Cashman on Yanks' slide: 'It’s gone on long enough'

July 9th, 2024

ST. PETERSBURG -- On the morning of June 14, the Yankees woke up in their Boston hotel rooms owning the Majors’ best record (50-22), team ERA (2.94) and mark for runs scored (371), seemingly set to continue flying high atop the American League East.

It was at that point, general manager Brian Cashman said, that “it was like a light switch went one way to the other,” turning the season south. The Bombers dropped that three-game set at Fenway Park and haven’t won one since, arriving at Tropicana Field with an 0-6-1 record across their last seven series.

“It’s been a struggle, obviously,” Cashman said. “Thankfully, we got out of the gates really strong. Hopefully that cushion will allow us to work through this, hopefully sooner than later, because it’s gone on long enough. It’s been a tough stretch for us.”

The Yankees have lost 15 of 20 games entering play on Tuesday, the worst record in the Majors over that span. Only the Rockies (131) have allowed more runs than the Yankees (130), who haven’t won consecutive games since June 9-12.

Though Cashman was already planning a trip to Tampa, Fla., to assist with preparation for the upcoming MLB Draft, he acknowledged that the club’s poor play spurred him to come to the Trop for Tuesday’s series opener.

“You can hit some rough spots, and we’re certainly as rough as they come right now,” Cashman said.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, this summer swoon is no isolated incident. In 2022, they started 61-23 before limping toward the playoffs with a 38-40 record, carried by Judge’s pursuit of Roger Maris’ single-season home run mark. They started 36-25 in 2023, then finished 46-55, missing the postseason altogether.

“I think every year is different,” Cashman said. “I think those teams are different and some of the issues are different.”

To focus on 2024’s concerns, there has been a laundry list, both offensively and defensively. The Yanks’ 6.11 ERA since June 16 is the Majors’ worst, and New York has scored just 20 runs across its last eight losses, going 7-for-46 (.152) with runners in scoring position in those games.

There has been weak production from the Nos. 4-9 spots in the lineup, with the absence of designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton removing a significant power threat. Alex Verdugo’s offense has cooled, and even the trusty top-of-the-order contributors have stalled.

Anthony Volpe (.439 OPS since June 6) was bumped from the leadoff spot in favor of rookie Ben Rice, Juan Soto has just four hits in 22 July at-bats (.182), and Aaron Judge entered play Tuesday with two hits in his last 20 at-bats (.100).

Cashman said that the Yankees plan to be “open-minded to a lot of different things” as the July 30 Trade Deadline approaches. Cashman would not discuss the team’s areas of need, but many are obvious: it lacks a swing-and-miss presence in the bullpen, infielder DJ LeMahieu is batting .194 in 32 games, and second baseman Gleyber Torres has underperformed significantly in a contract year.

“Sometimes those free-agent walk years can come back and haunt you,” Cashman said. “I’m not sure if that added pressure might be weighing him down or holding him back. We just went through that with [Luis Severino] and [Harrison] Bader last year. He’s close to the finish line on going to free agency. … Last year, he was our second-best hitter behind Aaron Judge. We’re anxiously hoping and waiting on that, because I know he could have a really positive impact.”

Torres was recently benched for not running out a ground ball on June 25 against the Mets, and there have been other concerning incidents of late: center fielder Trent Grisham permitted an extra base with a lackadaisical approach to a July 4 hit by Reds infielder Jeimer Candelario, and Volpe jogged home on a July 5 grounder, costing the Yanks a run when LeMahieu was tagged out near second base.

Cashman said that he believes manager Aaron Boone has navigated the Yankees’ slide “as well as he possibly can.” Yet the Yankees have struggled against teams in their own division; they entered play Tuesday three games under .500 against the AL East (13-16), with a 42-21 record against all other opponents.

“We’ve got to be playing better than we currently are right now, as an entire unit,” Cashman said.