The New York Yankees have been eliminated in a four-game sweep by the Houston Astros. Struggles across the roster headlined their rough series and now they look to the off-season.
Over the course of the last year of baseball for the New York Yankees, they have seen highs that no other team reached throughout the season. They were virtually unstoppable for the first three months of the season and were predicted to win the World Series early in the year. With an absolutely stacked roster, it was quite clear to the majority of the league that they were the team to beat.
Despite the incredible mountaintops that the team climbed early in the year, no other team experienced the lows that the Yankees experienced either. 2022 could be described as a whirlwind of a season for the Bronx Bombers, to say the least. It was truly astonishing to see a team that could be a combination of the best team in baseball, and also the worst.
What happened in the ALCS?
As many fans have noticed over the last few years, the Houston Astros seem to top the Yankees every time they meet up. It doesn’t matter what type of streak the Yankees are on, every series they play against Houston ends with a lost series.
Houston’s roster is deep both offensively and defensively, which is where they beat the Yankees outright. Rookie sensation, Jeremy Peña, brought the goods the entire Championship Series, as he lashed six hits (three of which were important home runs). His offensive charge was only a part of the collective success of the Astros.
For the Yankees, the offense was down, the pitching struggled to get key outs, and the defense didn’t get the job done. With these three issues plaguing the roster, it makes it very difficult to win a series, especially against Houston.
Where did Judge Go?
Throughout the entire regular season, all eyes were on Yankee center fielder, Aaron Judge. Performing at a record-breaking level garnered him quite a lot of attention, and he didn’t disappoint. He finished with an AL record-breaking, 62 home runs and a .311 batting average. However, we saw a completely different hitter once the postseason started. He added two home runs to his total, but only hit for .138 batting average for the entirety of the ALDS and CS.
What’s even worse is the fact that he only managed to muster up one hit throughout the Championship Series as whole. His offensive prowess vanished, and essentially went from being the poster boy of the offense during the regular season, to being a liability practically overnight.
Due to the unfortunate schedule changes during the Yankees’ series versus the Cleveland Guardians, the pitching staff essentially went into panic mode. Every pitcher’s normal schedule promptly became moot and they were all forced to adapt accordingly. This forced multiple starting pitchers to pitch on short rest, and bullpen arms to experience almost zero rest from game to game.
Ace starting pitcher, Gerrit Cole, pitched three times over the course of the postseason and performed pretty well given the circumstances. Cole recorded a respectable 3.71 ERA over the three games he pitched. However, the rest of the staff struggled to keep runs off of the board. Nestor Cortes, who posted a 2.44 ERA during the regular season, was hit hard during the postseason and ended up posting an enormous, 5.4 ERA by the end of the Championship Series.
The bullpen was led by Wandy Peralta, who performed at the top of game for as long as he could. Yankees manager, Aaron Boone, used him quite heavily throughout the two series and ended using him seven times throughout the postseason.
The major problem that existed in these two series was simply the fact that the offense struggled to ignite when it mattered most. Run support is crucial, especially when facing the Astros, who have a relentless offense from top to bottom.
The Diamond in the Rough
Newly acquired outfielder, Harrison Bader was the unlikely hero of the Yankee offense this postseason. In a lineup of stars that seemingly flamed out, Bader picked up the slack as much as possible with his bat. Usually known as a singles hitter, he showed flashes of very promising power this postseason, blasted five over the wall in the nine total games that the Yankees played. He also sported a stellar .333 batting average and four walks to boot.
Given what he accomplished this postseason, it could be a very good sign for the Yankees and for Bader himself. Not typically known as a power hitter, but if he can find more of a power stroke in seasons to come, the Yankees may have another five-tool star in the outfield.
Moving Forward to 2023
The Yankees have a lot of players that could potentially be on the move this offseason. Aaron Judge headlines the list with his contract expiring this off-season. Yankee fans around the world are hoping that the front office will open the checkbook for him, but time will tell if the Yankees are willing to pay up. We may see a very similar team as this one next season, or a very different one. But one thing is for sure, they will be looking to beat the pesky Astros.
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Featured image courtesy of Brad Penner / USA Today Sports
Statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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