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Yankees series preview: Last place?

These aren’t the Bronx Bombers of old.

New York Yankees v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The last time the Yankees finished in last place was in 1990, when owner George Steinbrenner was banned from baseball and they fielded a laughably bad team full of free agent busts, minor leagues from a depleted farm system, and Don Mattingly. The current Yankees find themselves in the cellar, the latest point of the season they have been in last since that 1990 season. However they aren’t laughably bad, they’re a team ravaged by injuries that has been very mediocre.

The Yankees have lost 21 of 35 games since Aaron Judge landed on the Injured List in early June - only three American League teams have played worse during that stretch. They also recently lost third baseman Josh Donaldson for most of the year with a calf injury, although he had been one of the worst hitters in baseball when he was healthy this year.

Kansas City Royals (28-70) vs. New York Yankees (50-47) at Yankee Stadium, New York, NY

Royals: 3.70 runs scored/game (29th in MLB), 5.36 runs allowed/game (28th)

Yankees: 4.35 runs scored/game (19th in MLB), 4.27 runs allowed/game (11th)

That leaves the offensive load to veterans Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton, but they’re not the hitters they once were. Rizzo is hitting just .156/.275/.195 with no home runs over his last 36 games and Stanton is hitting below the Mendoza Line. Rookie Anthony Volpe has been a bit disappointing in his debut, and the team recently recalled top prospects Oswald Peraza to give them a boost.

The Yankees used to be a very patient team, but they’re in the bottom half of the league in walk rate at 8.5 percent. They can still hit it out of the park - only three teams have hit more home runs - and of course, most of those dingers come at cozy Yankee Stadium (79 of their 134 home runs). The Yankees won’t steal much and they are third-worst in Baserunning Runs.

Yankees lineup and bench

Starting Lineup PA HR SB BA OBA SLG fWAR
Starting Lineup PA HR SB BA OBA SLG fWAR
3B Oswald Peraza (R) 53 0 4 .190 .358 .214 0.1
2B Gleyber Torres (R) 404 14 8 .263 .332 .427 1.4
RF Giancarlo Stanton (R) 191 12 0 .198 .277 .313 -0.5
1B Anthony Rizzo (L) 378 11 0 .247 .336 .386 0.9
DH DJ LeMahieu (R) 328 7 0 .231 .293 .365 0.0
SS Anthony Volpe (R) 364 13 16 .207 .278 .374 1.2
CF Harrison Bader (R) 185 7 8 .243 .276 .422 1.1
LF Isiah Kiner-Falefa (R) 225 5 9 .250 .308 .368 0.1
C Kyle Higashioka (R) 162 5 0 .232 .267 .384 0.9
C Jose Trevino (R) 168 4 0 .210 .257 .312 1.0
IF Oswaldo Cabrera (S) 212 4 6 .208 .270 .313 -0.5
OF Franchy Cordero (L) 64 5 0 .194 .219 .468 -0.1
OF Billy McKinney (L) 84 4 0 .241 .286 .456 0.3

The pitching staff has also been hit by the injury bug with starters Frankie Montas and Nestor Cortes Jr. on the Injured List with relievers Jonathan Loaisiga, Lou Trivino, and Scott Effross also out of action. Clarke Schmidt got off to a rough start this year, but he has turned a corner, with a 2.83 ERA and 5.9 percent walk rate over his last 11 outings. He features some of the best spin on his pitches, mixing in a sweeper, cutter, sinker, and curve.

Gerrit Cole has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year and could be a contender for his first Cy Young Award. He has the fourth-fastest fastball among starters and one of the most effective sliders in the game. He hasn’t given up more than three runs in a start since May and he has gone at least five innings in all but one of his starts this season.

Luis Severino missed the first seven weeks of the season with a lat injury and has struggled in his return. He gave up just one run in six innings against the Angels his last time out, but gave up 16 runs combined in his two starts prior to that. His velocity seems fine, but his fastball has been hammered this year with opponents hitting .339 against it with a .609 slugging percentage.

Expected pitching matchups

Friday, July 21 - 6:05 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
Friday, July 21 - 6:05 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Alec Marsh 5.40 6.63 15.0 12.6 4.8 -0.2
RHP Clarke Schmidt 4.31 4.23 94.0 9.1 2.6 1.3
Saturday, July 22 - 12:05 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Brady Singer 5.70 4.40 102.2 7.1 3.1 1.0
RHP Gerrit Cole 2.78 3.38 123.0 9.8 2.6 2.7
Sunday, July 23 - 12:35 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Jordan Lyles 6.05 5.34 102.2 6.4 2.7 0.4
RHP Luis Severino 6.66 6.33 48.2 7.4 4.1 -0.4

The Yankees have the best bullpen ERA in baseball, although their strikeout and walk rates are pretty ordinary. Clay Holmes and Wandy Peralta are two of the best groundball pitchers in baseball, and Holmes has allowed just one home run all year. In the back of the pen, the mighty Yankees have had to rely on some minor league free agents and waivers claims - Nick Ramirez, Ian Hamilton, and former Royals reliever Albert Abreu.

Yankees bullpen

Bullpen ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
Bullpen ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Clay Holmes 2.39 2.49 37.2 11.2 3.6 1.0
RHP Michael King 3.33 3.73 51.1 10.0 3.3 0.4
LHP Wandy Peralta 2.45 4.76 36.2 7.4 5.2 -0.2
RHP Tommy Kahnle 2.50 2.79 18.0 9.0 4.0 0.4
RHP Ron Marinaccio 3.61 4.30 42.1 10.2 5.1 0.1
RHP Albert Abreu 4.14 4.69 41.1 10.0 4.6 -0.1
RHP Ian Hamilton 1.78 3.15 30.1 10.7 4.2 0.4
LHP Nick Ramirez 3.33 3.16 24.1 7.4 3.0 0.3

The Yankees are reeling, having already fired their hitting coach, but they still appear poised to be buyers at the deadline, sitting just four games out of a Wild Card spot. They could have their eyes on a few Royals - Nicky Lopez could help their thin infield depth and Scott Barlow or Carlos Hernandez would be a welcome addition to the bullpen. But the most help they need from the Royals right now is some wins this weekend.


How will the Royals fare in their series against the Yankees?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Royals sweep 3-0
    (8 votes)
  • 10%
    Royals take 2 of 3
    (10 votes)
  • 45%
    Yankees take 2 of 3
    (45 votes)
  • 35%
    Yankees sweep
    (35 votes)
98 votes total Vote Now