The Bronx Bombers don’t score like you’d expect and they have a lot of guys out, but they’re still dangerous.
Before the deadline, the Yankees had a ridiculous lineup on paper. And while it produced a bunch of runs sometimes, it just wasn’t always working. They weren’t left-handed enough for their stadium and they were just way too station to station, lacking athleticism. The power was great, but when it was neutralized, they were essentially held down pretty easily. They went out and did some work to pick up Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo to add some lefty punch and things have looked better. Of course, they’ve been fighting COVID-19 all season long and they’re currently missing Rizzo, Gary Sanchez, Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery. It’s been that way for chunks of the season all year long for the Yankees. They’re definitely making a push now, though, and have given themselves a shot at the postseason that it sort of didn’t feel like they had before.
They definitely have their issues offensively, even with the additions and the big names. Aaron Judge is having a great year and Giancarlo Stanton is having a good year, but it’s pretty much been them. Rizzo has been very good since joining the Yankees, but now he’s out for a bit with a positive test. They did activate Luke Voit off the IL, so maybe he can regain some of his 2020 form and help them out, but Rizzo out is a pretty big blow to their offense that is actually in the bottom third of the AL in runs scored. Their pitching staff is almost as intriguingly weird as their offense. They just have so many injuries that it’s hard to judge anything. As I said above, Cole is out. Montgomery is out. Corey Kluber is still out. Domingo Herman is hurt. Their bullpen has some legitimate arms, but Aroldis Chapman being hurt doesn’t help either. It’s a team that looks so much better on paper than it has throughout most of this season.
Probable Starting Pitchers
It took awhile, but Jameson Taillon seems to have found his stride for the Yankees. He did pitch well against the Royals back in June, but he had another rough start against the Angels the game after. Since the start of July, though, he’s made six starts, spanning 37.1 innings with just 24 hits allowed. He has a 1.45 ERA in that time, so things are going well for the former Pirates righty. It’s a good time for the Yankees for him to step up. His velocity remains down this season, averaging just under 94 MPH, which is the lowest average velocity of his career on his fastball. But even with the decreased velocity, it’s been very effective and it gets enough swings and misses to matter. The pitch he’s struggling with is his slider. I wonder if he’s just had a tough time getting the feel back after missing so much time in 2019 and 2020. Lefties have hit him better than righties, so hopefully Andrew Benintendi can get back in there. He is not likely to get deep in games, though I wonder if the training wheels will come off for him down the stretch.
Carlos Hernandez has been really impressive lately, handling a good offense in the White Sox twice in a row, including once in Chicago. Velocity has eaten up a number of the Yankees big bats including Stanton and LeMahieu, so it might do him well to work everything off the big fastball. With Hernandez, it doesn’t matter really what he’s throwing, though, as long as he’s throwing strikes. His stuff is so good that if he’s throwing strikes, he can handle just about any team. He had a tough outing against the Yankees in New York in June. In it, he walked three hitters and gave up two runs on just one hit over two innings. It’s really simple for him that he needs to throw strikes and if he does, he’s likely going to be fine.
Nestor Cortes just keeps finding his way back to the Yankees and he’s having a really nice season this year for them as a long man in the bullpen and occasional spot starter. This is Cole’s spot, so he has big shoes to fill, but he’s done a nice job of being really difficult to hit. And yes, he qualifies as a “crafty” lefty with a fastball that averages between 90 and 91, a curve he uses for everyone and a slider he uses mostly for righties. He also has a changeup that could probably use a little work as it’s been hit a bit by opponents. Cortes did throw 86 pitches last time and 79 the outing before, so I don’t think he’ll be limited too much by pitch count unless they want to back off him after two outings that long. The slider being so good for righties has actually helped to a reverse platoon split with right-handed bats putting up a .430 OPS and lefties posting an OPS of .804.
Once again, Daniel Lynch gets tested in his now redemption tour following his return to the big leagues. He was pretty solid against the Blue Jays in a tough test and then was good but not great against the White Sox, but he still only ended up giving up one run in five innings against a tough lineup in a tough park. While the Yankees offense isn’t one that has put up big numbers, that doesn’t mean it’s not a scary lineup for a lefty with guys like Judge and Stanton looming. His last start, he got the swing and miss going and picked up a few strikeouts, which we hadn’t seen from him. His slider was really working and now he has a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings since coming back from AAA. If he can have the slider doing what it was doing against the White Sox, he should pass this test just like he passed the others.
The Yankees haven’t announced their starter for this game, but Deivi Garcia seems like a good bet. We’ll update here if it’s not Garcia. But if it is, he’s been all over top prospect lists for a couple years now. His big league debut last year had some big successes like him really limiting walks and getting enough strikeouts, but he also gave up a bit too much. This year in AAA, he’s been dreadful with a 7+ ERA and 43 walks in 59 innings. And he’s had a big home run problem in AAA as well with 17 allowed. He’s actually been better in the big leagues, which isn’t saying much given his numbers in the majors. His fastball isn’t a burner, averaging just around 92 MPH, but his curve is ridiculous. It’s weird that he hasn’t thrown it as much in the big leagues, but if he breaks that out, it’s trouble for opponents if it’s on. It hasn’t really been on the big leagues, but that doesn’t mean that scouts don’t still love it.
The Royals are getting Brady Singer back from the IL for the series finale as they are shifting to a six-man rotation for the foreseeable future, which isn’t too surprising. Singer’s last start before heading to the IL was a disaster against the Baltimore Orioles right after the break. He was shut down with basically a tired shoulder and then got two rehab starts in Omaha. While neither went well, the reports indicate he was using his changeup down there. That’s a positive. One of the things that has bothered me so much about Singer is that he simply hasn’t seemed receptive to actually trying to get better, so maybe these two starts, even though it wasn’t a demotion, will help. Again, the results were ugly, but at least there was something going on there. Singer struck out five against the Yankees in New York, but only went 3.2 innings because he also walked five and gave up five hits.
I don’t do this very often, but I’m going to go against the trends of the way the Royals are playing and say they’re going to take two of three in this series. I think the Yankees offense missing Rizzo and Sanchez will suffer and they don’t have Cole to get one of the games this series either. I may feel very silly for this prediction in a few days, but I just feel like the Royals will play well this series.