Before we get to last night, let’s start by taking a look at the last paragraph of yesterday’s column: “As for tonight’s game, the incomparable Max Scherzer will take the mound for the Mets while the Yankees will counter with Domingo German who is making his 2nd start of the year. Without Stanton (who is the most important presence in the Yankees lineup other than Judge) and King to eat up innings, this game should be easy work for the Metropolitans so long as Scherzer can give them 6 solid innings. The Yankees aren’t spiraling just yet, but if they lose tonight Brian Cashman may be forced to look at this team as presently constructed and forced to make a move for another starting pitcher and outfielder. When these 2 teams meet in August things may look different, but for now I’d expect the Mets to sweep this series and be not only the Kings of Queens, but the Kings of New York.”
A lot of this came to fruition. Here's the high level recap:
Max Scherzer went 7 strong innings giving up 0 earned runs. Scherzer brings the intensity of the playoffs every single time he takes the mound and last night was no different. Scherzer pitched out of any potential jams and was the most valuable player on the field last evening. The Mets bullpen proceeded to give up 2 quick runs thanks to a Gleyber Torres blast but Seth Lugo righted the ship and put an end to any Yankees momentum.
Domingo German didn’t pitch terribly (4.2 innings, 2 earned runs) but because he was only making his second start of the season the Yankees were predictably forced to turn the game over to their bullpen early. This resulted in All-Star closer Clay Holmes entering the game in 8th, which of course led to Wandy Peralta entering the game in the 9th and taking the loss. With Michael King available, manager Aaron Boone would have been able to stretch the bullpen out further which may have given the Yankees a better chance. Does every team deal with their share of injuries? Absolutely. But I bring up King for a reason – more on that in a bit.
Aaron Judge is an incredible talent. Anthony Rizzo has been fantastic this year. Gleyber Torres has bounced back nicely. But I have been steadfast (ask my friends and my wife who hear it all too often) that the key to the Yankees success is Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees went 0-15 with runners in scoring position this series. That’s not beating the Detroit Tigers let alone a team the caliber of the New York Mets. Stanton is the force that eases the load on other players in the lineup and often gives them better pitches to hit. If the Yankees are going to win a World Series this year, they’re going to need a healthy Giancarlo Stanton to do it.
The Mets are now owners of a 3-game winning streak as well as a 3-game lead in the NL East. That’s the good news. The better news? It appears as if Jacob deGrom is ready to make his season debut next week. If deGrom and Scherzer stay healthy, the Mets are a World Series threat as currently constructed. The scary part is that I don’t think they will just sit back at the trade deadline and be complacent. No, I don’t see them going for Juan Soto (I think the St. Louis Cardinals is his ultimate destination with the Seattle Mariners as a dark horse) but I do see them looking to improve, especially building some depth in the bullpen and maybe a DH for some extra offensive firepower.
In terms of the Yankees, not everything was doom and gloom last night. After the game the Yankees announced a trade to acquire All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi of the Kansas City Royals. Benintendi is a fantastic pickup. He’s a high average, low-strikeout hitter, and while he’s not a huge power threat, he’s exactly what this iteration of the Yankees lineup needs. On top of what he offers offensively, he’s a fantastic fielder (won a Gold Glove last season) and can play multiple positions. The Yankees gave up 3 minor league talents in exchange for Benintendi, but no one who fans will be upset about. He’s essentially a half year rental but he’s one the Yankees desperately need. This also means you can read between the lines and anticipate that Joey Gallo will probably either be traded or designated for assignment after the trade deadline.
Are the Yankees done making moves? Absolutely not. Let’s talk about what we can rule out – They just traded for Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and while both have had their ups and downs this season, the Yankees aren’t going to waste trade captial on upgrading those positions. If anything, the Yankees may look to their farm system and give SS Oswald Peraza a shot, who is hitting .328 with 8 home runs in his last 30 games games for the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. That leaves the Yankees looking for what almost all playoff teams are looking for, more pitching. Michael King was such a valuable piece to the bullpen and he leaves a hole that the Yankees need to fill. In addition to the bullpen, the Yankees would be smart to look to acquire a starting pitcher that can fill in for Luis Severino. You can never have enough pitching come playoff time and if you look at any of the teams who have had postseason success the past couple of years, pitching as cliché as it sounds is the key. In terms of the bullpen I’d look for the Yankees to look at the Pirates David Bednar and former Yankee David Robertson of the Cubs. For the rotation the names you will hear will be the Reds’ Luis Castillo, Oakland A’s righthander Frankie Montas, and LHP from the Pirates, Jose Quintana. The window for the Yankees is this year. I think Cashman and ownership both know that. Without any guarantee that Judge will be back next year, the Yankees need to take advantage and acquire as much talent they possibly can.