Who’s responsible for ugly first half?

The Yankees have been among MLB’s biggest disappointments in the first half. World Series aspirations have turned into the Yankees trying to get back into the wild-card race in the second half, as the Red Sox and Rays take control of the AL East. And just when they seem ready to turn things around, they suffer a disastrous defeat — like Sunday in Houston. Who’s responsible for the subpar showing in The Bronx? Let’s grade it out:

Nestor Cortes: A

The lefty hasn’t pitched much, but he’s pitched well and he provided two important outings late in the first half against the Mets and Houston.

Aaron Judge: A

Judge has been the lone constant in the Yankees’ lineup, providing power and the ability to get on base. Just as importantly, he’s been able to stay on the field, despite dealing with an unspecified lower-body injury.

Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge has remained consistent in the field and in his batting, one of the few players on the Yankees roster who have provided an offensive edge.
for the Gist Vile

Jonathan Loaisiga: A-

The right-hander continues to get better and has been as reliable as any arm in the Yankees’ bullpen. He’s had a pair of brutal outings, but has bounced back and otherwise been dominant, gaining the Yankees’ trust.

Luis Cessa: B+

Once known as an innings-eater out of the bullpen, Cessa has become a more important weapon the last two years.

Chad Green: B+

Green has mostly been terrific. But the few clunkers have been memorable and damaging. He’s now had a pair of brutal outings against Houston and another against Boston. Each helped cost the Yankees games — including the finale of the first half. Otherwise, the right-hander has been superb and been a main reason the bullpen has survived Aroldis Chapman’s meltdown and Zack Britton’s prolonged absence.

Lucas Luetge: B+

The left-hander, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2015, has emerged as a reliable option.

Gerrit Cole: B+

The Yankees’ $324 million ace looked the part in the early going of the regular season, striking out batters at a record pace and building on a strong start to his Yankees career. Then came MLB’s crackdown on sticky substances and Cole became a different pitcher- someone with an ERA north of 5.00. He rebounded with a brilliant, 129-pitch shutout in Houston before the break. How Cole adapts to this new substance-free reality will play a large role in the fate of the Yankees’ season.

Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole has struggled with his consistency since the sticky substance crackdown; however, a 129-pitch shutout against the Astros may hint at a turnaround.
Charles Wenzelberg/Gist Vile

Kyle Higashioka: B

After briefly overtaking Gary Sanchez as the starting catcher, Higashioka has settled back into the backup role. He’s also been behind the plate for Gerrit Cole’s excellent start to the year and ensuing struggles.

Giancarlo Stanton: B

Stanton’s numbers are solid, but not what he produced when he was in Miami. He carried the offense when he was the hottest hitter on the planet in late April and early May, but still goes through too many down times and remains locked at DH.

Gio Urshela: B

He’s not hitting as well as he did in previous seasons, but Urshela has provided some decent offense and has continued to play a superb third base- as well as a pretty good shortstop, when needed.

Michael King: B-

The right-hander has been excellent in long relief, but a disappointment when given the opportunity to start.

Jordan Montgomery: C+

The left-hander has been fine, but the Yankees are still waiting for him to take the next step to a No. 2 starter.

Domingo German
Domingo German has struggled with consistency over the past month, his ERA plummeting.
for the Gist Vile

Domingo German: C

After a tense return from his suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence protocols, German started slowly, but recovered after a trip to the minors and pitched well. But he’s had a disappointing last month.

Rougned Odor: C

The Yankees picked up Odor off the scrap heap and at times, it looks like he’ll never get another hit. But he delivered some big ones in the early going and occasionally shows flashes at the plate.

Gary Sanchez
Gary Sanchez has failed to live up to the hype this season.
Charles Wenzelberg/Gist Vile

Gary Sanchez: C

The streaky Sanchez has lived up to his reputation in the first half. His nightmarish 2020 continued into this season before he broke out in May with a phenomenal stretch. But he finished the first half in a slump. His numbers are OK — especially for a catcher, but the Yankees had higher expectations from a guy that was once one of the premier right-handed hitters in the game.

Miguel Andujar: C-

Other than a stretch in early June when his power briefly returned, it’s been another lost season for Andujar, who doesn’t have a position and can’t stay healthy.

Brett Gardner: C-

The Yankees brought Gardner back to be a fourth outfielder, but injuries to Aaron Hicks and others have forced the 37-year-old to play center field regularly and it’s taken its toll.

DJ LeMahieu
DJ LeMahieu looks nothing like the slugger he was in his first two seasons with the Yankees.
Charles Wenzelberg/Gist Vile

DJ LeMahieu: C-

After signing a six-year, $90 million deal in the offseason, LeMahieu looked nothing like the hitter the Yankees saw during his first two seasons in The Bronx. Some believed he was particularly affected by pitchers’ advanced spin rates and he’s hit better since the crackdown on sticky substances began and his defensive versatility has been helpful again.

Wandy Peralta: C-

The lefty was solid after coming over from San Francisco in exchange for Mike Tauchmna, but less effective lately.

Jameson Taillon: C-

Expected to provide a jolt to the rotation, the right-hander has instead had difficulty adjusting to the new approach he developed in coming back from a second Tommy John surgery, but has been good in three of his last four.

Aroldis Chapman: D

Like Cole, it’s been a tale of two seasons for the closer- although the reason for the collapse is a little less clear. Chapman’s spin rate hasn’t been down that much since MLB’s crackdown, but he’s gone from as dominant a regular season stretch by a closer to completely lost, practically overnight. If the Yankees aren’t able to get Chapman and Cole right, it doesn’t matter what else they do.

Gleyber Torres
The first half of Gleyber Torres’ season has been defined by mistakes.
Charles Wenzelberg/Gist Vile

Gleyber Torres: D

So what was the fluke? The Yankees were hoping it was last year’s miserable season from Torres, but maybe it was his first two seasons in the majors, when he was an All-Star. His power has vanished and he still makes too many mistakes at shortstop.

Luke Voit: D

He’s been unable to stay healthy and hasn’t found his home run stroke.

Deivi Garcia: D-

He wasn’t bad in his one major league appearance this season, but the right-hander’s struggles in the minors have prevented him from being an option in The Bronx.

Clint Frazier: F

Anointed the starting left fielder in the offseason, Frazier lost his job and is now on the IL.

Justin Wilson: F

Signed in the offseason, the veteran lefty has been awful.

Aaron Hicks: Incomplete

The injury-prone Hicks is lost for the season again.

Corey Kluber: Incomplete

The right-hander was pitching well when he went down with another shoulder injury and his no-hitter in Texas was among the Yankees’ only highlights of the first half.

Darren O’Day: Incomplete

Had up and down results before going down with a rotator cuff injury and then a strained hamstring.

Aaron Boone
Manager Aaron Boone has failed to use his talented players and start winning.
Charles Wenzelberg/Gist Vile

Aaron Boone: D

The Yankees insist there is enough talent on the roster to contend, but the fourth-year manager hasn’t been able to tap into it.

Brian Cashman: D

An offseason that included signing Kluber, Gardner, O’Day and Wilson and trading for Taillon has, at best, been a disappointment. And bringing back LeMahieu at that price hasn’t looked good so far.


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