Aces turn aches: Yankees’ pitching prowess hits a sudden slump in two games

Yankees' Carlos Rodon on June 21 and Luis Gil on June 20 react after giving away runs against the Braves and Orioles respectively at Yankee Stadium.
Sara Molnick
Saturday June 22, 2024

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The New York Yankees, who had been cruising through the season, are now facing a rough stretch, having lost three straight games for just the second time this year and dropping six of their last eight. Their fabled rotation has ended its historic stretch in the worst possible manner allowing opponents to put the Yankees deep into a hole early in the game.

This slump included tying a long-standing club record for nine runs allowed in consecutive innings, a feat last seen in June 1940.

Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged the team’s recent difficulties, suggesting this challenging period could serve as a vital reminder of the sport’s inherent unpredictability and the continuous need for improvement. He stressed that such setbacks could help sharpen various aspects of the team’s performance.

“It’s been a rough week for us. That’s part of it,” the manager said after the 8-1 defeat to the Braves. “And it’s in a lot of ways not the worst thing to happen, to make sure in a lot of areas we’re tightened up. Everything’s kind of gone our way and [this is] a reminder that, hey, this thing’s hard.”

The return of ace Gerrit Cole from the injured list was anticipated to strengthen an already formidable rotation. However, recent outings have fallen short of expectations. Carlos Rodon’s early battering in the latest game contributed to the Yankees’ second consecutive lopsided defeat. The stark contrast in their performance is evident in the numbers: over their first 76 games, the Yankees outscored opponents by 125 runs, but in games 77 and 78, they were outscored 25-6 and out-hit 33-9.

New York Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodón watches a two-run home run by Atlanta Braves’ Matt Olson during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Friday, June 21, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Both Luis Gil and Rodon struggled to pitch beyond the fourth inning in their recent starts, collectively surrendering 15 runs in just five innings. This is a significant shift from the earlier part of the season, where the starting pitchers consistently provided length, pitching at least four innings per outing.

Rodon’s recent struggles are particularly concerning given his strong performance earlier in the season, which had helped fans move past his disappointing previous year. However, two consecutive poor starts have rekindled worries.

These setbacks highlight the volatility of baseball performance and serve as a reminder of the challenges even top teams face over the course of a long season.

Yankees stare at summer slump

The New York Yankees’ remarkable streak of 76 consecutive games with starting pitchers going at least four innings was snapped this week. The impressive run, the longest in franchise history and the seventh-longest season-opening streak in MLB since 1900 ended when Luis Gil was pulled after just 1 1/3 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, having given up seven earned runs.

Clips from the Yankees vs. Orioles game at Yankee Stadium on June 20, 2024.

The very next day, Carlos Rodón‘s short outing against the Atlanta Braves compounded the Yankees’ rotation troubles, marking two consecutive games with starters unable to last four innings. These performances have raised concerns about the stability of a starting staff that had appeared nearly unassailable earlier in the season.

Despite the recent pitching struggles, the Yankees maintain a strong standing, 24 games above .500. However, the rotation’s recent issues, combined with ace Gerrit Cole still working back to full strength after an injury and a bullpen showing signs of fatigue this month, have increased the pressure on the remaining starters, including Marcus Stroman and Nestor Cortes.

Outfielder Juan Soto addressed the recent challenges, stressing the need for resilience and a positive attitude as the team navigates this tough stretch. He emphasized that the team’s October ambitions hinge on overcoming these current pitching woes.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Juan Soto spoke on Friday. “I think we’re doing the same thing we’ve been doing since Day 1, but it’s not going to be that easy. The struggles are going to come. “We just got to take it like a man, keep our chin up and keep moving forward.”

As the season approaches its midpoint, the Yankees are tasked with stabilizing their pitching staff while maintaining their competitive edge in a tight AL East race. The team’s ability to adapt and improve their pitching will be crucial as they aim to keep their postseason hopes alive.

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