To say it has been a disappointing season for the New York Yankees would be an understatement. After years of running into the injury bug, the team has found themselves relatively put together. As it stands, the injury-riddled seasons were more successful than the overall healthy ones. That is not to say the team can’t turn it around at any point. The talent is there, but they have become a one-dimensional team and it appears it could get worse before it gets better.
It was one of the worst kept secrets that the majority of pitchers would use Spider Tack or some other type of sticky substance, which has abruptly been put to a halt and seems to have had a pretty drastic effect. To this point, Gerrit Cole hasn’t been an exception. He was rocked by the Boston Red Sox on June 27th, where he gave up five runs, including eight hits and three walks. He was able to pitch well in the prior start against the Kansas City Royals, but it’s been heavily noted that his spin rate has been down and appeared to labor a bit since then.
The numbers and Cole’s resume may suggest that he figures it out at some point, but in a recent interview, he seems to have been panicking a bit himself.
It should be noted that Cole isn’t the only one to express frustrations. The majority of pitchers are speaking their minds and perhaps more than half of baseball fans would express the same opinion. It was such a sudden change made by the league and it gives pitchers very little time to adjust. While Cole shouldn’t be criticized for his frustrations, does this mean he won’t be able to maintain that same success he had with the foreign substance? Since the crackdown, the rest of the rotation and the bullpen has also struggled.
The struggles hit a breaking point on June 30th when the team imploded an 8-4 lead in the top of 9th, beginning with who was arguably the best closer in baseball with Aroldis Chapman surrendering three walks and capping it off with a grand slam. It should be noted that Chapman was beginning to struggle prior to the crackdown, so that could provide a glimmer of hope that he is just in a midst of a rough patch and can turn it around at some point.
It remains to be seen what the future holds, but what was supposed to be strength in the beginning of the season in their offense hasn’t been up to par to this point. Being forced to lean on Cole and the rest of the pitching staff instead, the Yankees have struggled to live up to expectations in that department as well.
Perhaps an alternative for a better grip on the ball can be found and used effectively. Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez recently did a breakdown for the MLB Network on how he would “burn” the rosin on his pants, especially on a hot day. Progressively throughout the game, it would become a sticky substance essentially as good as other substances. We can complain about the rule change all we want, but pitchers must find a way to adapt in the meantime.
The style of play hasn’t held up this season. It is truly a team that lived and died by the home run ball. The one-dimensional way of winning has determined the season and if something doesn’t change soon, the playoffs become a pipe dream. General Manager Brian Cashman may be forced to make some uncomfortable and unpopular decisions moving forward to create some diversity in the lineup.