Five Goals: How the Yankees win the 2019 World Series

The first half of the 2019 MLB season was a whirlwind. We saw balls flying out of the yard at an alarmingly high rate, player use of analytics at an all-time high, and Major League Baseball’s first series in England. For the New York Yankees, the first half had many storylines, mostly centered around the injury bug the team has still not managed to fully shake. From the mound to the field and from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the Bronx, it has seemed that no one on this team has avoided an IL stint.

Giancarlo Stanton has played in just nine games with a myriad of different injuries. Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, and the long-forgotten Jordan Montgomery have yet to pitch this season. Up and coming ace Domingo German was sidelined for nearly a month after leading the AL in wins through early June. James Paxton missed three-plus weeks with a knee injury. Last year’s Rookie of the Year runner-up Miguel Andujar played in just twelve games before deciding to shut it down for the season after discovering a partial labrum tear in his right shoulder. After slashing .314/.391/.500 in 42 games, Cameron Maybin hit the shelf in late June with a calf strain and has yet to return. The king, Luke Voit, sat out the last seven games before the All-Star break with an abdominal strain but is expected to return this weekend. And finally, number 99, Aaron Judge, missed all of May and most of June with an oblique strain. He has played in just 33 games this season.

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Given all this adversity you would think the Yankees would have just been lucky to tread water through the first 88 games. Instead, they sit with the best record in the American League at 57-31. The Yanks are 6.5 games up in the AL East, and nine ahead of the team from Boston. They are in the top-six in the majors in categories such as runs scored, home runs, team average, team OBP, and team OPS, thanks in large part to unforeseen major contributors. DJ LeMahieu leads the AL in average, Gio Urshela has proved he is a major league hitter sitting with a .304 average and 23 extra-base hits, and Gleyber Torres is on pace for 35 home runs.

The good times have rolled-on for the Yankees through the All-Star break, and they have put themselves in a prime position to be major players come October. With that being said, the Yankees are nowhere near perfect or a shoo-in for their 28th World Series Championship. Teams like the Dodgers, Astros, Twins and yes, potentially even the Red Sox, will be major threats come postseason time. The Yankees must continue to look forward and take every game as it comes. Here are five goals I have for this club for the second half if they want to put themselves in prime position to win a World Series.

Add a top-of-the-rotation starter

Often like season’s past, the main critique of the 2019 Yankees has been the starting rotation. GM Brian Cashman addressed the situation in the offseason by resigning JA Happ and CC Sabathia while also trading for the Mariners' James Paxton. All three have a combined ERA of 4.39 in 46 starts. The aforementioned ace of the 2017/18 staff Luis Severino has not yet pitched this season. No timetable has been given for his return, but people are suspecting he will be ready sometime in August. Though, the Yankees should prepare for the worst-case scenario. Domingo German was having an All-Star season before his injury, and although he went six innings giving up just one run in his July 3rd start, I would be weary of putting his expectations too high. Not to mention, when German was sidelined New York did not have confidence in any sixth starter and instead went with a bullpen game every fifth day. They must add depth to this rotation, and quality depth at that.

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Big names like Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman, and Trevor Bauer have been linked to the Yankees and Cashman. The Nationals and Indians have seen recent resurgence that may entice them to keep their aces and continue to compete, though Bumgarner and Stroman will most likely be on the move. Bumgarner has the playoff accolades Cashman would want, but he has been a bit injury prone over the past three seasons and is on pace to finish this season with his worst ERA of his career. Marcus Stroman is a power arm who is having a better season than Bumgarner and knows how to navigate the AL East down the stretch. Three of his five career postseason starts have been quality. He is a guy that can give you length, and slot in as a Game Two and Game Six pitcher. With that being said, you could go not wrong with either of these two guys. I do not believe the asking price will be too high as Bumgarner is in a contract year and Stroman will hit his fourth and last arbitration this offseason. Though, even if Cashman misses on these two, he must go a tier lower and pickup one of the likes of Mike Minor, Tanner Roark, or Jose Urena. Adding a starting pitcher is a must.

Get healthy

I detailed the severity and extent of the injuries the 2019 Yankees have suffered above and how unprecedented it has been. Yes, the guys who have filled in have done their job and more, as they are a big reason the Yankees have the second-best record in baseball. We must also credit Brian Cashman for filling this team with enough depth to overcome these injuries. With all that being said, you are delirious if you think a fully healthy Yankee team is worse than what they currently have going night in and night out.

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A healthy Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery would add depth and talent to a rotation that is lacking both. A healthy Dellin Betances makes the best bullpen in the league even better and allows Aaron Boone an even shorter leash on the starting rotation. A healthy Giancarlo Stanton adds the 2017 NL MVP and one of the premier power hitters in the game to an already incredibly lethal lineup. Those four guys alone, who have combined to play in just nine games this season, have a combined 10 All-Star game appearances. They are not just run of the mill guys, they are major contributors who the Yankees will need if they want to win a World Series.

Continue to dominate the Division

Remember way back in March when the Yankees dropped two of three to the Orioles in the season opening series? I do, and I remember the outrage from Yankee twitter and fans across the country. I will not deny that I was a part of the outrage, but we are Yankee fans, all we know is overreaction. Besides the point, since that series the Yanks have beat the O’s nine-straight times to relieve any doubt of losing to bottom feeders like 2018. The Bombers are 6-1 against the Red Sox, and 9-4 against the Tampa Bay Rays. You cannot forget Toronto, who actually has the best winning percentage in the division against the Yanks. New York has only managed four wins in six matchups. Add that all up and it comes out to a grand record of 29-9 against AL East opponents, with a positive run margin of 92.

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The Yankees have been shelling the AL East, and it has not been close. As August and September roll around, the main goal is to win your division in order to avoid the all-or-nothing one game Wild Card, something the Yankees have had the pleasure of playing in during their last three playoff appearances. In order to win your division, it starts by winning games against your division opponents. The Yankees have done an outstanding job of doing that thus far, but they must not take their foot off the gas. They still have 13 games against the Blue Jays, 12 against the Red Sox, seven against the Orioles, and six against the Rays. This gives them a fantastic opportunity to either extend their division lead, or have it sliced thin, and quickly.

Sustain success

This one may seem pretty obvious, “Of course they should want to sustain their success, it’s not like they would try to lose!!”, but post All-Star break you start getting into the dog days of summer and have to avoid the action of ‘just going through the motions’. Many times, teams reel off their best runs, or worst slumps, come the other side of the All-Star break. It is finally looking like the Yankees are going to get some of their key pieces back, so that means you step on the throat, not ease up. The Yankees are returning from the break with a grueling stretch ahead of them that will see the Bombers play 38 games in 38 days (two off days, two double-headers). It is crucial they lock in and extend their division lead over the next month-plus. One bad week and you could see the Rays or Red Sox nipping at your heels.

Load management

The final goal I would like to see accomplished would be load management. The term ‘load management’ has been brought into the mainstream because of the NBA, and more specifically, to detail how the Toronto Raptors handled Kawhi Leonard. The main goal of every franchise in every sport is to be the last team standing. In baseball, this is accomplished when you lift the Commissioner’s Trophy. Though every game in the regular season matters, there are points where it is advantageous to sit a guy down for a night in order to have a better chance at your long-term goal. As this team starts bringing guys like Voit, Stanton, Severino, Betances, and even Cameron Maybin back, I would like to see Aaron Boone have strict slated off-days for not only them, but everyone on the team. The Yankees are in the perfect position do this as they are one of the deepest teams in the majors. We have seen 24 position players and 19 pitchers appear in a game this season for the Yanks, and 95 percent of them have done something well in their time in the bigs. At full strength, or at least as full as they are projected to be, the Yankees would have guys like Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin, Clint Fraizer, Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela, Thairo Estrada, Austin Romine, and others, who would not be in the starting lineup. All of these guys listed have played at least 25 games in the bigs this season! They are very capable players who should be mixed in often to give everyone needed rest, especially the big bodies like Stanton, Judge, Voit, Encarnacion, and Sanchez.

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On the pitching side of the ball, the Yankees have been thin in starting depth, but with a trade most likely incoming and Severino and Montgomery on the forefront of returning, this rotation could go from five capable starters to a healthy eight. Obviously, you would not run out an eight-man rotation, but mixing in guys like Montgomery and Sabathia while giving Luis Severino or Domingo German an extra day of rest is not a bad idea at all. The top of the line starters must be ready to pitch in the postseason, and pitch well. Essentially, I hope Aaron Boone rotates the 25 and 40-man rosters in and out of the lineup accordingly and often if and when we get back to full strength. A fully healthy lineup will look awfully enticing to throw out there every night, but it is not needed, and Boone must understand that. It will help avoid injury, keep bodies fresh, and hey, if it worked for the Raptors why can’t it work for the Yankees?

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To wrap it all up, I believe the Yankees are in an incredible spot ahead of the second half of the season. Amidst all the injuries, this team has powered through to put up the best record in the American League, and second best in all of baseball. There is really no reason to have a cause for concern at the moment, but looking towards October, Cashman must make a move to bolster the starting rotation. The Yanks are starting to look relatively healthy, and though not at their full form yet, we hope to see that sometime in August with a month or so left of regular season baseball. This team is special and has been fun to watch all season. The next 74 games will hopefully lead us to October baseball, and then it’s on to avenge the past two seasons and bring number 28 back to the Bronx.

Article by: Shane Black


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