I will admit it. The series against the Boston Red Sox this weekend was absolutely painful to watch.
The Yankees were flat, there's no doubt about it. That being said, the New York Yankees did not perform to their greatest potential.
This slideshow will go over some things that did not work in the Yankees' favor this weekend. I will conclude with what I could see coming up in the future and in October.
Alex Rodriguez has been rehabbing his knee in Tampa for a week. According to George King of the New York Post, Rodriguez will probably begin starting his rehab assignment this Friday. I would expect him to return to the everyday lineup this week.
Alex Rodriguez is an all-time great player. He would have been a lock to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 RBI this season had it not been for the knee injury. I think that he will be able to rebound from the issue and get to 25 home runs on the season, which is not too shabby considering the length of time he has been injured.
Not having A-Rod in the lineup at Boston hurt the Yankees.
If such a great player like Rodriguez were in the lineup, it would bring about a great deal of attention by Boston Red Sox pitchers to the cleanup spot in the order. This would generate better at-bats from players like Mark Teixeira and even Curtis Granderson who hit in front of A-Rod.
Having such a large presence in the order greatly benefits others in the lineup.
After a decent 2010 campaign with 18 home runs, no one thought Jorge Posada would digress from his usual self this much. Despite having a .248 average in 2010, several people thought that Posada would only perform better, as he would be relieved of his catching responsibilities. The opposite effect has taken place.
Jorge Posada, although a legend, has taken the DH spot hostage this season. This has not given players like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, etc. many easy days as a DH.
There has been an indication that Jesus Montero could be called up in the coming weeks.
As you saw last night, however, the Yankees will first try to start up a rotation with the DH spot and other defensive positions. They will allow players like Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones, as well as Granderson, Teixeira, Cano and Jeter play the DH spot.
If Joe Girardi cannot get a great deal of production from the DH in the next few series, Jesus Montero could be given a chance before the August 31 roster expansions. This will be done to evaluate Montero's talent, just in case he would be used in October.
I am starting to really like Eduardo Nunez.
He will be able to play more often, as players like Rodriguez, Jeter and even Cano rotate around the DH spot. He has shown in the Boston Red Sox series that he could be counted on as a No. 9 hitter in the lineup. Nunez brings a huge amount of production to the last spot.
I think Nunez should be used for October if he can continue performing this way. He has shown that he could perform under some degree of pressure. October is a different beast, though, so it is tough to compare the Red Sox series to the ALCS.
It is not even close, but this is the closest type of situation we could see all year.
Nunez has a quick bat and amazing speed, as he could potentially outrun Brett Gardner. Just take a look at how his helmet flies off his head whenever he speeds up! I really like the energy and bat that this kid brings in over and over again, so the Yankees should give him more chances to impress.
The bridge to Mariano Rivera has gained a great deal of strength with its renovations this past week. With the addition of Rafael Soriano, the bridge has become a stop-gap. Even Cory Wade has shown that he could get out of pressure cookers.
Take a look at the bases-loaded with no outs situations in the Sunday Night Baseball game.
Rafael Soriano and David Robertson will be a force to reckon with come October. I call it "SoRobMo". The problem is that Rivera was horrendous yesterday. Mo could be robbed.
If Rivera could somehow improve, the bullpen will be a reckless monster. I do not know what he could do or what his problem is right now, but maybe Rivera should be rested a little. My guess is that he might have just been overworked during the span of the eight-game winning streak.
Whatever it is, though, the Monday rest day and possible rest on Tuesday should hopefully be the cure to this horrible ailment.
The New York Yankees should not be disheartened. The pitching matchups in this game were not even at all.
Bartolo Colon was horrible against Jon Lester on Friday, even though the Yankees got a win out of the 4.2 inning performance. CC Sabathia was heavily favored over John Lackey in the second game. The Red Sox won that horrible matchup just like the Yankees won a badly-favored matchup the day before.
Sunday night proved to be the difference-maker in these bad matchups.
Freddy Garcia looked horrible in relation to Josh Beckett. The Yankees lost because of the starting pitching more than anything. They were lucky to get a run off him after six innings. Garcia only went five innings and helped tax the bullpen for the third time in the series.
That being said, the Yankees should not necessarily complain about this. The matchups in October could look similar, except for the fact that CC Sabathia would face Josh Beckett.
Who is No. 2, though?
It all depends on who holds the hot hand come October. AJ Burnett could most likely be ruled out, unless he tosses a gem for his next start. I would tend to lean toward Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes as the likely second starter if they could perform consistently.
If Montero could show flashes of greatness, I think he could be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason. Manny Banuelos could also be given a few spot starts later in the month if needed.
I do not see as much of a need for Banuelos at this point, however, because the New York Yankees already have a surfeit of starting pitchers. If Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia continue to sputter, Banuelos could be the answer.
I have a tough time seeing the Yankees getting past the Texas Rangers in the ALDS, assuming New York wins the Wild Card. It is certainly possible, however, as the following will be the likely matchups:
CC Sabathia vs. CJ Wilson (W)
Phil Hughes vs. Alexei Ogando (W)
Ivan Nova vs. Matt Harrison (W)
It is tough to predict what the rotation will look like, since anything can happen from now to October. I could easily see Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia being in it, but this is just a preliminary draw-up. The following is an ALCS matchup with the Boston Red Sox:
CC Sabathia vs. Josh Beckett (L)
Phil Hughes vs. Jon Lester (L)
Ivan Nova vs. Clay Buchholz (W)
Bartolo Colon vs. Erik Bedard or John Lackey (W)
The Yankees have a shot at winning these series. It all depends on how the offense performs. This is a potential World Series matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies:
CC Sabathia vs. Roy Halladay (L)
Phil Hughes vs. Cliff Lee (L)
Ivan Nova vs. Cole Hammels (L)
Bartolo Colon vs. Roy Oswalt (W)
It is tough to predict what will happen. However, it has become apparent that the New York Yankees will need two things to happen for a successful October run.
First, Alex Rodriguez and the offense have to perform like their regular selves. Secondly, Nova and Hughes have to pitch like legitimate No. 2 starters.
Hopefully, they will be able to build on their starts against the Chicago White Sox. Do not be surprised if they do worse, though, because the White Sox are not exactly an offensive juggernaut like the Boston Red Sox.