Turning point: Isaiah Kiner-Falefa’s costly error in Milwaukee

Isaiah Kiner-Falefa error
Daniel Nolan
Saturday September 17, 2022

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The Yankees were leading the Brewers 5-0 after the second inning on Friday night. However, by the eighth inning, Milwaukee rallied to take a 6-5 lead and win the game in the ninth. An erroneous defense by shortstop Isaiah Kiner-Falefa became the turning point of the game that the Brewers sealed with a 7-6 win. It was the shortstops’ 16th error this season.

It would be wrong to say that last night’s loss was anybody’s fault but Montas’s — when a starting pitcher gives up five runs, you can’t fault the offense, defense, or relief pitching. But Isaiah Kiner-Falefa’s two-out error became the most significant contributor to the Yankees’ defeat. To make matter worse, it has become a recurring problem.

Willy Adames stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning with the chance to take the lead. Pinch-runner Keston Hiura danced off to third base and with two outs, he would be running on contact. Adames, who had already driven in four of the Brewers’ five runs, struck a well-hit ground ball to Isaiah Kiner-Falefa’s right. IKF got to the ball easily, then watched it bounce off the heel of his glove and slip out of his throwing hand’s reach.

It was ruled an E6. His error gave the Brewers their first lead of the game.

Josh Donaldson’s homer off Taylor Rogers (4-7) tied the game in the ninth inning. But in the bottom half, Milwaukee cemented their biggest comeback victory of the season.

New York fans are debating Isaiah Kiner-Falefa’s defense all through this year. Analysts, commentators, and podcasters have been repeatedly baffled by Boone’s insistence that he’s one of the best defensive shortstops in the league.

While the obvious solution to this problem is to move him away from shortstop (he was the third baseman earlier in his career), his recent offensive performance and the Yankee’s overcrowded roster make things difficult.

For one thing, the player was responsible for driving in a run in the first inning. While not an offensive powerhouse, his slap-hitting approach has been effective in clutch situations — he has the third-best batting average on the team when there are runners in scoring position.

The second problem is that if you move Isaiah Kiner-Falefa to third base, where will Josh Donaldson go? Donaldson has been a mild disappointment for the Yankees this year, but let’s not forget he hit a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth inning.

On other teams, you might slide Donaldson into the DH role, but after his midseason injury, it seems that the Yankees are keeping Giancarlo Stanton out of the field for the foreseeable future.

And then DJ LeMahieu will return. But he isn’t a shortstop and it is difficult to say if he replaces Donaldson at third. Does he take first base away from Rizzo when he returns from the injured list?

The Yankees have too many mediocre contributors. It seems the only way to get Isaiah Kiner-Falefa out of shortstop and substitute him with rookie Oswald Peraza.

The bright spot for the Yankees right now is that their offense has finally returned after an abysmal August. They’re 7-3 in their last ten games and 4-1 in their last five. Apart from Montas, their starting pitching looks good, and Aaron Judge has added a potential triple crown to his chase for 61 home runs.

But it is strange for a first-place team to have so many questions about its starting roster going into the playoffs. By the end of September, it will be clear which nine players will make up the Yankees’ batting order.

Do you agree with the turning point analysis? Should the Yankees replace Isaiah Kiner-Falefa with Oswald Peraza?

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