From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
After winning a division title during a shortened 60-game regular season, the smart money was on Rays manager Kevin Cash, and his team added another year of heartache for the New York Yankees after Tampa Bay eliminated New York in this past weekend’s ALDS in a thrilling, five-game series.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Yankees season ended in disappointment.
This time, it was a more versatile, diversified and better pitching depth on the roster that crushed the Yankees’ hopes yet again of winning a World Series title. That’s something that has eluded the Bronx Bombers since 2009 — the agonizing count is now up to 11 seasons.
After spending a record $324 million on starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, and coming in with high World Series expectations, the Yankees could not get out of the ALDS for the second time in four years.
In the past three years, the barriers have been Cole, when he pitched for the Astros in 2019, a ferocious Red Sox hitting team in ’18, and star pitcher Justin Verlander in ’17.
To be a Yankees’ fan is extra excruciating because the Astros and Red Sox (forget the trash cans for a moment) — and even perhaps the Rays — have reached greater heights in achievements than the Yankees with their high hopes and shorter postseason results in recent years.
Granted, the Yankees were hit with key injuries that withered the team’s talent, and the pitching staff really missed Luis Severino, who was out for the season after Tommy John surgery. James Paxton was shut down with a flexor tendon strain, and Domingo German spent the season serving a suspension under the league’s joint domestic violence policy.
The team changed medical personnel over the offseason, failing to yield a remedy.
Luke Voit and DJ LeMahieu won home run and batting average titles, respectively, but Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton missed half the season with injuries.
The roster doesn’t need a complete overhaul; it needs better overall starting pitching and more players who have a greater variety in their games than just bashing the ball over the fence. Tampa outhomered New York in the series, 11-10.
Something called timely hitting would help the cause instead of batters, like Gary Sanchez, who aim for home runs and then only strike out. When the Yankees don’t homer, they don’t win. It’s no coincidence that the big bashers (Yankees, Twins and A’s) come up short year after year in the playoffs.
The Yankees don’t manufacture runs, and that’s their persona, but cutting down on strikeouts would be a start.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org