Whether it be overall managerial or in-game decisions, Aaron Boone, the Yankees’ first-time manager has made some questionable calls this season.
As we’ve talked about previously, Shane Robinson is in the lineup too much, but it goes further than that. Right now, while Judge and Sanchez are on the DL, there is ONLY ONE optimal lineup for the Yankees and Aaron Boone has only employed it once in the last week, on Monday night.
The Yankees Optimal Lineup
1. Brett Gardner (L) LF
2. Giancarlo Stanton (R) DH
3. Didi Gregorius (L) SS
4. Aaron Hicks (S) CF
5. Miguel Andujar (R) 3B
6. Greg Bird (L) 1B
7. Gleyber Torres (R) 2B
8. Neil Walker (S) RF
9. Kyle Higashioka/Austin Romine (R) C
Okay that’s technically two lineups because our catchers need off days
Now, you can argue with the formulation of the lineup. Should Hicks leadoff, bat 2nd, or 3rd? Should Andujar and Torres be flipped? However, position-wise, while Stanton has a gimpy leg, Neil Walker should be in Right Field, like he was on Monday.
In the six games from 8/7 – 8/12, Shane Robinson was in RF in five of them. This is a player who should not even be rostered on a playoff team.
Boone, unfortunately, has also sat Greg Bird against the last two lefties the Yankees have faced, despite him his .799 OPS against them. When asked, Boone replied, “I believe a lot in [Bird] and who he is and his ability to handle both [lefties and righties],” Boone said. “This doesn’t change that for me. This is more about Martin Perez today and wanting to keep Voit relevant.”
The problem with Boone’s statement is that he also sat Bird against lefty Mike Minor. The Yankees priorities should be getting Bird on track, not giving him intermittent days off against lefties in order to see Luke Voit. If anything, when the roster is completely healthy, Neil Walker will be spelling Bird at first base, not Luke Voit.
If the Yankees are serious about taking advantage of the soft schedule over the next few weeks, they need to have their best bats in the lineup. Deploying an optimal lineup, as we saw on Monday, is not enough though.
Boone has been wildly inconsistent in his management of Yankees starters.
There have been 5 games this year in which Aaron Boone did not let Sabathia throw more than 80 pitches. The Yankees are 2-3 in those games, but more importantly, Sabathia has not really been bad in those games. The big lefty has given up less four earned runs or fewer in each of those five starts. Perhaps the most questionable of these early pulls was the most recent game against the Red Sox where Boone pulled Sabathia with a 4-2 lead after 3 innings. The Red Sox won that game 15-7.
Boone needs to let Sabathia go at least five innings unless he’s actually struggling (like more than 4 runs…) or has a really high pitch count. Giving the quick hook to the elder statesman does not inspire confidence in the rest of the team. Unfortunately, CC was just placed on the DL with knee inflammation. Could this be the reason for CC’s early exits?
If C.C. might be being under-worked, Luis Severino is being overworked. The young phenom seemed to hit a wall in July when he put up a 6.58 ERA after back to back 6 run starts against the lowly Rays and Royals. Boone’s answer after those two blow ups? Leave the kid in for back to back starts of 115 and 109 pitches. Severino pitched poorly again on Monday against the Mets and wasn’t able to get past the 4th inning on 98 pitches.
I’ve argued previously that the Yankees should have been bullpenning while Tanaka was on the DL. Now, with the acquisitions of J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn, bullpenning is not necessary. However, with the specter of a one-game Wild Card looming, Luis Severino needs to be on his game. It seems obvious that the star pitcher is fatigued. Boone and the Yankees should consider going to a six-man rotation to give Sevy a rest.
With a rotation of Severino, Happ, Tanaka, Sabathia, Lynn, and Gray, both Severino and Tanaka, who has pitched with a partially torn UCL since he became a Yankee, can get extra off days. Or, if the Yankees are uncomfortable giving Gray the ball (and who could blame them?), they can start Chance Adams, or use the bullpen for an entire game.
If the Yankees are serious about winning the division, they need to put their best foot forward every single game. A well-rested Severino is a necessity. Alternatively, if the Yankees are merely playing for the Wild Card, Severino must be in top form for that one game.
Let’s look Boone’s usage of the Yankees’ superstar closer. Aroldis Chapman is simply not good when he is underused. After the All-Star break, Chapman came back on seven days rest and promptly gave up three runs to the Mets. Chapman had four days rest after July 31 and came back on August 5 to blow the save against the Red Sox. Chapman also gave up a run after five days rest on July 1.
In fact, in the eight games, this year that Chapman has surrendered an earned run, half of them have been after three days rest or more. It’s understandable that Boone has a ton of arms in the pen, but there seems to be a pattern with Chapman. He needs to pitch at least twice a week, and he probably shouldn’t go more than three days without game action.
The Rest of the Pen
With a 5.27 ERA, the Yankees bullpen has not performed well since the All-Star break. They are mostly being dragged down by Jonathan Holder (9.64 ERA) and A.J. Cole (7.15 ERA), although to be fair to Holder, he had one massive (and high profile) blow-up against the Red Sox in which he allowed seven earned runs. Guess which two relievers have pitched the most innings for the Yankees since the All-Star break.
Holder and Cole.
Now, we are talking small sample sizes here, just 11.1 IP for Cole and 9.1 IP for Holder, but you’d like to see Boone get the ball into Betances’ (8.0 IP) and Chapman’s (7.0 IP) hands most often. Once again, on Monday night, Boone went to Cole with the Yankees down one run to the Mets. Cole promptly gave up three solo home runs in 1.1 IP.
UNHINGED COLLECTION ONE: 8/25 💔⛓ pic.twitter.com/IxQs2qAu0w
— UNHINGED CLOTHING (@UNHINGEDBRAND) August 14, 2018
I understand it’s the Mets, but with Degrom on the other end, Boone should have been going to his best pitchers in the 6th inning. Robertson, Betances, and Chapman are your best shot at keeping that game at a one-run deficit.
Newly acquired Zach “Great” Britton has been terrible as well in the six games he’s pitched in, but I’m willing to, and I’m sure the Yankees are willing to, give him a bit more slack as he is returning to form after being injured until June this year. That being said, Britton did not allow a run in his final eight appearances for the Orioles, but he has allowed at least one run in half of the games he’s pitched since becoming a Yankee including a run on Monday against the Mets.
Boone will need to get a better feel for his bullpen going forward if the Yankees are to compete with the Red Sox for the division.