New York Yankees

Last-place New York Yankees struggling with pitching, defense and even hitting

April 20

By Ben Verlander
FOX Sports Baseball Analyst

Things have gone awry in N.Y.

Coming off their three-game weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays, in which they were swept at home, the New York Yankees are an American League-worst 5-10.

That’s right: The New York Yankees, with one of the best rosters in all of Major League Baseball (on paper), are dead last in the AL.

What's going on? It’s tough to pinpoint one issue. It certainly isn’t the roster, which is made up of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo StantonGerrit Cole and so on.

In this case, it starts with pitching. Coming into this season, if you had been told the Yankees' pitching rotation would be in the top five in the AL in ERA a few weeks into the season, what would you have guessed their record would be?

Well, your guess was probably wrong. Because the pitching staff indeed sits in the top five, but that hasn't translated to wins for the team.

That's because the pitching numbers are skewed by Cole's dominance at the top of the rotation, where he's sporting a 1.82 ERA. After that, things drop off sharply, as the rest of the rotation has an ERA of 6.72.

In other words, except for Cole, the Yankees' starting pitchers aren't giving the guys in pinstripes a real chance to win.

Beyond that, the players in the field aren’t helping much, either, as the Yankees' defense has struggled. The Yankees currently sport a .974 fielding percentage, second-worst in the AL and only a few percentage points ahead of that of the league-worst Los Angeles Angels

Pitchers not giving their team a chance to win and fielders not making plays they are supposed to make usually equal losses for a baseball team, but that is only the start of New York's concerns.

We knew heading into the season that pitching wasn’t the Yankees' strong suit, but we figured they had more than enough offense to make up for it. However, that offense – tabbed by many to be the best in the American League – is currently batting .210 as a team, second-worst in the AL.

New York's starting lineup Sunday featured five players with batting averages under .200, which led to three hits in the entire game.

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Any baseball fan would expect a lineup featuring Judge and Stanton to be near the top of the league in home runs, especially when they play at Yankee Stadium, a home run heaven for hitters.

But as of Tuesday, the Yankees are 21st in Major League Baseball in that category. 

Hitting is very much contagious. When things are going well, they seem to go well for everyone. When things aren’t going well, it becomes a big problem, and right now, the Yankees are going through a full team slump.

What do you get when you mix bad pitching, bad defense and bad offense in one pot? You get the worst team in the American League through the first few weeks of the season.

Granted, it’s early. Bad stretches happen to every team at some point in the season. So while all of this is cause for concern, it isn’t yet cause for panic.

Even so, Yankees fans won’t stand for it much longer. They’re already throwing things on the field in disgust and yelling at players.

By their standards, the Yankees haven’t won in far too long (not since 2009!), and if things don't turn around, before long, someone is going to have to take the fall. That someone would likely be manager Aaron Boone.

Boone is already officially on the hot seat. He was handed the keys to a Ferrari, and he's driving it like a Honda Civic.

It’s time for the Yankees to flip the switch on the field – before some switches are flipped in leadership.

Ben Verlander spent five years in the Detroit Tigers organization. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Verly32.


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