Saturday, July 23, 2022

A King-Sized Loss for Yanks...


Michael King / Photo Credit: AP

Breakout Reliever may be lost for season…

The Yankees held on to beat the suddenly high-flying Baltimore Orioles, but the price was heavy. Yankees extremely dependable setup artist Michael King exited last night’s win in the bottom of the eighth inning due to elbow pain. Preliminary diagnosis is an elbow fracture which would cost King the remainder of his season.

Some fans on social media were immediately blaming the ineffective Aroldis Chapman who had given up a three-run homer in the preceding inning which made it a one-run game. King had entered the game after Anthony Santander’s crushing blow off Chapman and needed just seven pitches to record two outs to get the Yankees out of the inning. Injuries happen and it is unfair to place the blame on Chapman. As bad as Chapman was (and he really was), King’s injury is not his fault. As for Chapman, he seems so lost, and it gives doubt if he can ever be the elite reliever he once was or at least be like he was early this season. With King gone, the Yankees need Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga to step up. They cannot continue to, for the lack of a better word, suck. Wandy Peralta, good in his present role, is not a strong late inning option. Here we are, back to ‘Next Man Up’ after a mostly healthy first half (with no intended disrespect to Chad Green).

In thirty-four games, King’s ERA is 2.29 and he has a strikeout rate of 33.2% (11.65 K/9). His 1.7 fWAR is tied for second best among relievers with New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz, and just 0.1% behind the leader, St Louis Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley. King accumulated the second most innings among relievers with 51.0 innings, 2 1/3 innings behind leader Keegan Akin of Baltimore. King’s production will be missed and will be difficult to replace.

As for the game, the Yankees held on to win 7-6. Aaron Judge added two more home runs to his Major League leading total which now stands at 36. 

Aaron Judge / Photo Credit: AP

The unlikely homer was a solo shot to center in the top of the seventh inning by ‘typically an out’ Joey Gallo. The insurance run put the Yankees up, 7-3, and proved to be the difference-maker. Congrats to Gallo, but nothing has changed, his days in Pinstripes are numbered. Hopefully, the homer reminded a few teams that he might prosper away from New York.

The three Yankee pitchers that gave up runs in the game are three of the most troubling on the pitching staff. Not specifically isolated to last night’s game…just the continuation of ongoing ineffectiveness. Jameson Taillon started but was pulled in the third inning, with the bases loaded, after sixty-seven pitches. He allowed two runs and for a pitcher known for his control, he walked three batters. Jonathan Loaisiga was touched for a run for his one inning of work in the sixth, and of course, there was the continued struggles of Aroldis Chapman. He was only able to record one out in the seventh, giving up a single and a walk before Santander’s blast. He also had two wild pitches among the twenty throws. It is challenging to trust any of these guys. We desperately need 2021 Jonathan Loaisiga. He is probably the one I feel can and will get better. Chapman appears to be a lost cause, and Taillon continues his inconsistency. The Yankees needed a top starter without any consideration for Taillon, but he makes you wonder if they need two new starters. I would like to see Clarke Schmidt get his chance so if the Yankees are successful in acquiring either Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas, Schmidt can be the other guy unless you feel he is the first man up to help replace King. The next ten days should prove to be interesting. The talk had been centered on a starter and an outfielder, but suddenly the bullpen is an urgent need. Ian Happ and David Robertson would be a good start.

Ron Marinaccio is expected back this weekend so pardon the pun; he will be welcome relief.

Where’s Tom Brady when you need him? It was funny to see the Boston Red Sox pummeled by the Toronto Blue Jays in convincing fashion, a 28-5 rout at Fenway Park in front of the RSN faithful. They needed a few touchdowns to catch up. It is unfortunate for them that Tom Brady moved to Tampa. The first Jays run made no sense. Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi scooped an infield hit and went directly to first base, ignoring the runner on third base, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr, with only one out. Vlad Jr scored easily but would have been out if Eovaldi had thrown to the plate. It kind of set the tone for the rest of the game, which saw another Sox outfielder, Jarren Duran, lose sight of a fly ball which led to an inside-the-park grand slam. The memes of Duran and Alex Verdugo will be around for a while.

Jarren Duran / Source: Twitter

I was really hoping the Jays would score thirty runs. It was the worst Red Sox defeat since they lost to the Cleveland Indians, 27-3, in 1923. Former Yankee pitchers allowed seventeen of the twenty-eight runs. Eovaldi gave up nine runs in 2 2/3 innings, and former Yankees prospect Kaleb Ort gave up eight runs in just 2/3rds of an inning. Makes me wonder why the Yankees could not score a run when they had the bases loaded in two successive late innings during that Friday night loss to the Red Sox a week ago.

As fun as it was to see the Red Sox tarred and feathered, there is an uneasy feeling watching the Jays as juggernauts. Hopefully, this is just an aberration and not a continued trend in the second half.

The Red Sox are 48-46, 16 ½ games behind the Yankees.

The ESPN documentary, “The Captain,” has been quite enjoyable. Two episodes in, I have enjoyed the interviews and videos, and the chance to see Derek Jeter as we never saw him before. The images and audio only reinforce how great he was on and off the field. I liked his quote which I will paraphrase…I remember what you said, I remember when you said it, and I remember what you were wearing when you said it. It is unfortunate that he had a contentious relationship with the Yankees’ Front Office at times. This is probably what Aaron Judge is feeling today. I guess that is why the second episode was entitled, “Loyalty one way is stupidity.”

We all knew that Derek’s focus was winning championships. Maybe I underestimated how strong his preference was toward winning over personal statistics. You always think, sure, everyone wants to win, and some say it more than others. But Derek lived it, breathed it, and played like it. Impressive then, but even more so today when you reflect on it. Growing up, I remember thinking how tremendous it must have been to see Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio play. We were gifted to see Derek Jeter play.

Congratulations to Giancarlo Stanton, All-Star MVP. It was terrific to see Giancarlo Stanton win the MVP Award for this year’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles. I recognize that a case can made that either Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins or Toronto’s Alek Manoah were equally deserving of winning the award, but it was fun to see Stanton recognized on his home turf in Los Angeles. He grew up in the area, and his success brought recognition to his nearby high school, Notre Dame High School, in Sherman Oaks. As important as it was for Dodgers great Clayton Kershaw to start the game, LA-native Stanton winning MVP was on the same level.

The only negative? I felt sorry for the baseball that Giancarlo crushed. R.I.P.

Giancarlo Stanton, MVP

Trade rumors picking up. I think Juan Soto, 23, is a generational talent. He would be a tremendous Yankee. It is not often you can acquire an elite player at such an early age, with his best years yet to come. Yet, I have mixed feelings. The cost for Soto will be high, both in terms of players, prospects, and capital (if you intend to re-sign him). The player and prospects it would take would seemingly take the Yankees out of the market for a top starting pitcher.

Home Run Derby Champion Juan Soto / Photo Credit: Getty Images

So, what is better? Juan Soto to join elite outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, or potentially an elite starter to pair with Gerrit Cole with presumably enough to grab an outfield upgrade over Joey Gallo? I must side with the latter as much as I would love all. In the playoffs, great pitching beats great hitting. Luis Severino has pitched more than he has in the last few years and is presently on the Injured List, and I am a little concerned that the league is catching up to Nasty Nestor Cortes. Throw in Taillon’s struggles, and there is an urgent need for a top starter. Meanwhile, getting a lesser outfielder (whether it is Ian Happ, Andrew Benintendi, or David Peralta) improves the lineup. If Brian Cashman somehow manages to capture Soto and a top starter, God Bless him. I just do not see how he can do it. But then again, that is why they pay him to make those decisions and not me.

Time to go start watching the transactions wire…

As always, Go Yankees!


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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)