Yankees eliminated from postseason contention for first time since 2016: What went wrong for New York

The New York Yankees lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-1 on Sunday, eliminating them from 2023 postseason contention. Here’s what you need to know:

  • It’s the first time the Yankees have failed to make the playoffs since 2016. Their last World Series title came in 2009.
  • With the loss, the Yankees are 78-77 in 2023 with seven games remaining.
  • New York is trying to avoid its first losing season since 1992.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Instant reaction

Now, the fairy-tale talk can end. Maybe we’ll make some magic happen. We have the chance to do something special. No, the Yankees didn’t, and they haven’t since Aaron Judge ran through a wall and Anthony Rizzo got concussed in the same week in the first half. It’s a shame for Yankees fans, who thought this team had a chance at winning a World Series this year only to learn their team might need to overhaul some areas this winter. A week of meaningless baseball ahead in September. Gerrit Cole’s excellence wasted. A sad state of affairs in the Bronx. — Kuty

What a miserable season for the Yankees in which almost nothing went their way. There was immense excitement in the offseason after re-signing Judge to a historic contract and naming him the team’s first captain since Derek Jeter. The Yankees needed more offense in the offseason after their cracks in roster construction were on full display in the postseason, but the front office decided to have too much trust in a flawed team. Perhaps this kind of season will get them to have more full-scale changes that are necessary for the Yankees to get back in the mix. — Kirschner

The worst part of it all

The core isn’t getting any younger. The window is closing, and the Yankees need to find a way to prop it open. Judge will be 32 years old next season. Cole just turned 33. Giancarlo Stanton is playing like an old 33. Carlos Rodón will be 31 next year and he’s coming off yet another injury-plagued season with another five years left on his deal. How are the Yankees going to ensure they’re getting the best from these guys while also filling in the rest of their roster with athleticism and speed? Can they make it happen? — Kuty

The Yankees have many upgrades to make this offseason, particularly on offense, but the market is dry. Outside of Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani, Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger is the best bat available in free agency. Bellinger will have many suitors after him and because of that, his market may reach a number that is unpalatable for the Yankees. Bellinger’s left-handed swing is perfect for Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field, but looking deeper at his advanced numbers (average exit velocity, barrel rate, hard hit percentage) suggests the success he’s seen this season may not be sustainable long term. Fans may roll their eyes at the analytics, but those stats matter to the Yankees. — Kirschner


Giancarlo Stanton: Now what? The Yankees can’t just let Stanton continue to bat in the middle of their order, continue to eat DH at-bats and be unable to run the bases or in the field every day if this is the player he’s been in 2023. To his credit, Stanton has been accountable all season. He described his year as “terrible” and assured fans that he’s working to get himself right. Boone has said the Yankees still see physical characteristics in Stanton that tell them he can still be impactful. They said the same about Josh Donaldson. Next year will be crucial for Stanton. — Kuty

Carlos Rodón: The Yankees signed Rodón to a $162-million contract in the offseason with the hopes of him and Cole becoming the best one-two punch of any starting rotation in the American League. But Rodón missed over half the season as he recovered from a back injury sustained in spring and when he returned, he was mostly ineffective. There are some encouraging signs that Rodón can bounce back if he’s healthy heading into 2024 because his stuff is still there; it’s just a matter of having better command. — Kirschner

Who’s on the hot seat?

Brian Cashman: By no means is this a suggestion that Cashman might lose his job this winter. That doesn’t seem likely. But owner Hal Steinbrenner has said he wants an “outside company” — think along the lines of McKinsey — to assess the Yankees’ baseball operations this offseason. That work will begin the day after the regular season ends. Under close scrutiny will be the front office, and especially the analytics department, which Steinbrenner called out. The Yankees’ medical apparatus should also receive a close examination. The team overhauled its training program in 2020, yet it has finished among the leaders in IL stints each year since. — Kuty

Aaron Boone: The Yankees are not in the spot they find themselves due to Boone’s management, but because he’s going into the final season of his contract, it would be easier to move on from him rather than Cashman if Steinbrenner wanted to make a change to a front-facing position. If no extension is reached this offseason, Boone will be a lame-duck manager next season. And because of how poorly this season has gone, there’s not much justification for giving Boone an extension at this point. — Kirschner

What has to change?

The Yankees are going to need more pitching. Behind Cole is a bunch of question marks, from Rodón to the health of Nestor Cortes, to the viability of Michael King as a starting pitcher for a full season and whether Clarke Schmidt did enough to earn another crack at next year’s rotation. The Yankees have been heavily scouting right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto of Japan. The 25-year-old is expected to get a deal worth as much as $200 million in the offseason. Can the Yankees afford to be outbid? Or could they get creative to find established talent stateside? — Kuty

One of the biggest problems the Yankees have had for a few years running now is their inability to hit right-handed pitching, especially high-velocity fastballs. Going into Sunday’s game, the Yankees had the fourth-worst OPS against righties. While acquiring more lineup balance would be most ideal, just simply getting better players who can hit righties — the overwhelming majority of pitchers teams have — would help the Yankees become a better overall team. — Kirschner

What they’re saying

Judge said Sunday that “There’s a lot that went wrong” this season.

“We could hit it from a lot of different aspects but what it comes down to is we didn’t do our job,” he said. “With the type of lineup we have, the pitching rotation, we just got to show up collectively. I know guys missed time. That always hurts from the rotation and even my standpoint missing all the games I did. That doesn’t help. You’re supposed to be a guy in the middle of the lineup that produces every single night. It’s tough. Every year I’ve been in New York, we’re in the postseason. It’s gonna be a little different this offseason. That’s going to give us more time to get ready for the next one.”

Asked what needs to be fixed before next year, Judge said the team would “keep that in-house.”

“We have a lot of work to do, a lot of internal talks, a lot of stuff we have to figure out to get ready for the next year,” he said. “It’s going to be talking with everybody in the organization, all the way down to the minor leagues and all the way to the top.”

Judge added he plans to play the rest of the season.

“There was talks of stuff getting shut down but I gotta be out there,” he said. “I’m the leader on this team and especially the young guys on the team, you have to show them you have to post even if you’re not feeling good and not feeling great. You have to be out there every single day for your teammates. I’m going to be out there.”

Required reading

(Photo: John Jones / USA Today)

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