New York Yankees: After Tampa Bay series, this has to be rock bottom, right?

The New York Yankees stink. There are no other ways to describe the current state of the franchise. Even with a lead turned over to their bullpen, the Yankees could not win a rubber match against Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon, instead losing 7-4 to drop the series. Things are so bad currently that Brandon Lowe called them a last-place team … which is not wrong, but should enrage the team and fanbase alike.

But wait, it gets even worse for the New York Yankees

The Yankees have won one series since July. One series. Against the Kansas City Royals, a team speeding towards 100 loses. Yet, the Royals have won more series in that timespan than the Yankees.

The team showed about as much fight in a benches-clearing “incident” in the eighth inning as they have in the second half.

Obviously, there was no intention in that spot to drill Arozarena. Albert Abreu simply does not have pinpoint command. But, given the number of hit by pitches this weekend, and the unknown status of Yandy Diaz’s forearm, tempers flared nonetheless. Abreu is scattershot at best, and the fact that he was called upon to keep the deficit at two runs exemplifies the sorry state of the Yankees in 2023.

Injuries are partially to blame, and when a team loses their top player for over a month, in this case Aaron Judge (thanks a lot Dodgers), reinforcements are needed from other spots. Instead, Giancarlo Stanton has turned in his worst season of his career, and the likes of Billy McKinney, Jake Bauers, Willie Calhoun, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa had been tasked with spelling Judge. Had he stayed healthy and produced at the same rate, Judge would again be entrenched in the MVP conversation.

Just three players have registered an fWAR above 2.0 (Judge, Gleyber Torres, Anthony Volpe), with Kyle Higashioka and Harrison Bader closing in. DJ LeMahieu has been better of late, with a .966 OPS and four home runs in August. Still, this is a far cry from LeMahieu in 2019 and 2020, when he finished in the top five of MVP voting in both years.

Outside of Gerrit Cole and Clarke Schmidt (to an extent), the starting pitching has been a disaster. Luis Severino looks borderline unpitchable, Nestor Cortes was bad when healthy, and Carlos Rodon has been shaky after missing the first few months of the season. On Sunday, Rodon was solid, surrendering two runs in 4.2 innings with seven strikeouts. Still, Rodon has nearly matched Severino in fWAR (-0.5 to -0.7), not exactly someone you want to pay over $27 million to.

The bullpen, a presumed strength, has been more lucky than good, pitching to an ERA nearly 0.70 points below their FIP. Something is bound to change in that department, and not for the better. In Win Probability Added, the Yankees’ bullpen ranks just 12th in the league, compared to fifth last season.

So where do we go from here? The albatross that is the Josh Donaldson contract is up after this season, freeing up some much needed salary room. Still, with arbitration projections, the Yankees may be approaching the $300 million payroll threshold for 2024. Is a selloff coming, or will Hal Steinbrenner relent on his self-imposed salary restrictions? Some serious changes are needed to avoid a repeat of 2023 next season.