Matt Carpenter revitalizes Yankees Heading into All-Star Break
The first half of the New York Yankees 2022 season is now in the books. The Yankees ended a streak of turbulent play with a 2–1 series win against the Boston Red Sox. After dropping the first game, the Bronx Bombers rebounded with back-to-back double-digit wins: 14–1 in Game One and 13–2 in Game Two, respectively. Aaron Judge was able to snap out of his recent slump with two home runs in game two followed by two singles and an RBI in game three to help seal the series. Judge ends the first half with a franchise record-tying 33 home runs before the All-Star Break and looks to break Roger Maris’ team- and AL-record 61 home runs. While Judge remains the center stone of the Yankees, the story of this series was Matt Carpenter. Carpenter, since signing with the Yankees, is playing at a historic level; one that can only be compared to a prime Barry Bonds.
Matt Carpenter has been a revelation for the Yankees. With trade rumors intensifying and reports that the Yankees are looking for another outfielder, Carpenter has played himself into a position where starting him in the outfield during a playoff game is a viable option.
Carpenter, who is a former five-year senior and 13th-round draft pick, is not unfamiliar with adversity. After a rough three seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Carpenter enlisted the help of numerous hitting coaches and former teammate Matt Holliday to revitalize his swing to try and recreate his all-star form. In 79 at-bats with the Yankees Carpenter is slashing an incredible .354/.469/.911 accompanied by a 1.380 OPS and 13 home runs (Carpenter only had seven the past two seasons). To say Matt Carpenter has outplayed expectations would be the understatement of understatements. This is not only a great story for the Yankees but a great story for baseball. Carpenter will look to keep up his torrid pace in the second half and contribute to a Yankee World Series run.
Yankee MVP: Matt Carpenter
There wasn’t really any other option. Matt Carpenter led the way this series going 5-for-11 with two walks, two homers, and a team-leading 10 RBI. Seven of which came in game two and were the result of two massive three-run homer-runs. Not only does Carpenter rake, but his ability to work the strike zone and increase the pitch count of opposing pitchers have an everlasting impact each time through the order (Sees 4.74 pitches per plate appearance). Carpenter has brought great vibes to the clubhouse and Yankees fans hope he keeps up the dynamic run he’s on in the second half.
LeMachine was in vintage form this series with a team-leading seven hits from the leadoff spot. DJ was peppering the ball all over the field and setting the tone for the rest of this Yankees lineup. LeMahieu is ending the first half with a commendable .786 ops but looks to get back to his 2019 season form and get into the .800s. Being one spot in front of MVP candidate Aaron Judge, when LeMahieu is getting on base at an elite rate it only makes this lineup that much more terrifying for opposing pitchers.
Judge ends the sneaky slump he was on with a bounce-back series against Boston. Highlighted by a two home run performance in game two, Judge finishes the series with five hits accompanied by four RBI. Judge also tied Roger Maris’ Yankee record for most home runs before the break with 33. With free agency looming, hitting 60 home runs would be the leverage that will allow Judge to potentially become the highest-paid position player in major league history.
The only way to face your demons is to go right through them. In Game Three, Cole vanquished one of his demons in Rafael Devers. Cole has historically struggled against Devers, but on this Sunday afternoon, Cole had the upper hand. He struck out the lefty All-Star twice, finishing the day with seven innings pitched and 12 punchies to boot. While Cole always seems to have one mistake pitch that dampers his outings, he’s been by far the best pitcher on the staff during this recent stretch. The Yankees are going to need him to carry the load while the rest of the staff fixes their issues. And come October the Yankees are going to need Cole to be the ace they paid for.
Welcome back Jamo, good to have you back. Jameson Taillon has had a rough stretch of starts after a stellar beginning to the season. In Game Two, it looked bleak when Devers hit a first-inning bomb to open up the scoring, followed by a Xander Bogaerts single. But from that point on Taillon did not allow another baserunner for the remainder of his start. He finished with a final line of six innings, five strikeouts, and zero walks. The Yanks are hopeful Jamo returns to his early season form and will be a dependable arm come October.
The Yankees head into the All-Star Break with the best record in the majors. But the Yanks are not without their faults. Look for the Yankees to address some of these faults at the approaching trade deadline. Reports say they are looking for another outfield bat, which would mean goodbye to Joey Gallo. The Yanks also need more starting and relief pitching. The Luis Castillo start against the Yankees last week might be a preview of what’s to come. Down in Scranton, Oswald Peraza has been dominating in Triple-A, while IKF has continued to be streaky at the plate and with the glove. Don’t be surprised to see a call-up for the 22 year-old prospect. The Yankees are already really good, but with how competitive the Houston Astros and the other top teams in the National League are, the Yankees need to improve. This window for a World Series run is now, and their moves at the trade deadline need to reflect that.