By Lenn Robbins
From the moment the trade deadline came and went and the Yankees did nothing to bolster their pitching, the narrative coming from the front office went something like this: We’ve got some guys coming back from injury that will help us.
One of those players returned Thursday night and the results were frighteningly playoff awful.
Jonathan Loaisiga got lit up by the Cleveland Indians in a 19-5 Yankees loss. By the time Loaisiga entered the game, the Yankees already were in the soup. One-inning starter/reliever Chad Green didn’t even last an inning, giving up two home runs in just one-third of an inning.
Enter Loaisiga. He gave up four earned runs on another two home runs.
Loaisiga’s performance was understandable. He’s been on the injured list since May 8th with a right shoulder strain. Maybe he’ll be better in his next outing. Maybe not.
Maybe the Yankees will get back Luis Severino. Maybe not.
Maybe they’ll get back Dellin Betances. Maybe not.
Severino (right shoulder) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session, using all of his pitches. Betances (right shoulder impingement) also threw a bullpen session. If they can return, both will certainly need a few outings to gauge their playoff readiness. There are 39 games left.
For Yankees fans, this loss brought back nightmares of that late-July stretch against the Twins and Red Sox when the pitching got blown up. That was prior to the July 31 trade deadline. This was after. The Indians scored their 19 runs on 24 hits, seven of which were home runs.
While the Dodgers, Yankees and Astros are considered the favorites to win the World Series, the Indians are a legitimately dangerous team; exactly the kind of team that could take out the Yankees in the ALDS or ALCS.
The Yankees (81-42) have shown remarkable depth and resiliency but they haven’t been tested the way the Indians have. Cleveland (73-49), once trailed the Twins by 11 and one-half games in the AL Central. Those teams now are in a virtual tie for the division lead.
The Indians starting pitching is so deep they felt confident trading Trevor Bauer (who the Yanks had eyes on) to the Reds. In return, they got Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes – instantly upgrading their lineup – and lefthanded pitcher Logan Allen.
Puig went 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Reyes went 2-for-6. The Indians are optimistic they’ll get Corey Kluber (broken forearm) back soon. They also might get Carlos Carrasco (leukemia).
But the Indians made moves before the deadline, making them a better squad. So did the Astros (Zack Greinke). Even the Dodgers acquired lefty sidearm reliever Adam Kolarek, who could be the kind of thrower that becomes a postseason star.
The Yankees made no moves. Maybe Severino, Betances and Loaisiga will return and round into form before the calendar reads, “October.” Right now, it’s looking like maybe not.
NOTES: Pete Alonso became just the third rookie in Mets history to drive in six runs in a game in the team’s 10-8 win over the Braves. He also tied Cody Bellinger’s National League rookie record of 39 home runs set in 2017. That record is falling like the stock market.