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Yankees At-Bat of the Week: DJ LeMahieu

LeMahieu continued his hot streak into Boston.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

It’s so easy to grow skeptical of aging veterans. Their skills will inevitably decline with time and eventually they will be far from the version of themselves that you grew to love. Although, there are sometimes cases where a veteran struggles, then surprises you with an impressive bounce back. Perhaps it doesn’t quite look how it did in their peak, but it sure does look like an everyday contributor to a contending team. Since the All-Star break and Sean Casey’s entry into the Yankees organization, DJ LeMahieu has been a much better version of himself and is starting to make folks feel more comfortable about his 2024 outlook and potential impact on the Yankees’ offense.

Game after game during the Yankees solid run of play in the last few weeks, DJ has been at the helm with well-timed singles, doubles, and even home runs to propel the Yankees into clutch wins. In many ways, he has looked like the DJ of old while running a 134 wRC+.

It’s remarkable to see him turn it around, as he simply just did not look healthy or explosive in the first half of the season. I sat in Yankee Stadium during the series sweep against the Royals and watched him run through his warm up. From my perspective, it did not look like a healthy professional athlete. He slowly worked through his running progression and resistance sprints and at no point did it look like he got the blood flowing. But weeks later, he looked like a completely different hitter. Now, he is taking at-bats like his go-ahead double against Mauricio Llovera. With that said, let’s jump into the quick at-bat.

Pitch 1 (0-0, slider)

I am not very familiar with Llovera. This is his first year in Boston, and he is a sinker/slider pitcher with a funky delivery. If I was DJ, my prep before this at-bat would’ve been centered around what he likes to go to with runners on. He throws his sinker over 60 percent of the time, but in this at-bat against DJ, he started off with a front door slider. LeMahieu isn’t typically an attack first pitch breaking ball kind of hitter, so he let this one pass him by. And plus, sometimes the big slider coming at your ear takes a pitch or two to get used to. That’s okay though – he was just down 0-1. Llovero isn’t a power pitcher anyways. Getting behind in the count isn’t too scary.

Pitch 2 (0-1, slider)

I would’ve gone back to the slider as well. DJ had a slight flinch and clearly had no intent to swing. Why not try and lay another in and get a weak swing or an 0-2 count? Fortunately, this one moved too far away and turned out to be an easy take for the Yanks infielder. His posture and intent made me think he saw this one well too. It was several inches out of the zone and LeMahieu processed it as such. This is where reading swings and takes is so important. If the pitcher-catcher tandem was locked in on DJ’s body language, they would have known not to go back to the slider for the third time.

Pitch 3 (1-1, slider)

But they did! And DJ roped it down the line off the Green Monster for a go ahead double. It was a great swing – something that DJ continues to down the stretch of September. One of the most important things I pay attention to when watching hitter is their ability to adjust pitch to pitch. This is a great example of that and show me DJ is feeling it.