In normal times, we would be looking ahead to the All-Star break, with a number of Yankees who would probably be headed to Los Angeles for either the Home Run Derby or the All-Star Game itself. Obviously none of that is happening, but the All-Star break still happens in our MLB The Show simulation.
In the leadup to the unofficial halfway point of a baseball season, you can take stock of where your team sits, and for the Yankees, they keep taking one step forward and one step back, treading water while the division-leading Red Sox push their division lead to three and a half games.
The last week of the first half in our sim started with a two-game quick hit with the New York Mets that the Yankees split a game apiece. The first game, Gerrit Cole did what he does best, pitching seven innings, allowing a single earned run and striking out nine against just a single walk. Our sim season hasn’t gone exactly to projections, but Cole has been as good as any of us expected him to be, as the leading favorite for AL Cy Young at the break.
Contrast that with perhaps the biggest pitching disappointment in our sim, as Luis Severino followed that performance with another clunker, pitching just four innings and giving up five runs. Severino’s ERA is north of six, and he’s been a leading cause of the “treading water” phenomenon discussed above, as he consistently pairs good Cole starts with poor outings of his own.
The Yankees finish the first half with a key series win against a team in the Wild Card hunt, the Texas Rangers. All three games were razor-thin affairs, the first match going the Yankees’ way after an eighth-inning, two-run double from Miguel Andujar that ended up being the game winner. We ran this week’s sim the day after Andy took Gerrit Cole deep in an intrasquad game, so maybe our sim Miggy felt he had to keep up with his real life counterpart.
This whole series, but especially the second game, highlight a problem with the Yankees’ offense - the decline of DJ LeMahieu. We’ll write more about this next week, but in the second-to-last game of the first half, DJL strikes out three times and his average dips below .290 for the first time all season. He’s also shown a lack of power, making him far less valuable to the Yankees in 2020.
New York won the rubber match in the final game before the break, thanks to a heroic performance from the bullpen. Three relievers combined to throw five innings, with 10 strikeouts and not a single walk. The Rangers had jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but the bullpen did their job, holding the lead where it was and buying Gleyber Torres and Giancarlo Stanton the time to drive in a pair of runs each.
The Yankees go into the simulated All-Star break 3.5 games back of the Red Sox, solidly in a Wild Card slot. It’s not what we would want from the club but it’s far from the worst possible option.