Yankees’ struggles against former teammates raise eyebrows

Ex-pitchers Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montgomery shut out their former team the New York Yankees.

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The Yankees had an advantage in Friday night’s game against the Cubs because they were familiar with starting pitcher Jameson Taillon and had experience playing alongside him. Paul O’Neill, a former Yankee and MLB analyst, shared this belief on air, and many fans agreed. However, a few innings into the game, Michael Kay, the long-time Yankees voice, expressed his surprise that the Yankees were unable to score any runs. This was the second shutout of the team against a former Yankee.

Taillon, who was passing through one of his worst phases, had a remarkable game, shutting down the Yankees’ offense throughout the night. He pitched eight innings without allowing any runs, giving up only one hit and striking out four batters. As a result, the Cubs won the game 3-0, and the Yankees were unable to score any runs in the ninth inning.

MLB fans and analysts were quite surprised to see the Yankees making an abject surrender to a pitcher they knew well and against who all opponents had won games. The Cubs starter performed exceptionally well and appeared to be one of the best pitchers in the National League, competing for the Cy Young Award as the New York bats fail to score.

Unfortunately, with the defeat, the Yankees lost their third consecutive match. Their lineup has been struggling to score runs, managing only four runs in a total of 27 innings in the past three games. As a result, they dropped to fourth place in the American League East, falling behind the Blue Jays. This is the first time they have been in fourth place since May 18.

Yankees failed to answer Taillon

On Friday, the Yankees faced veteran pitcher Jameson Taillon, who had been having a tough season with a high earned run average (ERA) of 6.93. This was one of the highest ERAs among all pitchers who had pitched over 60 innings in the entire Major League Baseball.

Yankees DH Giancarlo Stanton looks frustrated against the Cubs on July 7, 2023, at Yankee Stadium

Given Taillon’s struggles, it seemed like a favorable opportunity for the Yankees to have a successful day at the plate. However, it turned out to be a disappointing game for the Yankees’ offense. They continue to struggle with consistency, and their performance at the plate has been unpredictable. The only consistent aspect seems to be the opposing starting pitchers performing well and shutting down the Yankees’ offense.

Taillon’s performance on Friday was notable because he joined a long list of starting pitchers this season who have pitched at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs. In fact, he became the 21st pitcher to achieve this feat. This means that in nearly one out of every four games the Yankees have played this season, the opposing pitcher has looked like a top-notch player, regardless of their previous performance.

Comparatively, last season there were 17 such occurrences, and there were 11 in 2021. Additionally, there have been 23 instances this season where the opposing pitcher has simply lasted seven innings against the Yankees. These numbers indicate that the Yankees are struggling to work the count, get on base, and put pressure on their opponents. 

Taillon had his best start of the season against the Yankees. He had been struggling all year, giving up an average of four runs per game and struggling to prevent hitters from making solid contact. But on Friday night, everything changed. Taillon completely dominated the Yankees’ lineup. Before that game, no other pitcher who had pitched more than 60 innings had a higher ERA than Taillon.

In the entire game, the Yankees could only manage three baserunners against Taillon. He threw eight innings without giving up a single run. The only hit he allowed was a single by Gleyber Torres in the first inning. The team could only muster one more hit and two walks throughout the entire game. They never even had a runner advance to second base. 

Dj LeMahieu of the New York Yankees is slamming his helmet after a disappointed game against the Mariners on June 23, 2023.
Charles Wenzelberg/NYP

Jordan Montgomery too did this to Yankees

The Yankees were familiar with Taillon, as he had played for them in the past. This week, however, was the second time they struggled against one of their former pitchers. Jordan Montgomery, who was Taillon’s teammate and friend, had also performed well against the Yankees when they faced him while he was playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. Montgomery had almost pitched a no-hitter against his former teammates, further highlighting the struggles of the New York offense during those games.

Montgomery, who used to play for the Yankees but was traded last summer, defeated his former teammates for the second time. This time, he was pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals. On July 3, Montgomery led the Cardinals to a 5-1 victory over Gerrit Cole and the Yankees. It was a disappointing end to a trip for New York, as they finished with a record of 3 wins and 3 losses. Montgomery showcased his skills by pitching 6 and two-thirds innings, allowing only one run against the Yankees in the game held in St. Louis.

The 30-year-old left-handed pitcher, who made his debut with the Bronx Bombers in 2017, allowed only an unearned run, two hits, and three walks in 6 and two-thirds innings. He held his former team without a hit until Gleyber Torres hit a double with two outs in the sixth inning.

Montgomery was traded to the Cardinals on August 2 last year in exchange for centerfielder Harrison Bader. Just four days after the trade, Montgomery faced his former team, the Yankees, and emerged victorious. He pitched five scoreless innings, giving up only two hits in that game.

Cole even acknowledged that Montgomery outperformed him because he effectively moved the ball and displayed great skill. The New York ace mentioned that he knew Montgomery for a long time and that his performance posed a challenge for the team.

Throughout the season, people have been saying the same thing even as the team has been struggling to score runs: The players on this team have a track record of success, so they are expected to improve. However, with only two days left until the All-Star break, the Yankees had their worst offensive game of the season. Their difficulties against former teammates indicate a lack of effort and a failure in their overall strategy.

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