Second Half Expectations, Should There Be Any for the Locals

It was late March and there was high expectations for the Yankees and Mets. There was a buzz in New York about two teams having the tools to play deep baseball in October, perhaps another Subway World Series.

Months later as the second half of the season begins Friday, all of that buzz and anticipation has fizzled. Yankees have 71 games remaining while the Mets have 72 games left and playoff aspirations are difficult to comprehend with two of the highest salaried teams in baseball.

Then again, this is baseball and a 162 game season. Three wild cards in both leagues so anything is possible as witnessed last year with the NL Wild Card, a Phillies team seeded last, making their run to the World Series. The Yankees stand the better chance and the Mets need a great run to reach October with a rapidly approaching July 31 trade deadline.

I don’t want to be a skeptic and you never are with two New York baseball teams, but the first half of disappointment leads to the opinion of looking forward to the Jets and Giants and their Super Bowl pitch. Basically, lack of consistency and any number of other obstacles will make it difficult for October baseball in New York.

The obstacles:

  • Yankees: 49-42, 4th AL East, 8 games behind first place Tampa Bay. Currently trail final AL Wild Card Spot by one game behind Toronto and Houston for final AL Wild Card

  • Mets: 42-48, 4th NL East,18.5 behind first place Braves. 7.0 behind five other teams for final NL Wild Card

Though the Yankees have a better chance, a majority of their remaining games are on the road. And then there is this:

  • Offense 28th in batting average (.231), 26th in on-base percentage (.300) 19th in runs (400).

Blame the loss of Aaron Judge and a toe injury, still to be determined when he returns. Blame the lack of production from Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, DJ LeMahieu, and so many more up-and-down the lineup. The lineup is not playing to what the back of their baseball cards say.

Gleyber Torres leads in hits (84), runs (50), slugging (.413) and 36 RBI lead the team without Judge (40), who hasn’t played in over a month, providing more fodder to understand why the supposed to be potent Yankees are underachieving.

If anything, the Yankees are in the Wild Card hunt based on a fourth best pitching staff ERA (3.80), an MLB best bullpen featuring Clay Holmes, Michael King, Wandy Peralta, and Ron Marinaccio. Each have multiple wins, holds, and saves with an ERA of 3.15. Add in 14.2 innings of scoreless ball that Tommy Kahnle has since returning from the injured list.

But it will take more than the consistent pitching for the Yankees to make their run, although not miles away from a Wild Card spot. A balanced schedule shows six more head-to-head meetings with the Rays, including three in the Bronx, July31-August 2. Chances are the Rays will not crumble, and the Yankees also have to surpass the Orioles in the standings.

And any sense of momentum was stopped in the Bronx last week when the Yankees took the first two from the Orioles and ended with a four-game series split.

Numerous times in the Bronx, where the Yankees have always depended on their home run tenacity, with 43,000 fans behind them, the Yankees have come up short. They hit and don’t pitch, pitch and don’t hit, and consistency is not their mojo.

Perhaps new hitting coach Sean Casey will change that mojo. Perhaps not. GM Brian Cashman is never shy at the trade deadline to try and add some depth. Regardless, no Judge and the Yankees offense will continue to struggle, even with rookie Anthony Volpe improving and learning on the job every game.

Basically, I don’t expect the Yankees to thrive on momentum and compile a long winning streak that would separate them from others in the Wild Card chase. Wild card chances, though, are realistic because there are three spots (in reality, there are two spots because the loser of the AL East, either Tampa or Baltimore will likely be the first AL WC) and manager Aaron Boone has never backed down from a good fight.

And those Mets, the $364 million payroll and the luxury tax. All-stars not playing as the numbers say on the back of their baseball card that could result in the moniker of the historic best team money can buy and not get to October. If it’s any consolation, the Padres are another NL failure with the high payroll.

A Mets pitching rotation of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, Cy Young winners and future Hall of Famers, was expected to be dynamic but has not become that one-two punch that would be difficult to beat. I was not or ever was in favor of signing a 40-year old Verlander to a tune of $43 million, obviously the lack of command shows age has taken a toll.

A rotation with many questions. Can Carlos Carrasco and Kodai Senga pitch beyond six innings on a consistent basis. If David Peterson was consistent, the bullpen outcomes could have been different.

But all went sour with the bullpen, All-star closer Edwin Diaz was lost for the season because of a freak World Baseball Classic celebration injury, and of course I have never been a supporter of the WBC being played prior to the season.

New York Mets relief pitcher Jeff Brigham leaves the mound after hitting Philadelphia Phillies’ Trea Turner with the bases loaded, giving the Phillies the lead, during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, June 25, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

A bullpen of blunders, fourth from the bottom in ERA. Manager Buck Showalter relied too much on Adam Ottavino and David Robertson to finish the job and there were multiple blown saves.

Too many instances of a win ending with a loss and this one stands out:

  • Braves 13,Mets 10, June 8: First time in franchise history the Mets lost three consecutive games after leading by three or more runs.

Like the Yankees, it’s hit and no pitching-pitching and no hitting. A constant lack of momentum and consistency to sustain a winning streak. The first half ending with a six-game winning streak and dropping the last two in San Diego, symbolic of 2023.

Positives: Rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez and Francisco Lindor, who is not hitting for average but driving in runs. Second half questions, are the Mets buyers or sellers at the deadline?

Regardless, a Mets team that will continue to struggle with a bunch of home games at Citi Field, hoping to give disappointed fans something to cheer about in September. I expect the trend of losing to continue and getting to .500 is the task before thinking of any NL Wild Card aspirations.

Disappointing, for sure. Expectations of a good second half are better in the Bronx. When thinking of October, turn your attention to the NFL and look at rebuilds for next year.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter @Ring786 Facebook,com/Rich Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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