Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is that unlike last year, the Yankees didn’t spend what wound up a rain-soaked weekend at Busch Stadium getting swept.

The bad news is the Bronx Bombers still lost two of three. Pitchers underperformed. The hitters, despite Aaron Judge’s continued progress, barely showed up. The only saving grace is big lefty Carlos Rodon, at long last, finally makes his Yankees debut Friday.

But not even adding a second ace alongside Gerrit Cole will help the (still) third-place Yankees, who (still) trail first-place Tampa Bay by 9.5 games.

Some takeaways:

Sound the Luis Severino alarm. When Luis Severino allowed 15 earned runs in 15 spring training innings, his eventual shoulder injury was the assumed culprit. The veteran righty then returned to post a 1.59 ERA in his first two starts back. All signs pointed to Severino being healthy.

Since then, he has posted a 8.29 ERA and just doesn’t look himself. His fastball velocity is down, up, down, up again, and wholly inconsistent. Severino allowed nine runs (seven earned) in four innings in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. The Cardinals’ lineup is talented, but not so much that it should easily hang a crooked number on someone who, at his best, has ace-level stuff.

Severino claims he is healthy and will make his next start likely Thursday against Baltimore. It’s also his contract year. He might need to think about accepting the Yankees’ qualifying offer in free agency this winter, assuming it’s even extended to him.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa is a top trade chip. Whether it’s the lack of shift or adding muscle in the offseason, IKF is a brand new Yankee in 2023. So much that he might be the team’s strongest trade chip heading into the deadline.

Kiner-Falefa’s overall numbers are fairly modest. He’s only batting .256 with five home runs and a .686 OPS and far from an All-Star. However, looking at his game logs, he has steadily improved in each month of the season. Kiner-Falefa hit .275 in June and his five home runs this year already surpass last year’s total. In 2021, Kiner-Falefa didn’t even hit his first home run until August.

He’s a free agent next year, only has about $3 million left on his contract, and has held his own as a utility player. The time is now for the Yankees to sell high on Isiah Kiner-Falefa. At a minimum, selling high on him at the deadline makes acquiring him with Josh Donaldson last year look better.

Gerrit Cole deserves better. Cole is one of the Yankees’ two All-Stars this season, along with Judge. He certainly deserves it, having gone 8-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 2023. What’s frustrating is Cole’s numbers could arguably be even better were it not for his lineup continually letting him down.

Cole allowed two runs in six innings against St. Louis on Sunday in a game his Yankees lost 5-1. New York averaged three runs of support for him in June while he posted a 2.40 ERA for the month. Cole might wear the Yankee pinstripes and don the interlocking NY, but his outings lately are more reminiscent of former Seattle ace “King” Felix Hernandez. Great performances that end in defeat due to lack of run support. This can’t be what general manager Brian Cashman envisioned when Cole agreed to a $324 million deal.

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.