Bullpen Implosion Says A Lot
Bullpen implosions, like the ones yesterday demonstrated by both New York teams, happen most everyday in baseball. When meltdowns happen on the last day of the season, the final game before the All Star break or on a getaway day at the conclusion of a series, it may demonstrate something more, such as focus.
The Yankees record on final game of a series is well below .500, the Mets isn't much better. Both teams have complained about consistency this year. Both have been consistently bad when it comes to locking down that game prior to a day off, especially if they won the first two games of the series. That is not a championship formula in Major League Baseball.
The Yankees had an opportunity yesterday to make a statement, "We're Back!", by sweeping one of the best teams in baseball. The Bronx Bombers needed a statement going into the All Star break. They face the first place Boston Red Sox 8 times in 11 days starting Thursday. They made a statement, albeit the wrong one.
Yankee skipper Aaron Boone basically told the Red Sox that he doesn't trust his closer, Aroldis Chapman and displayed to his arch nemesis, Boston manager Alex Cora, that temporary closer Chad Green isn't really up to the job for more than a few days. Maybe the Yankees were looking for a few days off to put the first half of the season behind them. They thought they had the game in hand. The Houston Astros had other ideas of their own. They too wanted to make a statement going into the break, after being shut out by New York the first two games of their series this weekend.
The Astros made their statement completing a 6 run, 9th inning comeback, for the 8-7 victory storming into the All Star break in first place. The Yankees thought they had the game in hand, lost focus, blew a great opportunity, exposed at least a temporary weakness in their bullpen and lost an awesome chance to be 7 games behind the Red Sox with 8 battles ahead. A great opportunity slipped away.
Aaron Boone can't play the game for the players but Chad Green looked flat. The team was facing 3 days off and no one was ready. Boone had nearly every pitcher available and rested after Gerrit Cole went 9 scoreless on Saturday but he chose Lucas Luetge to warm up, not All Star closer Aroldis Chapman. In a blink of an eye, Jose Altuve was crossing home plate with the winning run. That lack of faith in Chapman in a crucial situation, by the Yankee skipper may have said it all, not the statement the Yankees could have made had they held on.
Max Goodman of Sports Illustrated covers the Yankees. He'll be on The Drive with Charlie and Dan today. We'll grade the Yankees.