So, how was everyone’s weekend? Between the disappointing showing of Aroldis Chapman on Friday with the high slider to walk in the game winning run, or the Yankees being held scoreless on Sunday, there were few things positive about this weekend. The Yankees have several things they must do before their series against the Detroit Tigers–a team that shows promise early in this 2022 season.
1. Put out an all points bulletin for their offense
First things first, Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner, and fans alike, must put out an APB for the Yankees’ offense. The Yankees were held scoreless by the Orioles in 26 of the 29 innings they played this weekend. That is inexcusable. The Orioles are rebuilding. They famously have two top prospects in triple A, one of them being elite pitcher Grayson Rodriguez.
A quick look at the box scores this weekend would make one believe Rodriguez had arrived. But that is not the case.
Instead, the Yankees on Sunday alone were held scoreless by Bruce Zimmerman, a pitcher with a career ERA of 4.71. Sunday was perhaps their worst offensive showing yet, scratching only four hits against the O’s, with one of those hits coming from Kyle Higashioka. This is not what the Yankees are. Higashioka should not be your offense, rather he should supplement your offense, and be a supporting member to superstars like Judge or Stanton.
Perhaps Sunday’s performance would have been more easily forgiven if there was a strong offensive showing throughout the weekend. While they won Saturday 5-2, thanks to Donaldson’s homer, in that game, they were still held to 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position. These are issues that are carrying over from seasons of past. No one expects the Orioles to go winless an entire season, but to allow them to take 2 of 3 from the Yankees is terrible.
While there is no cause for concern regarding Judge–so long as his health remains, he will likely provide his usual power numbers–other players like Torres have seemingly been automatic outs in the lineup. Torres has been a shell of who he was when Cashman touted him all those years earlier. Further, if Torres can’t adjust against the Orioles–a team he historically demolished in 2017–then his future in New York may be dwindling.
2. Plan to go undefeated against the Orioles the rest of the season
If you read this thinking that is impossible, then you haven’t been paying attention. The Tampa Bay Rays last year went a record 18-1 against the Orioles last year. The Rays also won the AL east last year. Is this a coincidence, or a team “getting fat” off of weak competition?
Every year, baseball is filled with arguments of teams’ records or hot streaks being related to who the teams play. And similarly, some predictions can come out of those. Since the start of September 2020, the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and Rays went a combined 53-15 against the Orioles. The Yankees, meanwhile, have gone 16-13 against the Orioles. Last year alone, the Yankees went 11-8 against the Orioles. Compared to the Rays’ torrid 18-1 record against the Orioles, it is a miracle the Yankees only missed the division by 8 games and not more.
The point of all these numbers is that the forecast looks bleak. Going into last year only the Rays had been considered a threat to the Yankees for the division. While the Red Sox essentially made it to the playoffs, there strong season was not foreseeable. This year however, every team except the Orioles stands a true chance to make the playoffs or even win the World Series.
Every MLB analyst predicts the AL east teams to be beating up on each other throughout the season. And it has already begun: the Yankees took 2 of 3 from Boston, and split with Toronto. That would be a victory for the week. They were supposed to coast into Monday, and sweep the Orioles, or at least win the series. That, of course didn’t happen.
This feels eerily familiar to last year. Sure, it is only April, but the 2021 Yankees came hours away from having to play in a game 163 to see who made the playoffs. April games matter. Every game matters in this division. Losing 2 of 3 to a team that will likely finish with north of 100 losses is a terrible look. This fanbase is already fuming over the lack of offense, lack of additions, and change in their team.
This weekend illustrated those concerns are true. These are the same Yankees. Perhaps even worse. Last year the Yankees had a winning record against the Orioles, but not by the margin that is comfortable. There aren’t going to be many easy victories this year. So it would serve the Yankees well to figure out how to make their last losses against the Orioles be behind them because if the other AL east teams perform against the Orioles, the Yankees’ playoff chances are going to shrink substantially.
3. Extend Nestor Cortes for 350 million.
Now of course, this is a bit hyperbole. But there needs to be some positive takeaways from this weekend, right? For everything negative that happened in Baltimore, Nasty Nestor continued his dominance. He struck out 12 and allowed three hits over five innings. This was nothing short of dominant. And sure, an argument can be made that it was the Orioles, but these same Orioles scored five off the Yankees’ bullpen.
While the Yankees continue their road trip at a disappointing 5-5 record, one positive can be that Cortes is not looking like a flash in the pan. Rather, he is off to a better start than the Yankees’ actual 324 million dollar player, Gerritt Cole. Of course, that is unlikely to persist, but still, having a reliable starter that can go 5+ innings and keep your offense in the game is always something to be excited about. Look for him to continue his dominance against the new look Guardians, when they come to the stadium this weekend.