New York Yankees: What happened in the ALCS?

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 12: Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees pitches during Game 1 of the ALCS between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 12, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 12: Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees pitches during Game 1 of the ALCS between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 12, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

It’s yet another disappointing ending for New York Yankees fans as the Bronx Bombers lose to the Astros 4-2 in the ALCS. What’s next for the Yanks?

What happened to the New York Yankees? They won 103 games, dominated the American League with 306 home runs to their credit, and got production from guys they never would have dreamed to get it from in the wake of countless injuries all season. The only thing standing in their way was a long-time foe in the Houston Astros and they came up just short once again.

What went wrong for them in this ALCS and what do they do now moving forward to ensure they don’t lose again at this stage?

The first thing we have to look at is the stinginess of the front office in holding out on signing and trading for certain players, whether it was during last offseason or mid-year this season (and even previous years).

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The DJ LeMahieu signing was one of the best in the entire league, and it was rather surprising more teams didn’t want LeMahieu. but look at the two teams we have in the World Series this year- Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Michael Brantley, Patrick Corbin etc. These are all guys the Yanks could’ve had on their team this season if they pulled the trigger in recent memory.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, back in the day, wanted Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier in a potential Gerrit Cole deal. How did that work out for the New York Yankees?

Then we move to this past offseason where Corbin, Brantley, and even Manny Machado were on the docket to be scooped up. Passing on Machado, in retrospect, might actually work out for them because he would’ve cost way too much and they got enough production this year out of third base and shortstop with Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, and LeMahieu.

But passing on Corbin and Brantley is where I think the Yanks are going to look back and kick themselves over. Brantley is one of the best contact hitters in baseball and Corbin had another great year of 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA for the Washington Nationals, both of which would’ve been more-than-manageable contracts for a big market team like the Yanks.

Then we come to this past July where the Yanks clearly needed starting pitching help but chose to hold steady and roll with the guys they already had on the roster with the hope that Luis Severino would return and give them typical Severino production late in the year.

They finished with a 4.31 team ERA, which was 14th in baseball this year and worst among the eight playoff teams this year. Masahiro Tanaka was great for them this postseason and James Paxton came through with a terrific Game Five performance in the ALCS, but what this team needed the most was length out of their starters, which they did not get from Paxton in Game Two, Severino in Game Three, or even Tanaka in Game Four- which was more of the same of what they got in the regular season.

That, in turn, taxed the bullpen and got Houston acclimated to hitting off the Yankee relievers. We saw the Milwaukee Brewers have that problem last year against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, and we saw it happen again here with the New York Yankees.

So, the unwillingness to add to the pitching staff, and the inability of the starters to go deep in games are the two major reasons the Yanks are going to eb sitting at home come Tuesday.

What also did the Yankees in was the uncharacteristic choking of the lineup, something that did NOT happen all year. This lineup, to its credit, was actually very good this year in putting the ball in play and avoiding the strikeout (something they failed to do in 2018).

The Yanks finished with 1,437 team batting strikeouts on the year, which was the 14th-most in baseball this year (second-worst among the eight playoff teams). By all means, it’s not “great,” but still worlds better than last year and what we expected of them coming into 2019. Aside from the usual strikeout suspects like Aaron Judge, Luke Voit, and Gary Sanchez, this team did very well in putting the ball in play this year.

But unfortunately for them, they turned back to their old ways and fanned 64 times in this ALCS. Edwin Encarnacion went absolutely cold as he went 1 for 18. Brett Gardner‘s 28 regular season home runs didn’t help him as he went 3 for 23. And aside from LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres, this Yankee lineup was effectively shut down by Astros pitching outside of Game One, particularly by the bullpen, which was supposed to be Houston’s weakness.

This was a magical season for the New York Yankees as they dealt with injury after injury and still won over 100 games with one of the best offenses in baseball. But unfortunately, they could not come up when the lights shone the brightest. Their starting pitching didn’t give them enough length. The loss of Domingo German proved to be fatal. And now they have to watch the World Series instead of playing in it.

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What do they need to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again? They need to change up their culture and go back to making big signings and reeling in big trades. They’ve gotten away from that in recent history and they haven’t won that 28th championship because of it.