Each year in October when each team resets to 0-0 and the postseason begins, all participants have the same theoretical bite at the Apple World Series.
Winning the world championship is a daunting task, which is why just making the playoffs in the first place and being in a position to take that bite is so important. But for the Yankees, a team that has made 10 empty-handed trips to the playoffs since their last World Series appearance, that bite in the apple has proven to be rotten.
The question for them, just like every team trying to crack a code of insanity that rarely rewards the best team in the regular season, is how to ensure they get into the biggest time of the year ready to bite.
“You’re just trying to build yourself up as best you can, trying to train them and prepare as best you can to be in the best position to make the odds more in your favor,” manager Aaron Boone said at his end. Seasonal press conference. “That’s the best I can tell you.”
The 2022 Yankees suffered a plague of injuries in the second half, creating a huge disparity between a 57-24 record (. 704 winning percentage) before the All-Stars and a 42-39 (. 519) mark afterward. Injuries prevented such important players as DJ LeMahieu, Andrew Benintendi, Michael King, Ron Marinaccio, and Scott Effross from appearing in a single post-season game, interrupting regular season rhythms. Anthony RizzoLuis Severino, Nestor Curtis and Giancarlo Stanton, leaving Matt Carpenter, Clay Holmes and Frankie Montas still visibly impressed by the time the postseason started.
“It’s not ideal,” Boone said of the time his team spends in the training room. “In the first half, we generally had good health and consistency. Unfortunately, we had to try some things quickly in the post-season. It’s not always ideal but it’s also necessary sometimes. You obviously want to get a handle on what got you there.” “.
Instead of being at full strength and in the best position to recapture their first-half bravado, as Boone alluded to, the Yankees have been putting together a makeshift lineup for every postseason game. Aaron Hicks injury Against the Guardians left him out of the Houston series entirely, depleting the roster even further, and the bullpen’s batters forced pitchers Jameson Tellon and Clark Schmidt into unfamiliar relief innings that they ultimately didn’t handle well.
“We usually have teams on a year-on-year basis that go into the postseason and have a chance to win,” said Brian Cashman after the Bombers’ elimination. “This year’s team, we were exhausted in the postseason, and we had a lot of injuries. Score [down the stretch] It does not reflect talent. It reversed a lot of the roster’s havoc as we went into the second half plus the postseason.”
While that’s all true, the fact of the matter is that even with a clean bill of health, the Yankees needed players to hit their 90th percentile score to get past the championship series hurdle. When guys like Carpenter, Jose Trevino, and Jiliber Torres—key parts of the early-season increase—slumped somewhat to varying degrees in October, the Yankees became a mill for the Astros. As Cashman spoke, bringing key players back in time doesn’t mean much if they can’t play well.
“We were also trying to rehab our closers during the post-season,” Cashman recalled. “We were giving the racquets to someone at Matt Carpenter who hasn’t played in two months. It is just what it is. It’s all practical in the deck, but obviously we weren’t the exact roster who knew what you were going to get. The roster turned, in certain places, To auditions or curiosity. We’ll give it a shot and see where it takes us. Hope for the best.'”
Pencil Case Express
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The easiest way to ensure that the best is to have some of the best backup plans. The trade in Benintendi, Effross and Montas were attempts to become as foolproof as possible, and injuries always come with a dash of randomness that’s impossible to predict, but some overall depth would definitely help. After Benintendi came on and before he ended up hurting himself, Hicks was put in to be present on the bench. 526 OPS from August 1 through the end of the regular season, though, and many considered him a direct liability by game time.
Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza are poised for a bright future but have been asked to fill a void that has been begging for a qualified and proven player who never arrived. Tim Locastro and Marwin Gonzalez were absolutely nothing. Truly elite teams (think Astros and Dodgers) have talent coming from all corners, whether it’s the farm system providing depth, clever outside pickups, or the 21-26 players on the roster, they all seem to create big plays when they need to.
Perhaps having Benintendi and LeMahieu on the field would have created that unsettling depth to tackle opposing bowlers, and if Carpenter had been a relief hitter rather than a rookie putting more pressure on his injured foot, his bat would have looked better, too.
But this year’s bite in the apple was so unconvincing, some things could have broken differently against Cleveland, and they could have knocked the Yankees’ teeth in four or five games.
“You’re trying to create a roster in season — and on the fly through the season, obviously at the trade deadline — it’s hard to get it quite right,” Boone said. “There is always the unknown that can arise, especially in those last two months of the year.”
“The players that were involved, I have to give them credit for being first team,” Cashman added. Clay Holmes for example is an ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to help’ guy, but we didn’t know what the results would be like. Carp, same thing. These are the guys who, if we can get them right, give us the best chance. Ultimately I think that’s the one The reason we got the second half record.”
The shocking truth for the Yankees over the last decade and change is that there was nothing inherently wrong with their bites into the apple. There is no magic formula for getting to the top at the right time. A combination of injury bad luck and bad timing doomed them this time around, but perhaps worst of all, the Yankees’ only real excuse is that they simply weren’t good enough.