Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees were on the cusp of winning their series with the NL-worst Rockies and starting their second half strong.

The once-vaunted Yankee bullpen let that win slip away not once but twice. Now, thanks to Tommy Kahnle and Nick Ramirez’s failures, the Bronx Bombers are in last place in the AL East. Again.

It’s the Yankees and we never want to say the ship is sinking. But with a desperate lineup that can’t even lean on usually reliable pitching, New York may soon face some harsh realities.

Some takeaways:

Sean Casey seems legit. Three games is far too small a sample size but so far, the Yankees’ new hitting coach seems a good fit. Gleyber Torres is already hitting .327 this month, but looks relaxed in the box for the first time, well, ever. The same goes for Oswaldo Cabrera, who started his first game in almost two weeks and notched two hits, including a go-ahead RBI single.

Even DJ LeMahieu is looking himself again, with his batting average up to .231. He’s batting .360 over his last six games and though Casey was only on staff for three of them, it’s clear a change is coming.

It’s just one series but perhaps the Yankees lineup will finally settle into having power hitters and, well, hitters instead of all big swings all the time.

The bullpen needs another arm. The Yankees still have baseball’s best bullpen with a 3.25 ERA, and yet the Colorado series showed just how tired it is. The relievers’ ERA was sub-3 earlier this month, and cue uncharacteristic meltdowns against the Orioles and Cubs.

Jonathan Loaisiga’s return from elbow surgery will help these tired arms. Even so, Brian Cashman would be wise to target at least one extra reliever at the deadline. He probably has a diamond in the rough picked out, a la Scott Effross last year.

Regardless of plan, Sunday was a textbook example of a bullpen that’s slowly getting exhausted. Tommy Kahnle didn’t have command of the zone. Clay Holmes worked himself into a fastball count, and CJ Cron answered a hanging sinker with a grand slam. Nick Ramirez is a glorified mop-up guy forced into high-leverage work, and Ron Marinaccio is already overused in his second pro season.

Best bullpen ERA or not, the Yankees need help in this spot, and maybe everywhere else too.

Prepare for no playoffs. The Yankees are currently 50-44, tied for last place in the AL East with Boston and nine games back of first. In a crueler twist of fate, they trail the *Houston Astros* by two games for the last Wild Card.

We have to say it, folks. None of us want to, but it’s staring us right in the face. And Aaron Judge slowly ramping up activity won’t make it go away: The Yankees might miss the playoffs on 2023.

A lot can happen between now and the end of the season. Maybe the Yankees go on a 20-plus game winning streak a la the 2002 Oakland A’s. Perhaps Cashman swings a trade deadline deal for an outfielder, pitcher, and everything in between to spark his team. If Judge returns in top form, all the better.

But that’s a lot of “what-ifs” and the Yankees have serious competition on the trade market this summer.

Make no mistake. From team turnaround to deadline deals, the Yankees have to be essentially perfect the rest of the way. Otherwise, offseason golf will come early.

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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.