LADY AT THE BAT: Bullpen Underbelly, Absent Offense Hand Yankees Another Loss

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bullpen Underbelly, Absent Offense Hand Yankees Another Loss

Last night’s game was all about ifs and maybes.

If the Yankees offense had managed to score even one run across the first seven innings of the game, then maybe it’s Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller starting the 8th inning instead of CC Sabathia.

If the offense could have put up better ABs against Cole Hamels and worn him down instead of making him throw just 86 pitches, then maybe they could have gotten to the Rangers shaky bullpen and gotten something going.

If the Yankees had anything resembling decent middle relief pitching, then maybe Sabathia, despite his low pitch count at the time, doesn’t even start the 8th inning.

If Sabathia could have managed just one more solid inning, then maybe the mini rally in the bottom of the 8th inning actually would have meant something instead of just being too little too late.

Some of the loss was more of the same missed opportunities with the Yankees (0-for-4 with RISP), some of it was bad baseball (Gregorius doubled off at 2nd base on a liner), and some of it was bad team construction (Yankees middle relief pitchers). Here’s the good news: All three of those situations can change. The Yankees can stop the bad ABs (we’ve seen them do it) and they can stop the boneheaded play on the base paths (I love Didi’s defense and enthusiasm but where was he going on that play?) and they can get some better arms for the pen.

The bad news: While they can do all of those things, the question is the same as it has been since Week 1 of the season. Will they do it? This offense is very streaky and injury prone (See 1B.). We can’t keep thinking they’ll turn it around because they are veteran players. More and more it looks like they won’t turn it around because they are old  players.

The final score last night looked like it was a blowout, but CC Sabathia did his part for 7 strong innings, and I have to believe that if the offense had done anything at all, he would have found a way to get through that 8th inning, or Girardi would have summoned one of his elite trio to do the trick.

I have to believe it because, for most of the season, the two things that have gone right for the Yankees have been CC Sabathia and the back end of that pen throwing 99+ mph gas. So as bad as Sabathia’s past two starts have been (His season ERA has jumped almost a run, which is hard to do the later it gets in the year.), I’m cutting him some slack. His June ERA is still closer to 2 than it is to 3.

So CC’s off the hook and, to be honest, it’s the same with Joe Girardi. Aside from continuing to slot in Aaron Hicks, the Yankees manager is simply playing the hand he’s dealt. He, himself, can’t go up there and hit for his aging sluggers. He can’t suddenly make Hicks look like a good trade, make Carlos Beltran run through a leg cramp or make his middle relief stop being so utterly painful to watch.

Here the Yankees sit, yet again two games under .500 and with two more games against the Rangers on the schedule. Who knows, though. If the Yankees can surprise us all by splitting the series then maybe they can stay close enough to go on a post All Star Break run. Here’s hoping.

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