The Yankees keep coming up empty because they haven’t been good enough

Every year in October, when each team resets to 0-0 and the postseason begins, all participants have the same theoretical bite at the World Series apple.

Winning the World Series is a huge task, which is why it’s so important to make the playoffs in the first place and be able to take that bite. But for the Yankees, a team that has made ten empty-handed trips to the playoffs since their last World Series appearance, those bites of the apple have proved rotten.

The question for them, like every team trying to crack the maddening code that rarely rewards the best team in the regular season, is how to make sure they enter the biggest time of the year with their heels ready to bite.

“You try to build yourself up as best you can, try to train them and prepare yourself as best you can to be in the best situation to put the odds more in your favor,” manager Aaron Boone said in his finale. – season press conference. “That’s the best I can tell you.”

The 2022 Yankees were hit by a plague of injuries in the second half, creating a huge gap between their 57-24 record (.704 winning percentage) before the All-Star break and their 42-39 mark (.519) after . Injuries kept key players like DJ LeMahieu, Andrew Benintendi, Michael King, Ron Marinaccio and Scott Effross from appearing in a single postseason game, disrupting regular season rhythms. to Anthony RizzoLuis Severino, Nestor Cortes and Giancarlo Stanton and left Matt Carpenter, Clay Holmes and Frankie Montas still clearly affected by the postseason.

“It’s not ideal,” Boone said of his team’s time in the practice room. “In the first half, we had that, overall, really good health and consistency. Unfortunately, we had to try a few things on the fly in the postseason. This is not always ideal, but it is sometimes necessary. You obviously want to go with what got you there.”

Instead of being fully and in prime position to recapture their first-inning dominance, as Boone alluded to, the Yankees fielded a makeshift lineup in every postseason game. Aaron Hicks is injured against the Rangers left him out of the Houston series entirely, further depleting the roster, and bullpen hits forced pitchers Jameson Taillon and Clarke Schmidt into unfamiliar relief roles that they ultimately didn’t they did well.

“Usually we have teams every year that come into the postseason with a chance to win,” Brian Cashman said after the Bombers were eliminated. “The special team this year, we got depleted in the postseason, we had a lot of injuries. Register [down the stretch] it doesn’t reflect talent. It reflected a lot of the havoc wreaked on the roster going into the second half as well as the postseason.”

While all of that is true, the truth is that even with a clean bill of health, the Yankees would have needed players to produce in the 90th percentile to clear the Championship Series hurdle. When guys like Carpenter, Jose Trevino and Gleyber Torres — major pieces of the early-season surge — somewhat predictably regressed to varying degrees in October, the Yankees became grist for the Astros’ mill. As Cashman addressed, getting key players back at the right time doesn’t mean much if they can’t play well.

“We also tried to rehab our closer during the postseason,” Cashman recalled. “I was beating someone in Matt Carpenter who hadn’t played in two months. It is what it is. It’s all hands on deck, but I was clearly not the set list where you know what you’re going to get. The list, in some places, turned into auditions or curiosity. “We’re going to try and see where it takes us. Let’s hope for the best.'”

The easiest way to make sure the best is coming is to have some better backup plans. The trades for Benintendi, Effross and Montas were attempts to become as safe as possible, and injuries always come with a touch of randomness that’s impossible to predict, but more depth would certainly help. After Benintendi came along and before he got hurt, Hicks was positioned to be a veteran presence on the bench. He hit .176 with a .526 OPS from Aug. 1 through the end of the regular season, though, and was seen by many as a liability heading into the playoffs.

Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza are poised for bright futures, but were asked to fill a void that was begging for a competent, proven player that never arrived. Tim Locastro and Marwin Gonzalez were burgers. The truly elite teams (think Astros and Dodgers) have talent coming from all angles, whether it’s the farm system that provides depth, savvy outfield pickups, or players 21st through 26th on the roster , all of whom seem to come up with big plays when needed.

Maybe having Benintendi and LeMahieu on the field would have created that pesky depth for opposing pitchers to deal with, and if Carpenter had been a rest pinch-hitter rather than a starter putting more pressure on his injured leg, at his bat he could have pointed. better.

But this year’s bite at the apple has been extremely unconvincing, and if a few things had broken differently against Cleveland, it could have knocked the Yankees’ teeth out in four or five games.

“You try to build a roster in a season — and on the fly during a season, obviously at the trade deadline — it’s hard to get it right,” Boone assessed. “There’s always the unknown that can come up, especially in the last two months of the year.”

“The players that were involved, I have to give them credit for being team-first,” Cashman added. “Clay Holmes, for example, is a ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to help’ guy, but I didn’t know what the results would be. Crap, same thing. Those are the kind of guys where if we can get them right, they give us our best chance. I think ultimately that’s why we had that second half record.”

The hard truth about the Yankees over the past decade and change is that nothing has been wrong with their bites at the apple. There is no magic formula that will lead to cresting at the right time. A cocktail of bad luck and ill-timed slumps doomed them this time, but perhaps worst of all, the Yankees’ only real excuse is that they just weren’t good enough.


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