October of last year may feel like an eternity ago, but take yourselves back for a moment. The Yankees were 92-70, securing a wildcard spot on the last day of the season. They lost the wildcard game to the Red Sox in a game where Gerrit Cole didn’t make it through three innings.
That prompted an offseason of lofty demands from the most spoiled and toxic fanbase in baseball. There were demands for marquee free agents, anger when those free agents weren’t signed, and calls for manager Aaron Boone to be fired.
Then the 2022 season started and they got off to a fairytale start. On June 15, they had a .742 winning percentage, on pace for 120 wins. It’s a start that had people wondering if they could surpass the 2001 Mariners (116) for most wins in a season. Now after all that, the Yankees could find themselves exactly where they were last year.
Since the All-Star Break, the Yankees are 10-20. If they go 18-22 the rest of the season, which seems optimistic based on their recent performance, then they will finish with the same 92-70 record that they had last year.
Of course they won’t literally find themselves exactly where they were last year because the wildcard game is no more. It still seems likely that they’ll win the division as they’re still eight games clear of second place. They’ll most likely still finish with the second-best record in the American league since there’s no great team in the central, but it would definitely feel like they’re crawling to the finish line rather than sprinting through it.
If the Yankees don’t win at least one playoff series, especially after the start they had, then it feels like they could move on from Boone.
Their last month is not only surprising, but largely inexplicable. There are certain things one could point to for their sudden drop-off, like back-end reliever Michael King being out for the season, or resurgent DH Matt Carpenter being out for the season, or Giancarlo Stanton having a STANTONIAN rehab assignment. But really it seems like the team just got worse overnight.
Clay Holmes was the best reliever in the game at one point, owning a ridiculous 0.46 ERA when he faced the Red Sox on July 9. He would blow a save and take the loss that day, and since then he’s blown three more while successfully recording just one save. Including that day, he’s had a 9.00 ERA since.
Then there’s the case of the vanishing offense. The Yankees are 21st in runs over the last 30 days. Even Aaron Judge has gone chilly, if not cold, only hitting four home runs so far in August. Why is this happening?
My best guess is that someone snuck into the clubhouse and replaced the players’ contact lenses with slightly different prescriptions. Different enough to make it hard to see the ball, but not so different that it arouses suspicion. Either that or Joey Gallo was more important to this offense than anyone wanted to admit. I’m leaning much more towards the first option.
In reality I have no idea. Maybe it’s just some hard and fast regression to the mean. Regardless, no matter how many games they win this season, it won’t be enough for Yankees fans unless they bring home a World Series trophy. I hate to put the word “worse” in the title because back-to-back 90-win seasons is actually good. A lot of fan bases would be more than happy with that, but not this one.