3 reasons Yankees fans should worry about World Series aspirations

The New York Yankees were prohibited World Series favorites not long ago. They were on a near record pace early on this season, and were consistently crushing teams. The offense was loaded with boppers throughout the lineup. The bullpen was naughty and the starting rotation was utterly dominant. Boy, how things can change.

After Sunday’s loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Yankees have fallen five games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The once huge lead in the American League is now down to just a half game over the hated Houston Astros.

This should be very concerning for the Yankees and their fans. Here are the three reasons New York fans should be worried about their midseason slump.

3 Reasons Yankee Fans Should be Concerned about their World Series Aspirations

1. Strength turns into Weakness

As powerful as the Yankees lineup is, it was their pitching that was the key reason for their incredible start. Starting pitchers Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Nestor Cortes, Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino were arguably the best rotation in the majors. That has changed quickly though.

Cole has been hit hard lately and watched his ERA rise to 3.56 after being part of the Cy Young conversation earlier this year. The Yankees ace has allowed 21 home runs this season, with nearly two months left. That’s not good.

Taillon’s production has fallen off a table. The Yankees righty has allowed at least five runs in four of his last eight starts and watched his ERA rise almost two full runs since early June. Montgomery also appeared to have hit a wall, prompting the Yankees to trade him at the deadline. He then shut them out Saturday. Severino, to no one’s surprise, was placed on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

So, what once was the team’s biggest strength has now become a serious concern. That led to New York trading for Frankie Montas at the deadline. In his first start for the Yankees, he allowed six runs in three innings Sunday.

2. Injuries, Consistency with the Bats

The Yankees lineup on paper looks almost as good as any in baseball. But quietly, they have not been very good. They are starting to fall victim of so many failed Yankees teams of the past, relying solely on home runs. They lead the Major Leagues with 185 home runs, 19 ahead of the Atlanta Braves. But as a team, the Yankees are hitting just .244, ranking 14th.

Aaron Judge is having an unbelievable season that’s likely to land him close to a half billion dollars. Yes, I know, I said a half billion dollars.

But I digress.

Giancarlo Stanton has been on the 10-day injured list with an Achilles injury since mid-July. He was crushing the baseball prior to going down with the injury. Stanton has 24 home runs in just 289 at bats. That’s a great power ratio. But what’s lesser known was that his batting average had plummeted to .229 before getting hurt.

Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo has 27 home runs, but is hitting .227.

That aforementioned trade of Montgomery landed the Yankees a veteran in Harrison Bader. The New Yankees outfielder is elite defensively, winning a Gold Glove in 2021 center field for the Cardinals. However, he has been on the injured list since June with plantar fasciitis. Yankees GM Brian Cashman recently admitted they don’t believe he will return until at least September.

Unless New York can figure out a way to get both healthy and hit a bit more consistently, it could be another tough postseason.

3. The Houston Astros

Maybe the biggest concern for the Yankees and their fans should be located in Houston. Yankee Stadium has always had an aura that is intimidating to just about anyone during the playoffs. That’s not the case for the Astros.

Houston has eliminated New York three times since 2015, including the ALCS in 2018 and 2020. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and company will not be threatened walking into that building. Plus, with the way things are going for New York, it’s more likely than not that the Astros will have home-field advantage for that series.

New York was on record pace at 51-18 until they faced Houston.

They are basically .500 since then, including losing five of seven to them.

New York’s schedule is far more imposing than Houston’s. The Blue Jays, Rays and Orioles all are playing very good baseball. The Red Sox are not yet still will always battle with New York and would want nothing more than to spoil their season.

Houston quietly has arguably the best rotation in baseball. Justin Verlander is a shoe-in for the Comeback Player of the Year and is a heavy frontrunner for AL Cy Young. Framber Valdez has 18 consecutive quality starts going back to April. Cristian Javier and Luis Garcia have been very good and Lance McCullers is about to return.

The Yankees have struggled to hit against good pitching this year. Houston poses a very serious problem, once again.

Jacob deGrom, Mets

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