Analysis

Yankees, Aaron Boone, Fall to Rays in ALDS

The Yankees once again are ending the season without a World Series Trophy, after another early exit, who is to blame? 

The Yankees season has come to an end.

It’s pretty tough to win a baseball game when you’re up against your opponent and your own manager.

The Yankees went into game five with all the momentum. They had the best pitcher in baseball on the bump and were up against a bullpen day for the Rays. One would think the Yankees lineup would be able to get to at least one of the four Rays pitchers. But like we saw all season, this streaky offensive came to a screeching halt at the exact wrong moment.

Offensive struggles aside, we need to address the elephant in the room and that is Aaron Boone. Boone, as always, managed by the book and not with his head when he pulled Kyle Higashioka for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning of a tied do-or-die game.

Kyle Higashioka
Source: Getty Images

Higashioka hit .308 this postseason with a homer and two RBIs. Most importantly, he only struck out twice. Mike Ford on the other hand only had one at-bat in the series to that point. So naturally, Boone called upon him to pinch-hit. The move hurt them offensively and more importantly, defensively forcing them to turn to two time passed-ball champion Gary Sanchez to catch Aroldis Chapman.

I’m willing to bet that Chapman wasn’t as confident out there with Sanchez behind the plate. It sure seemed that way during the futile Mike Brousseau at-bat when he kept going back to his fastball when it was clear Brousseau was hunting one.

This was just one example of a boneheaded move by the Yankee skipper this postseason. The decision to pitch Jonathan Loaisiga in extras against Cleveland and the decision to bring in J.A. Happ for Deivi Garcia after just one inning are two more.

Happ was surprised by the move himself and expressed his feelings in the nicest way possible.

“Yeah, they know how I felt about it. But ultimately, I pitch when I pitch.”

Happ declined to answer when he was asked if he felt like he was put in a position to succeed.

The Yankees underperformed this season, no doubt. But a team can only bounce back from so much adversity. It’s one thing when the adversity is created by the opponent. It’s another when it’s created internally by the club manager. And from Happ’s answers or lack thereof, it’s clear that he isn’t too pleased with his manager’s decisions. I don’t think he’s the only Yankee that feels that way.

Looking ahead to 2021 this team has all the core pieces coming back and should be even better on the pitching front with the addition of Luis Severino and Domingo German. But before this team can reach their first Fall Classic in over a decade, they need a change of culture and that starts from the top down.

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