5 things the Yankees need to do in the second half to become a World Series contender

12 July 2023

The Yankees have their work cut out for them as they begin the second half of the season Friday night in Colorado. The Bombers’ many flaws were put on display throughout the first half of the season as they entered the All-Star break sitting one game outside the AL Wild Card picture.

Granted, there have been some significant injuries — especially with superstar Aaron Judge (toe) being out since June 3 — that have changed the season for the worse.

However, with a payroll just under $280 million (second in baseball behind the Mets) nobody is feeling bad for Aaron Boone’s Yankees as they go through a bit of adversity with their season hanging in the balance over the next handful of weeks.

If the ship doesn’t get righted with the hopeful return of their captain, the Yanks could find themselves out of the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Here are five things the Yankees need to do in the second half of the season to get back on track:


The Yankees’ carousel of “left fielders” hasn’t been easy on the eyes. Oswaldo Cabrera (204) and Isiah Kiner-Falefa (149.2) have registered the most innings in left field this season.

The issue here is that they’re both career infielders.

While Kiner-Falefa has received praise for adjusting to his super-utility role, it’s clear to an even untrained eye that he is not a natural outfielder and fails to make the routine play more often than an MLB outfielder should.

The metrics agree as the 28-year-old ranks 57th (-5) in defensive runs saved and 49th in Outs Above average (-2) amongst left fielders who have registered at least 100 innings.

It’s not just Kiner-Falefa and Cabrera, though, as not a single left fielder owns a positive OAA on the roster and only Billy McKinney has a positive DRS with 2. Offensively, the bunch has been just as bad as they have combined to hit .226 with an 84 WRC+.

Left must be figured out as the Yanks can ill-afford to continue to have negative impacts on both sides of the ball in the second half.


The nightly shuffling of the lineup card isn’t helping an offense that already ranks 28th in batting average, 26th in on-base percentage and 21st in OPS.

In fairness to Boone, there have been a plethora of injuries that have caused some maneuvering with different bodies seemingly every week. However, the one thing he can control is staying consistent at the top.

While he did go 0-for-11 in his brief return to the leadoff spot in the week before the All-Star break, Anthony Volpe should just be given the keys to igniting this offense to establish some sort of consistency.

Since the infamous chicken parm dinner with Austin Wells on June 12, the shortstop is hitting .306 with four homers and an OPS of .906. And during that recent 0-for-11, the 22-year-old was hitting the ball on the nose registering six hard-hit balls — according to FanGraphs — in the 11 at-bats suggesting some bad fortune.

Volpe clearly seems to be the Bombers’ lead-off hitter of the future and that should probably start now on a consistent basis.


The Yankees entered this season with World Series hopes built largely on their starting pitching. The rotation led by Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes and Frankie Montas would be a nightmare to their opponents on a nightly basis, at least that was how it was supposed to go.

Fast forward to July and four of them have spent significant time on the injured list with some underperformance to unthinkable levels.

Luis Severino owns a 7.38 ERA in nine starts this season after his first didn’t come until May 21 against the Cincinnati Reds when he returned from a lat injury.

Unless new-hitting coach Sean Casey is a miracle worker, you can’t expect the offense to suddenly turn from league-worst to league-best and Boone can’t continue to rely on his high-leverage bullpen arms every single night.

Therefore the pitching has to throw to expectations, including a turnaround from Severino.

Also, it the Yanks still have plans of making a run in October, they’re going to need someone to establish themselves as a Game 3 starter. The pinstripers have to hope pitching coach Matt Blake still has some magic left in his wand.


There has been some dead weight on Brian Cashman’s roster, however, none more disappointing than what has gone on over at the hot corner.

Josh Donaldson is slashing .152/.232/.465 while two-time batting champ DJ LeMahieu is down at .220/.285/.367. The veterans have struggled mighty dating back to last season.

The Yanks can’t afford to continue to hope one day these guys break through especially being one-game behind a playoff spot.

LeMahieu is under contract through 2026, so they almost have no choice to bet on him in some capacity whether that be a utility bench role or continue to run him out at third base.

Donaldson is a free agent at the end of this season. If his struggles continue, showing him the door in Aaron Hicks DFA-fashion would be warranted. This also would free up a spot for youngster Oswald Peraza who continues to put together a strong Triple-A season (.860 OPS in 43 games).


Of the three AL East teams in front of them in the playoff picture, the Yankees have the easiest remaining strength of schedule, according to Tankathon.com.

The opponents winning percentage the rest of the way for Boone’s squad is .502 with 71 games remaining.

Toronto (.509), Baltimore (.511) and Tampa (.512) all have a bit more work cut out for them in the opposing dugout.

Just one game separates the Yanks and the Jays for the final AL Wild Card spot. What seems like nit-picking could become crucial down the stretch.


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