees hard.