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Gio Urshela: A much-needed fella

The Yankees’ offense has looked impotent during the course of the team’s five-game losing streak. In the Bombers’ last five contests, the lineup has produced a total of just 12 runs (2.4 runs per game). By contrast, the Yankees scored 125 runs in their first 22 games of the 2020 season, which comes out to an average of 5.68 runs per game. Scoring five or six times is a formula for producing victories, scoring two or three times is not.

When a team finds itself in an offensive rut, its premier players usually bear the burden of turning things around. Unfortunately, the Yankees don’t have that luxury. With DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Judge battling injuries, the Yankees will have to trust some of their secondary stars with the task of reinvigorating the offense.

Gio Urshela is one of the most critical of those secondary stars.

A Tale of Two Gios in 202o

Gio got off to an absolutely scorching start this season, and his production proved to be a major factor in the Bombers’ early offensive output. During the team’s first four series, Urshela raked at the plate. In his first 11 games he slashed .324/.405/.649 while posting 3 HRs, 10 RBI, a .439 wOBA, and a 183 wRC+. It was nearly a perfect start for Gio, who added incredible value at the bottom of the Yankee lineup.

For the last two weeks, however, Gio hasn’t looked as good in the batter’s box. Since Aug. 14ย Urshela has appeared in eight of New York’s nine games. His slash line in those eight outings is a rather paltry .179/.226/.429. In his last 31 plate appearances, Gio’s wOBA is just .270 and his wRC+ is 68. Not great numbers, especially for a guy who has been nothing but reliable since cementing himself as the starting third baseman in 2019.

The Need for Better Contact

As with most players who find themselves in the middle of a slump, Gio isn’t driving the baseball. In his last eight games Gio is only hitting the ball hard 21.7% of the time. Last season, Gio’s hard hit percentage was an impressive 44.0%. He started the 2020 season making even better contact than he did in 2019. From July 23rd to August 12th, Gio recorded a 48.3% hard hit percentage.

If recent history is reliable, than Gio’s present struggles are probably nothing more than an aberration. When Urshela starts roping the ball all over the ballpark again, his offensives numbers should bounce back. That’ll be great news for the Yankees, and a boost to their depleted lineup.

A Much-Needed Fella

Besides Luke Voit and Mike Tauchman, Gio is the only healthy Yankee who has really impressed at the plate in 2020. LeMahieu, Stanton, and Judge were dominating opposing pitchers, but their health status remains up in the air. With so many names going into and out of the lineup on any given day, the Bombers need to be able to rely on Gio’s bat over the next two weeks.

He’ll get a chance to turn things around this weekend against the Mets, who rank 20th in baseball for team ERA (4.89), 17th for WHIP (1.34), and 26th for opponents’ batting average (.256). I’d love to see Gio play in four of the five games and rack up some hits. If he does, then perhaps we can score a few more runs, pick up some key wins, and begin righting the ship.