Key Things for New York Yankees Going into Second Half

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This summer, there hasn’t been any concern about 161st Street in the Bronx. The Yankees have already taken the division lead, despite having the league’s best pitching staff.

Still, nothing will make a difference if the club falls short of its single goal: winning the World Series for the first time since 2009. But before they can worry about that, the Yankees must address a few issues:

Is Severino’s injury severe? A right lat muscle strain forced Severino out of the Yankees’ rotation before the All-Star break. Manager Aaron Boone said on Saturday that Severino won’t throw for at least 2 weeks, which means after the break he’ll miss a few starts.

While the Yankees’ 13-game lead in the American League East gives them plenty of leeway in the regular season, Severino is crucial to their longer-term goals. Going into a playoff series with Gerrit Cole, Severino, and Jordan Montgomery gives some confidence.

Nestor Cortes Jr. and Jameson Taillon are very good at times — and for Cortes, fatigue is a concern, while Taillon struggled down the stretch in his first pennant race last season.

The Yankees must either ensure that Severino can go fully in the games that matter, or upgrade the rotation as a precaution. Severino has an up-and-down postseason career, but he has the attitude to handle the media attention. If he’s fully healthy by the end of the season, the Yankees will be in good hands. Otherwise, they have a possibly exploitable hole.

What relievers can be relied on in October? Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga are the only pitchers with more than 2 innings of postseason experience on the Yankees’ active roster. Unfortunately for the Yankees, injuries and poor performance have pushed both Chapman and Loaisiga down the bullpen.

Clay Holmes and Michael King had a taste of the big game. However, Holmes only pitched two innings in last year’s wild-card game, while King pitched 2 innings in an empty stadium in the 2020 postseason. Wandy Peralta and Lucas Luetge have been dependable for a long time in the majors, but neither has pitched in a postseason game.

Boone is optimistic that Britton, who had exceptional playoff series for the Yankees in 2019 and 2020, will return at some point. But putting in a 34-year-old, surgically repaired arm who has only thrown 18 1/3 major league innings since the pandemic. Ron Marinaccio has some potential, but he’s still a young player. Nobody knows of Miguel Castro, who is prone to walking the bases loaded before striking out 3 consecutive times. Marinaccio and Castro are also injured, but if they recover properly, they may be able to make the postseason roster.

With Domingo German and possibly some new faces at the end of the transfer window, the Yankees will have some options for their playoffs bullpen. It’s simply a matter of deciding who can obtain people out.

What happens with Gallo? Joey Gallo will not get any postseason action. The Yankees won’t mind giving up some outfield defense for guys who can hit the ball.

Gallo’s defense could make him a useful late-game substitute, but defense alone does not help him to earn a place on the postseason roster. The best option is to package him in a deadline deal, telling the trade partner that they can have anyone they want as long as they accept Gallo’s sub-.170 average.

Will Judge set a new home run record? Before the All-Star Game, Aaron Judge had already tied Roger Maris’ league record for home runs. While he only cares about winning, Judge must have his sights set on the single-season record. Judge will need 29 home runs in the team’s final 70 games to break Maris’ 1961 season record.

Can the Yankees overcome the Astros’ size? Let’s be real. It would take a huge upset — or a colossal failure, possibly due to injury — for the Yankees and Astros not to meet in the American League Championship Series. The Astros had the upper hand the last 2 times they met in the ALCS. Will the third time be a charm for the Yankees?

What do you think, leave a comment below?

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