For the second time in three years, the Astros trounced the Yankees in the ALCS. This time, the Bombers failed to even make things interesting and push this series to a Game Seven. It all went wrong in a number of ways. We’ll try not to spend too much time ruminating about this early postseason exit, but we get to be sad/mad/disappointed for the next few days. Here’s a full breakdown of where it all went south, in case you tuned out for some of these games.
1. RISP fails
Why do the Yankees lose the ability to hit with runners in scoring position during the postseason? It is painful to watch them bat with runners on. It is almost preferred that they just hit one solo home run after another. Headed into Game Six, the Bombers were 5-for-29 with runners in scoring position in this series. They had so many chances against Gerrit Cole and did nothing with them. It was the same story all over again in Game Six.
2. Starting pitching
We all knew this was coming. This has been the Yankees’ weakness for years, and certainly their biggest weakness this season. With the exception of James Paxton’s Friday performance, starting pitchers not named Masahiro Tanaka did the Yankees no favors. I’m not sure it’s fair to be too upset with Luis Severino, who missed the entire season with various injuries. Counting on him in the postseason rotation wasn’t a great strategy to begin with. Paxton getting the early hook on Sunday also forced the bullpen to work just a little bit harder.
3. Adam Ottavino
Speaking of the bullpen, Ottavino quickly pitched his way out of the circle of trust. He didn’t have it in the ALDS, when he was constantly called on to face Nelson Cruz, and he was completely ineffective in the ALCS too. The Yankees were pretty much pitching down a bullpen arm towards the end of this series because of how bad he was. Of course, he was fine in Game Six, but it was already out of hand at that point.
It’s fitting that the season would end just how it started, with Giancarlo Stanton injured. He played 18 games during the regular season, and barely got healthy by the end of September. The outfielder homered during Game One of the ALCS, and pulled a quad running to first base during that game. Of course he did. They benched him the next three games, then he returned for Game Five and was awful. They might as well have replaced him on the roster with someone actually healthy who might have injected some life into the lineup.
Also, CC Sabathia’s career ended with a shoulder separation on the mound.
5. Untimely slumps
In addition to not getting much production from Stanton, Edwin Encarnacion went missing during the ALCS. The entire bottom half of the lineup (Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Brett Gardner) didn’t do much of anything either.
6. Awful home plate umps
This one speaks for itself, especially last night. How are you going to call both balls inside and balls outside of the zone strikes?
Unfortunately, this ALCS rematch didn’t end the way the Yankees were hoping. It would have been so fun to see this team carry the magic all the way to the World Series. They overcame adversity at every turn during the regular season, they just ran out of steam when it counted.