Boone pulls no punches but exposes Yankees’ Luis Gil problem

Yankees' Luis Gil is at Yankee Stadium mound during the game against the Reds on July 2, 2024.

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Luis Gil, a rising star in the New York Yankees’ pitching rotation, is unable to recoup. He ran into his third consecutive rough outing, as the Cincinnati Reds eked out a 5-4 victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. The pitcher started strong but faltered by the fourth inning, mirroring his recent struggles on the mound and leaving manager Aaron Boone scratching his head.

Luis Gil had been a standout candidate for both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards, boasting a 2.03 ERA and nine wins before his June 20 start against the Baltimore Orioles. However, his last three starts have been rough, with him giving up 16 runs over 9 2/3 innings, pushing his ERA up to 3.41.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone dismissed fatigue as a reason for Luis Gil’s recent downturn.

“Look, I’m not an expert on the pitching mechanics part, but it just seems like he gets a little out of whack mechanically,Boone said. “Obviously, he is a tall guy, long limbs, so you’ve got to be synched up out there. Tonight, there was a lot of good in there, but then when it got [out of whack, he had] a hard time getting it sorted back in. And that’s a little bit delivery and pace related.”

Luis Gil, having reviewed footage of his performances, believes mechanical issues are to blame. Speaking through an interpreter, he expressed confidence that he can bounce back with hard work. He acknowledged the challenges of major league play but remains optimistic about overcoming his current slump.

“Overall, things mechanically, you sink into your body to a good point where you feel comfortable,” Luis Gil explained. “Sometimes, you hit bumps when you are competing at this level. At the same time, I feel assured of myself that by working hard, I’ll be able to get out of it and not let things keep happening.”

This recent decline is a stark contrast to Luis Gil’s earlier performance, where he allowed just seven runs in 55 1/3 innings across nine starts. The Yankees are hopeful that he can return to his dominant early-season form as they push forward in their campaign.

Luis Gil flashed early promise but ultimately struggled in a defeat to the Cincinnati Reds. He kicked off the game by retiring nine of the first ten batters, reaching his 100th strikeout by fanning Elly De La Cruz in the first inning.

But his troubles began in the fourth inning, as De La Cruz tripled and scored. The fifth inning saw Will Benson hit a two-run homer, and after hitting Jonathan India with a pitch, Luis Gil was replaced by Caleb Ferguson, who then gave up a two-run homer to De La Cruz.

Post-game, Luis Gil acknowledged difficulties with his delivery and pitch execution but couldn’t pinpoint the exact issues.

“Later in the fourth, I came in, maybe the delivery wasn’t quite as I wanted,” the pitcher said. “I can’t pinpoint exactly. I wasn’t able to execute my pitches in the fourth and fifth [innings].”

Decline of Luis Gil leaves Boone scrambling for reasons

The Yankees’ late-game surge wasn’t enough to avoid a 5-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, marking their 11th defeat in 15 games. Despite a three-run burst in the sixth inning—sparked by Ben Rice’s two-run double and Aaron Judge‘s league-leading 32nd home run of the season—the Yankees couldn’t close the gap.

This outing was Luis Gil’s first attempt at a quality start since his six-inning shutout against the Twins on June 4. The Yankees remain committed to supporting Gil as he strives to recapture his early-season form and consistency.

The Yankees’ starter continued to grapple with inconsistency on the mound. Luis Gil admitted to difficulties in pitch execution, though his fastball velocity remained intact. Opponents have exploited fastballs left in the strike zone, with no evidence of pitch-tipping issues.

“Maybe the delivery wasn’t quite what I wanted,” Luis Gil said. “I can’t pinpoint exactly why. It’s tough. It’s something that I’ve been working extremely hard on … and finding a way to execute all of my pitches.”

New York Yankees pitcher Luis Gil hands the ball to manager Aaron Boone as he leaves during the second inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Thursday, June 20, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Yankees manager Boone recognized Luis Gil’s command problems but failed to find out what led to his problem in maintaining consistency. He discussed the pitcher’s mechanical struggles, particularly his challenge in maintaining a consistent release point. Boone noted that taller pitchers like Luis Gil often face difficulties in staying mechanically synchronized and hus inability to adjust mid-game causing problems.

MLB’s Baseball Savant data reveals that Luis Gil’s fastball has experienced an average drop increase of two inches over his last two starts, which could explain the recent uptick in hittable pitches. His recent trend shows a drop in fastball usage, decreasing from over 50% in his last six starts to 45% or less in his past three.

When asked about this adjustment, Luis Gil emphasized the need for pitch variety, stating there was no specific reason for the shift, “Not one reason in particular. You’re just mixing your pitches. You want to be able to do that.”

Both he and the Yankees assert that he is neither injured nor fatigued.

But Boone acknowledged concerns about Gil’s recent performance, suggesting that the pitcher might be “out of sorts” rather than fatigued, and noted his difficulty in making in-game adjustments.

Luis Gil expressed uncertainty about the exact cause of his struggles, mentioning possible issues with his delivery but couldn’t pinpoint a precise reason. His final stats included two hits allowed, including a two-run homer to Will Benson, along with three walks and three strikeouts over 83 pitches, with just 49 for strikes.

The defeat added pressure to the Yankees, who began the day tied with the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East. As the team seeks solutions to Luis Gil’s struggles, they must also focus on maintaining their position in a closely contested division.

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