The Yankees are in their most important regular season stretch in quite some time. With nine games to go against three teams they have struggled with all season long, the Yankees are in no place to give their best players a day off.
Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez have struggled all year, but the Yankees are, at least publicly, fine with them. It's safe to assume they are going to get the bulk of the innings at second and behind the plate, respectively.
Upon almost being traded after the acquisition of Rizzo, the 2020 home run leader took advantage when his replacement got COVID, and stayed hot when he was the DH upon Rizzo's return. In 18 games (15 starts) from Aug. 8 to Aug. 28, Voit hit .310 (18-for-58) with a 1.005 OPS.
But in the Yanks' last 23 games, Voit has started just 10. With inconsistent at-bats, Voit has struggled mightily (.167/.286/.405).
The Yankees have favored an outfield of Gallo, Gardner, and Judge from left to right, Stanton at DH, Rizzo and first, and Voit on the bench, with some exceptions.
With Gardner's offensive output for most of the second half -- as previously mentioned -- along with his defense, that was justified. In 49 games from July 18 to Sept. 17, Gardner had an OPS of .838, as compared to just .600 in his previous 77.
Gardner turned it around, which was necessary for a team that lacked any fright from the left side of the plate before the trade deadline. But now, he is 2 for his last 17.
Small sample sizes are unfair, and it's probably unfair for Gardner to ride the pine because of five games. But Gardner also had a .747 OPS in 49 games last yea. So for 126 consecutive games dating back to 2020, his bat has been a liability.
Let's face it, while Gardner's two-month stretch was awesome and was definitely needed, it was also very surprising, and that isn't sustainable for the 38-year-old. Meanwhile, we've seen what Voit can do with the bat as recently as last month.
Gardner is not one who will take a severe nosedive due to inconsistent at-bats, like Voit has proven to over the last several weeks. No matter what, Gardner will work counts (among players with 400+ PA's, Gardner's 4.57 pitches seen per PA is the most in baseball).
The matchups this weekend favor New York -- the Yankees are avoiding Chris Sale, and instead are facing righty Nick Pivetta on Saturday and lefty Eduardo Rodriguez on Sunday (combined 4.95 ERA).
Voit hits just .227 against righties (.263 against lefties), but his OPS against right-handers is actually four points higher -- he slugs better against righties, and has a much better walk rate against lefties.
Gardner against righties? .211, .693. Lefties? .247, .653.
The numbers clearly favor Voit offensively. The Yankees should hope he can run into one or two on Friday (against Nathan Eovaldi) and Saturday, and let that keep rolling into Sunday -- and hopefully beyond.
Would it be nice to have an extra lefty in the lineup? Sure. But Rizzo and Gallo clearly have had a benefit on Judge and Stanton -- if those two stay hot, the Yankees have the advantage.
When Voit is hot, he's one of the best sluggers in the game. Gardner's best, which isn't even close to Voit's, has probably come and gone.
But more importantly, when Voit is the DH, Stanton is in right, and Gardner is on the bench, the Yankees' offense is at its best (Stanton slashes .309/.369/.702 as an outfielder. They might want to keep that going), and the defense doesn't take that much of a hit.
If Voit has a bad series at Fenway Park, then the Yankees do have a decision to make.
But for now, the Yankees need their best team out there every day, and Luke Voit undoubtedly gives them that.