The most destructive ingredients in the Yankees’ troubling decline from early-season juggernaut

On July 8, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox to win 15½ games in the AL East and 38 games over .500. Apparently they couldn’t hurt. They were about to run away with the division and maybe make a run with an all-time good record.

Since that game at Fenway Park, the Yankees have gone 12-23 after Thursday night’s lackluster loss to the Blue Jays and their AL East lead has been reduced to single digits while failing to generate a spark around some moves. curious at the trade deadline. . The fading has left some observers wondering if the Yankees are in the midst of a colossal meltdown.

So what has happened since mid-season? Let’s retrace what’s happened since that crucial game on July 8:

The woes of programming

Josh Donaldson homered for a third straight game that night against the Red Sox — to go along with nine RBIs in that span. On Wednesday night, he hit a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the 10th to beat the Rays in the Bronx. Between the two, in 32 games, he went 22 for 111 (.198) with seven doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs (and 40 strikeouts), bearing no resemblance to the right-handed strength the Yankees were hoping to get when they traded for the 36-year-old this spring.

Josh Donaldson struggled offensively, posting a 27.9% strikeout rate.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Aaron Hicks had two hits and a pair of walks on July 8. A day later, he homered to increase his OPS to 0.722. He hasn’t had an extra hit since and became virtually unplayable, posting a .443 OPS in 105 plate appearances.

Gleyber Torres, who had three hits and two RBIs in that game at Fenway, was also a shell of himself. After recording a three-hit game on July 12 against the Reds, he went 23 for 125 (.184) with seven added hits, four walks and 37 strikeouts in his last 30 games.

Health problems

There was a time this season when the Yankees barely had a player hit the IL. Now they can barely avoid it. Clay Holmes (back spasms) is the latest Yankee to be sidelined, joining Giancarlo Stantonstill recovering from left Achilles tendonitis, and Matt Charpentierout at least until the end of next month after fracturing his left foot. Luis Severino (the Tet Michael Castro (shoulder) ended up on the 60 day IL. And Anthony Rizo (back spasms) and DJ LeMahieu (toe), although they avoided IL stints, also missed games and were clearly hit when they were on the field.

The doldrums of trade deadlines

New York Yankees starting pitcher Frankie Montas reacts during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Saturday August 13, 2022, in Boston, MA.
Frankie Montas has allowed 14 earned runs in 14 innings with the Yankees since arriving from Oakland at the trade deadline.
Corey Sipkins

Last year, the Yankees needed a deadline restart and added Rizzo and Joey Gallo to provide some left-handed pop. Rizzo helped. Gallo did not. But the moves helped them fight their way into the playoffs. Now Gallo is gone and Holmes, the real price of this deadline, is on the IL.

As of this year’s deadline, the Yankees controlled the division, but were on the hunt for bullpen weapons, a play for the rotation and an outfielder or two. They got all of those things, but instead of giving the team a boost, the Yankees looked worse.

It didn’t help that Frankie Montas still coming back from an inflammation of the right shoulder. Nor the fact that Harrison Baderthe return for the odd trade of Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis, is still nowhere near playing center field for the Yankees, prompting the club to call Estevan Florial this week to add to the outfield mix .

And while left fielder André Benintendi remained healthy, he has been disappointing since arriving from Kansas City. So settled the man Lou Trivinowho arrived from Oakland with Montas.

Lucky charm ?

Kyle Higashioka #66 of the New York Yankees reacts from the dugout during the 1st inning.  Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Although he’s been hitting better lately, Kyle Higashioka hasn’t been able to help the Yankees into the win column in his last five starts.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Jose Trevino won the majority of playing time behind the plate, the Yankees need to get something out of Kyle Higashioka. He’s been hitting better lately — 12 for 41 with three home runs and an .892 OPS since July 6 — but the Yankees have an uncanny knack for losing when he starts. They have dropped each of the last five games while in the lineup, though Higashioka has homered twice in those games and the Yankees have been shutouts twice.

Verification on Deivi

New York Yankees pitcher Deivi Garcia pitches the first inning of a spring baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Monday, March 28, 2022, in Lakeland, Florida.
Deivi Garcia has had a nightmarish season but some inside and outside the organization believe he can still salvage his career.
PA

Deivi Garcia has become an afterthought after a lost 2021 season and an even worse start to 2022.

After six consecutive horrific starts with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, in which Garcia had a combined ERA of 11.57 and gave up 30 hits and 13 walks while hitting three batters in 18 ⅔ innings, he was put to sidelined for two months due to a finger injury.

But some members of the organization have not lost faith in the right-hander, who is still only 23 years old.

An opposing scout saw Garcia depart for Double-A Somerset on Aug. 12 and came away impressed after Garcia struck out a season-high 10 batters in five innings.

“He’s got a long way to go to get to where he was a few years ago, but he had more life on his pitches than I’ve seen in years,” the scout said. “I don’t think he will ever be what they thought he would become, but it’s not a lost cause.”

An annoying after-smell

Thairo Estrada #39 of the San Francisco Giants hits a two-run home run late in the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Oracle Park on August 14, 2022 in San Francisco, California.
Former Yankee Thairo Estrada has become a valuable utility with the Giants.
Getty Images

When the Yankees picked up Rougned Odor last year after his release from Rangers, it was thought to be a low-risk bet given that Rangers were picking up most of his expensive contract. But the Yankees sacrificed something.

To make room for Odor on the 40-man roster, they got rid of Thairo Estrada, designating him as an assignment before trading him to the Giants. Estrada, 26, has emerged in a utility role this season in San Francisco, logging time at second base and shortstop, as well as third base and outfield. In his last 28 games, he hit .300 with a dozen extra hits, 17 RBIs and an OPS of .869. He is also not eligible for arbitration until next year.

Estrada signed with the Yankees as a Venezuelan international free agent in 2012 and showed promise when he was first called up to the Bronx in 2019.

Odor had a disappointing year with the Yankees and was released in November before being picked up by the Orioles.

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