New York Yankees Fan

It’s been a big week for the Yankees, they passed their first test matching up against the Minnesota Twins and now head into Boston for a four game set this weekend with the goal of creating more distance in the AL East standings and even knocking Boston a few more games back in the Wild Card standings.

One thing we learned this week is not to sleep on the Minnesota Twins. That lineup can rake. The Yankees have owned the Twins for years but that can come to a halt at any moment. The Twins are hungry for the Yankees, we saw that in game 1 of this series. The Twins and their fans seemed to approach this series as if it were the ALCS. The celebrating in game 1, the way the stadium crew blasted music to try to rattle the Yankees, that team and its fanbase were ready for a battle. I don’t think the Yankees were expecting Minnesota to come into the series guns blazing but the Yankees really bounced back in games 2 and 3. Sir Didi took the game 1 antics personally and put on a show with his bat. Aaron Hicks punished his old team, and Mike Tauchman is feasting off all the fastballs he is seeing. Yankees took the series but they need to be prepared if they face Minnesota in the postseason, the Yankees pitching staff puts absolutely no fear into the Twins lineup and a postseason series between these teams could turn into a shootout really quickly.

We all need to give Tommy Kahnle a shout out. His stuff was electric last night with his changeup falling off the table, absolutely filthy. Most of us wrote off Tommy Kahnle last season, we just assumed he was a reliever that had a good year (2017) but wore out his arm. He was horrible to begin the 2018 season but came back late in the season and looked okay. This season has been a different story, he’s been a reliable arm out of the bullpen and shut down the Twins last night in a close game. A middle reliever is never going to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award but most Yankees fans have to recognize what a great job Tommy Kahnle has done coming back this year.

Speaking of Comeback Player of the Year, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for Gary Sanchez. I think his thumb may be more hurt than we realized and now he injured his groin running to first on Tuesday night. I think a little time off would be good for Gary. Catchers take a beating behind the plate and Sanchez has been no exception. He’s on the 10 day IL, so I think a good two weeks off will allow him to rest up and get healthy. The season is a marathon and the Yankees need Sanchez in that line up, raking like we know he can. A break to heal up is needed and the timing seems perfect considering how well the rest of the team is hitting. Had he not pulled his groin on Tuesday night, I would be writing today to let him play this weekend in Fenway, considering that he owns that park and pitching staff, then put him on the IL following the Boston series to let him get some rest and heal up. Sanchez carried the Yankees with his bat for most of the season, it’s his turn to get healthy and let the rest of the lineup shoulder that load for a few weeks.

While we are talking about Gary Sanchez, does anyone in baseball have worse luck than the Kraken? On Tuesday night he absolutely scorched two balls, both times right at fielders. Last year when he was slumping, it seemed like every game he would hit rockets right at guys who wouldn’t even have to move. Terrible luck on his part.

Luke Voit came off the IL in a bit of a slump, which is natural, he needed to get back into a rhythm. I noticed he was getting a little too pull happy with his swing then on Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, I saw him expanding his strike zone and swinging at bad pitches. I planned on writing about how he needs to focus on having better at bats and swinging for contact, using his power to drive the ball to right field. When Mr. Chest Press is playing his best, he’s using his strength to power the ball focusing more on contact than pulling the ball. Before I could put the solution to press, Voit and Hitting Coach Marcus Thames already worked on the solution. Monday’s game against the Twins saw Luke Voit having better at bats as well as driving the ball to RF. His 19th HR of the season was a ball he hit for contact that he was able to power over the RF wall. Luke Voit is a savage and Marcus Thames is a genius for reading my mind and listening to what I was about to write but hadn’t written yet.

We’ve talked about the good, let’s discuss the bad and the ugly. The one weak spot to this team this season has been the starting pitching. Minnesota gave the starting pitching a good whupping this week and we have to expect Boston is going to do the same. At this point, we have to hope Cashman can swing a couple of deals to hopefully bring in 2 starting pitchers. J.A. Happ has been a 5th starter since the Yankees acquired him. I don’t trust Happ in the playoffs and neither should Boone, Cashman, and the Yankees front office. “Big Maple” James Paxton was brought in to strengthen the starting rotation. I think we’ve had enough time to digest the fact that has not been the case. I’m looking at James Paxton as nothing more than a 4th starter going into the playoffs. Big Maple can change that, he’s had some really good starts, if he can put it together down the stretch and find some consistency, then I think he could be relied upon in the postseason. As of today though, he’s getting a postseason start only because he’ll probably have to. I think an outside of the box approach to the postseason that could be effective would to be to pair up CC Sabathia and Domingo German. I would tell one of those guys that it is his job to get through the opposing line up twice, then he’ll be relieved by the other guy to finish the game. It would rest the bullpen and I think both CC and German can be trusted to put in a few good innings. Maybe CC starts the game and goes 4 or 5 innings, then German comes in to start the following inning, hopefully finishing out the game. The bullpen is going to be taxed in the postseason so this approach could give them a day off with two starters who have proven themselves reliable. We all trust Masahiro Tanaka in the postseason, he’s a true warrior and has earned his pinstripes with his big game contributions over the past 6 seasons. 

Looking at the postseason rotation, we trust Tanaka to start, preferably a Game 2 but we have faith in him if he needs to go in a Game 1. We (or at least I) have faith in a CC Sabathia/Domingo German combined game, preferably a Game 3 or 4, and we’ll start Paxton if we have to but as a 4th starter. The Yankees still need to add a starting pitcher or two. Of course the Mets really f’ed us by dropping games to the Giants over the weekend and making it all the more unlikely San Francisco trades Bumgarner. The silver lining to that being that Houston probably isn’t getting him either. Marcus Stroman, Mike Minor, Matthew Boyd, and Robbie Ray are the realistic names that keep coming up as potentially headed to the Bronx. (Sorry fans, the Yankees are not getting Noah Syndergaard or Zach Wheeler). None of those guys is a proven Game 1 postseason starter so it looks like the Yankees are going to be rolling the dice, not knowing what to expect out of these guys. All the more reason Cashman needs to consider bringing in multiple starting pitchers with the hope that one, or even better both, can be effective in the playoffs.

By JMo

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