After a disappointing end to the ALCS, let’s take a look at Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Chad Green’s performances in the 4-2 series loss.
Demoralizing. It’s the only word that comes to mind when recounting the Yankees American League Championship Series (ALCS) loss to the Houston Astros. In the six games played the Bombers were able to come away with two wins. Worse than that, they dropped two pivotal extra-inning games in Houston including what would be the last game of their season.
In my last post, I predicted three players would make or break the Yanks championship dreams: Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Chad Green. Unfortunately, my prediction was on target.
Mike Francesca said it best, “I never ever get on guys about injuries…but this is a little different,” he said on WFAN. “Unless you can’t walk, you’re in the lineup in the ALCS.”
Giancarlo played in only two games and was far from terrific. He went 2-7 with one homer, one run scored and three strikeouts. Numbers aside, Stanton always seems to have a major impact on this team simply by being in the lineup. The two games he played were our only victories of the series.
It’s tough for me to hate on Stanton like the majority of Yankee fans. The man played 18 games during the regular season. 18! You bet your ass he was fired up to be back and play a crucial role in a championship run. And from manager Aaron Boone’s press conferences, I get the feeling he is 100% responsible for Giancarlo’s absence. The thing that still doesn’t make sense is the fact that Hicks was able to play with a partially torn tendon in his throwing elbow yet Stanton couldn’t take the field with a knee injury.
Whether it was up to Boone, the training staff or Giancarlo himself, a benching was the decision. Injured players are usually removed from lineups because there is a feeling their presence would be detrimental to the success of the team. In this case, it was just the opposite and yet G still wasn’t out there for games five and six.
Boone could have put any MLB catcher out there, backup or starter, and the results would not have been any worse. Gary failed at every aspect of his job during this series. At the plate he went 3-23 with 12 strikeouts, three RBI’s and a Sanchez classic: a garbage time two-run blast in an 8-3 game four defeat.
He was also just as bad behind the dish. During the ALCS, he was responsible for two passed balls and five wild pitches that could have been called passed balls. Even the official scorers felt bad for Sanchez.
But to the fans that feel there is a need for a new direction at catcher: relax. Throughout his career, Sanchez has been an incredibly streaky hitter. When on, he’s the best hitting catcher in the game. He just so happened to fall into a cold streak at the wrong time. As far as his fielding, he made major strides this season reducing his passed ball count from a league-leading 18 and 16 in 2018 and 2017 respectively to a far more reasonable seven in 2019. Unfortunately, this progress didn’t carry over into the postseason. Baseball is such a cerebral game that poor play on one side of the ball often carries over to the other. In Gary’s case, it created the worst-case scenario.
Based on Boone’s bullpen use in the regular season, it was inevitable that it would be a major part of the Astros series. The Yankees’ most versatile reliever, Chad Green, was sure to see his share of the workload in the ALCS, But with Betances’ freak injury and the Domingo German incident, Greeny was instantly thrust into the spotlight as one of the most important pieces on this Yankee roster.
After a pair of perfect innings in game two, Green was pulled for Adam Ottavino who subsequently gave up a game-tying homer to George Springer. From that point on, Green was not only ineffective but a major part of the Yankees collapse.
Chad returned to the bump in high leverage situations during games four and six, each time surrendering three-run homers. Springer did if first up 3-1 in the top of the 6th to put the game out of reach and Yuli Gurriel took a first-pitch fastball over the left field wall in the first inning of game six. Green’s only opening appearance of the series.
With Cole, Verlander, and Greinke on the other side, so many things needed to fall into place for this team to win their 41st American League pennant. The starting pitching outside of Tanaka in game one and Paxton in game five failed. As a result, the same relievers were out there day after day and Houston was slowly figuring them out. Lack of production at the plate, way too many strikeouts by the team’s biggest names and uncharacteristic errors came together to end the Bombers 2019 playoff run.
If we have any chance of competing for a World Series in 2020, big changes need to be made. Fewer strikeouts in the lineup (that means no Parrot), adjustments in the teams approach at the plate (make it less about homers and more about putting the ball in play) and finally, we need pitching. Badly. I’m hoping Hal and co. will finally make the necessary moves to get this team back where they belong; playing ball under Yankee Stadium lights during the final week of October.