It is always risky to look at a break in the schedule and predict what it means to a team.
If a club is riding a win streak, the time off isn’t good. Of course, the break often helps a struggling team regroup.
So, based on the recent stretch of wretched play by the Yankees, the postponement of three Subway Series games at Citi Field this weekend due to a Mets player and coach testing positive for COVID-19 likely helps them.
“There is no question, coming off a tough series, having a day or two to regroup a little isn’t necessarily the worst thing, but any time we are missing games that comes home to roost later on,’’ Aaron Boone said on WFAN Friday afternoon, a day after his club dropped the last of three straight to the Rays.
After the way the Rays handled them this week, the Yankees need to push the refresh key. Helping them do that is the three-day break that could stretch to four if they don’t play Monday, which is a dark day on the schedule for both the Yankees and Mets and could be filled with a doubleheader.
There have been much darker days in Yankees history, but this one has been bleak. The three losses dropped them out of first place in the AL East and that doesn’t top the list of downers.
Aroldis Chapman returned from the COVID-19 injured list two days before Zack Britton went on the 10-day IL with a left hamstring problem. James Paxton underwent an MRI exam Thursday on his left elbow/forearm area that fortunately didn’t unearth a UCL injury but landed him on the IL with a Grade 1 strain of the left forearm flexor. How long he will be out remains to be seen. Gleyber Torres left Thursday’s 10-5 loss with a left leg issue. An MRI exam on Friday found Grade 1 strains of his quad and hamstring and he was placed on the IL.
All of that happened with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu already on the IL, which had to account for some of the ineptitude at the plate against the Rays. Need more reasons for a break?
Gerrit Cole gave up two runs and struck out 10 in 6 ²/₃ innings on Wednesday and was furious about being taken out with two outs in the seventh with the score tied, 2-2. Eventually the Yankees lost, 4-2, thanks to a killer fielding error by Britton who also gave up two hits and issued a walk.
If the Yankees and Mets play one or two games on Monday, Cole will be able to start, which he wouldn’t have if the games were played Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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The time off could revitalize bats belonging to Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner. Hicks is hitting .209 (14-for-67) for the season and Gardner is at .164 (9-for-55).
Finally, the Yankees had one hit in 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position against the Rays.
“It is something we have to hound on,’’ Luke Voit said of the Yankees’ putrid stick work in the clutch before they went 0-for-6 in Thursday’s 10-5 loss. “We talked about it before [Thursday’s game] and it’s still not enough. It’s very obvious we’re not producing in big spots.’’
That honesty comes from the Yankees’ hottest hitter who is hitting .311 (23-for-74) with a team-leading 10 homers, 20 RBIs and an OPS of 1.115. In Voit’s last 10 games he is hitting .405 (15-for-37) with six homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.407 OPS. He wasn’t part of the RISP troubles since he went 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs in the clutch against the Rays.
Of course the three-day break might cool Voit off, but it also gives Judge’s right calf more time to heal. He is eligible to come off the IL on Saturday.
The Yankees started the season winning nine of the first 10 games and announced themselves as the favorites in the AL East. Even after dropping three of four to the Rays in St. Petersburg (Aug. 7-9) and losing Stanton to a hamstring injury the Yankees bounced back to sweep the Braves in two games and take four straight from the rancid Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Then the Rays and injuries to Britton, Torres and Paxton surfaced in The Bronx and left the Yankees in second place with a 16-9 record.
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