The 56th installment of Jake Schoeneberger’s opinions on the Yankees
After topping the Guardians in a hard-fought, 5-game ALDS, the Yanks headed to Houston to begin the ALCS against the Astros. The ‘Stros had the best record in the AL, they’ve bounced the Yanks from the playoffs 3 times in the past 7 years, and they’re looking to end another Yankee season with heartache.
With that in mind, here are some thoughts in random order on the ALCS from Jacob Schoeneberger:
Rotation and Roster
Taillon has been announced as the Game 1 starter for the Yanks. He’ll face off against the Great Verlander in Houston. Taillon was scheduled to start the deciding Game 5 but got held off in favor of Nestor with the rainout. Jacob Schoeneberger actually loves that Taillon is getting this start to begin the ALCS. I think he’s ready, I think he’s earned it, and I think he has the potential to go out there and just relax and enjoy the experience.
While it hasn’t been announced, you have to assume Sevy will get the Game 2 start. And herein lies my first fear going into this series. Because the Yanks took 5 games to beat the Guardians, they wound up pitching Cole and Nestor twice. They don’t have their ideal pitching rotation set up for this series. It’s really going to take the lineup waking up and putting up some runs in order to take this series. I don’t think the Yankees can rely on winning games where they only score a couple runs.
My other big worry is home field advantage. You could say that these teams match up pretty evenly on paper, but that X-Factor is having home field advantage. The Astros have to feel pretty good knowing that if this series goes deep, those later games will be in their house.
When the roster was announced, there were a couple surprises. Peraza is now on the squad, as are Montas and Weissert. DJ did not make the team because he’s still hurting. But I was surprised to see Luetge not on the list. That one is interesting. And unfortunately, Marinaccio didn’t make it either as he’s been hampered by his injury. And it was officially announced that Sevy will start Game 2, no surprise there.
If there’s a single Jacob Schoeneberger Baseball Nugget of Wisdom it’s this: Champions find a way. Nothing really matters in the long run other than a team’s will to win. The team that will ultimately win the championship will be the one that overcomes adversity, believes in itself more than the opposition, and just goes out there and does its job. It doesn’t matter where the games are played, or who’s pitching, or who’s in the batter’s box, the team that wins it all rises above and gets it done with no excuses. Time to put up or shut up, ALCS time.
Game 1 – ‘Stros Strike First Blood
In what felt like a foregone conclusion, the Astros claimed the 1st game of the series 4-2. The bottom line, Houston just pitched better than New York. Taillon started for the Yanks and went 4.1 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits. He left with the game tied 1-1 and that’s not a bad outing from your 4th starter.
Verlander went 6 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits. The only run he allowed was a homer in the 2nd inning from Bader, who continues to perform really well in the postseason. When the game went to the bullpens, it was Houston’s pen that won the day. Schmidt allowed 2 homers in the 6th inning to put the Astros up 3-1, and Montas allowed another dinger in the 7th to round out Houston’s scoring and put them up 4-1. Rizzo connected on a solo shot in the 8th but that was all the Yanks would get. I mentioned earlier that the Yanks cannot win games in this series only scoring a couple runs. They need the lineup to put up some crooked numbers.
In fact, the Yankees struck out 17 times in the game, while the Astros struck out just twice. That’s the biggest K differential in MLB postseason history. Uhh yeah, that needs to end. We know the team was tired, but they need to string together better at-bats. And a big congrats to the Great Verlander who, with his 11 K’s on the night, now holds the MLB record for strikeouts in the postseason. The guy is a beast, much respect to him.
If there’s a single Jacob Schoeneberger Baseball Nugget of Wisdom it’s this: Winning the 1st game of a series is great, but it doesn’t end the series. Houston has to feel confident right now, but the Yanks are still dangerous. Sevy will start Game 2, and we have to assume Cole will go in Game 3 and Nestor in Game 4 (though it hasn’t been officially announced yet). The way I see it, the Yanks will need to win 2 of the next 3 games in order to have a chance to take this series. We’ll see how it plays out.
Game 2 – Two Runs Ain’t Gonna Cut It
Again, Jacob Schoeneberger mentioned before this series started that scoring 2 or fewer runs will only lead to a quick end. The Yanks plated just 2 runs again in Game 2 as they lost again 3-2. The pitching is doing its job, the lineup is not.
Sevy started and went 5.1 innings. He made one big mistake pitch, allowing a 3-run homer to Bregman in the 3rd inning. Otherwise, he was solid and kept the team in the game. Loaisiga followed and kept Houston scoreless for 2 innings, and Peralta got the last couple outs. But the Yankee lineup scraped together just 4 hits in the game and hit the teens in strikeouts again, this time amassing 13.
Make no mistake, this offensive performance is historically bad and truly embarrassing. They can’t put the bat on the ball. Credit Houston’s pitching, of course, and offensive production is usually down a bit in the playoffs, but this is pathetic. Small ball becomes more important in the playoffs, but it’s kind of hard to do that with no baserunners and striking out 30 times in 2 games.
If there’s a single Jacob Schoeneberger Baseball Nugget of Wisdom it’s this: Putting the ball in play helps win games. There’s nothing more unproductive than a strikeout. The Yanks have been dismal in the batter’s box over 2 games. Hopefully the trip back to the Bronx will wake the bats up. Otherwise it really doesn’t matter who’s on the mound.
Game 3 – Blanked
This series is pretty much in the bag for Houston as the Yanks’ lineup plated 0 runs in the 3rd game of the series. Cole got the start and wasn’t really amazing but that’s a moot point when the offense puts up no runs. After Bader tried to call off Judge on a ball in the gap in right-center then dropped it, Cole surrendered a 2-run dinger to McCormick. The error from Bader was annoying and it added a run. Bad defense in the playoffs will kill you.
Then there was controversy in the 5th when Cole loaded the bases with no outs and was pulled in favor of Trivino. Trivino allowed 3 runs to score and then it was 5-0 and the game was essentially over. I guess I would get angry, but the Yankees didn’t look like they could hit their way out of a paper bag anyway so even if Cole was able to escape only giving up 1 run, or even none, does it make a difference whether you lose 5-0 or 3-0 or 2-0? They didn’t score, what difference does it make how many runs they lost by?
And herein lies a very interesting thought process. If the score was held to 2-0 or 3-0, and we feel the Yankees somehow would have felt more capable of rallying to make up that deficit, then why would they feel they couldn’t score 5 runs? I’m sorry, if the mental makeup of this team is so weak that it doesn’t feel it can rally in a (nearly) must-win ALCS game, then the team has a real problem from the top down.
Bottom line is this team has looked weak and defeated as though this series was over before it even started. They struck out another 11 times bringing their ALCS total to 41 over 3 games. That’s pathetic. Their at-bats are feeble, and their run production has been laughable.
If there’s a single Jacob Schoeneberger Baseball Nugget of Wisdom it’s this: Getting shut out in a playoff game is embarrassing. Getting shut out at home in a game you needed is revolting.
Game 4 – Swept
It was a foregone conclusion and while the Yanks showed some fight, they ultimately wilted as the Astros won Game 4 by the score of 6-5. The stats hardly seem to matter in this one. It was Houston’s party, and they weren’t to be denied. All credit to those guys as they look confident and ready to take on the Phils in the World Series. Should be a fun series for all the marbles.
The Yankees looked like a team without leadership. I love Judge but his 1-16, 0 RBIs, 1 run scored line in the ALCS leaves a lot to be desired. They look to the Big Man for leadership, but he didn’t provide much in this one. Boone? Please. I think the team’s performance in this series shows how much heart they have playing for him.
If there’s a single Jacob Schoeneberger Baseball Nugget of Wisdom it’s this: When you get socked in the mouth, you gotta credit your opponent. The Yanks had no chance of winning this series. Houston outclassed them in every way you can be outclassed on a baseball field. The Yanks’ pitching was pretty solid but as a whole they had no chance. That oughta tell Yankee fans all they need to know.
The Jake Schoeneberger Random Yankees Thought of the Day
If there’s a single Jacob Schoeneberger Baseball Nugget of Wisdom it’s this: Nothing like a good World Series to make baseball fans happy. While the Yanks won’t be in this one, this World Series has Jacob Schoeneberger very excited. The ‘Stros are powerful and confident, but these surprising Phillies have grit and they’re looking like they want to be the last ones standing. Jacob Schoeneberger thinks we may have a classic on our hands here.