Every year in October, when each team goes 0-0 and the postseason begins, everyone involved has the same theoretical bite at the World Series apple.

Winning the World Series is a huge feat, which is why it’s so important to make the playoffs in the first place and be in a position to take that bite. But for the Yankees, those bites at the apple proved to be rotten after the last game of the World Series, in which they made the playoffs ten empty-handed.

Their quest, just like every team trying to crack the crazy code that rarely rewards the best team of the regular season, is to make sure they enter the biggest time of the year ready to bite the chompers.

“You’re trying to build yourself up as much as you can, you’re trying to train them and prepare as best you can to best suit the opportunity you have,” manager Aaron Boone said at the end. – Season press release. “That’s all I can tell you.”

Injuries in the second half of the 2022 Yankees made a huge difference between their 57-24 record (.704 winning percentage) before the All-Star break and 42-39 (.519) since. Injuries kept key players such as DJ LeMahieu, Andrew Benintendi, Michael King, Ron Marinaccio and Scott Efros from appearing in a season game, Anthony Rizzo, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes and Giancarlo Stanton cut short regular-season tunes and left Matt Carpenter. Clay Holmes and Frankie Montas are still clearly hurt when the postseason rolls around.

“It’s not ideal,” Boone said of his team’s time in the training room. “In the first half we had that overall good health and consistency. Unfortunately, we had to try some things on the fly in the postseason. That’s not always ideal, but sometimes it’s necessary. You obviously want to join what got you there.

Boone said the Yankees have been putting together a makeshift lineup for every game of the season, rather than being in a good position to hold back first-half starters. An injury to relievers Aaron Hicks kept him out of the Houston series entirely, further depleting the roster, and injuries to Repen forced Jameson Taillon and Clark Schmidt into unspectacular relief jobs that ultimately didn’t go well.

“We have teams that make the postseason almost every year,” Brian Cashman said after the bombs were dropped. “This year’s special teams, we were depleted going into the postseason, we had a lot of injuries. The record [down the stretch] It doesn’t reflect his talent. He’s done a lot of damage to the roster going into the second half and the postseason.”

While all of that is true, the fact of the matter is that even with a clean bill of health, the Yankees needed players to perform at 90 percent to overcome the championship series hurdle. With the likes of Carpenter, Jose Trevino and Gleyber Torres — key parts of his first season — returning to varying degrees in October, the Yankees became a force to be reckoned with for the Astros. As Cashman said, returning key players at the right time doesn’t mean a whole lot if they don’t play well.

“We were also trying to get closer in the postseason,” Cashman recalled. “In Matt Carpenter, we were giving a guy who hadn’t played in two months a bat. It happened. It’s all on deck, but obviously we weren’t on the list of what you know what you’re going to get. The list, in certain places, changed to audit or curiosity. We’ll give it a shot and see where it takes us. Hope for the best.’

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The easiest way to make sure the best comes is to make some better backup plans. There were attempts to be as stupid as possible for the Benintendi, Efros and Montas trades, and injuries always come in unpredictable random dashes, but some overall depth would certainly help. Hicks was previously benched after Benintendi arrived and before he injured himself. He hit .176 with a .526 OPS from Aug. 1 through the end of the regular season, and was viewed by many as a direct liability during the playoffs.

Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza are primed for bright futures, but have been asked to fill a void that begs for a skilled and proven player who hasn’t arrived. Tim Locastro and Marwin Gonzalez were no burgers. Truly elite teams (think Astros and Dodgers) have talent coming in from all over, whether it’s the depth of the farm system, a savvy outfield pickup, or players 21st through 26th on the roster, all of whom seem to come up with big plays.

Perhaps having Benintendi and Lemahieu in the field would have created some frustrating depth for opponents to deal with, and if Carpenter had been a pinch hitter resting instead of putting more pressure on his injured leg, his bats might have looked. better than.

But this year’s bite of the apple wasn’t terribly convincing, and if a few things had gone differently against Cleveland, it could have knocked the Yankees in the teeth in four or five games.

“You try and build a roster that goes into a season — and you fly through a season, obviously at the trade deadline — it’s hard to get it right,” Boone observed. “There’s always an unknown that can come up, especially in those last couple of months and months of the year.”

Cashman added: “I have to give credit to the team of players involved for being the first team.” “Clay Holmes, for example, is someone who says, ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to help,’ but we don’t know what the outcome will be. Carp, same thing. Those are the kind of guys, if we can get them right, they give us the best chance. I think that’s why we finally got that second half record.

The sobering truth for the Yankees over the past decade and change is that there’s nothing wrong with their bite at the apple. There is no magic formula that leads to cracking at the right time. A cocktail of bad injury chances and ill-timed swings doomed this season, but worst of all, the Yankees just weren’t good enough for a real excuse.

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