Before the Yankees entered the postseason, SS Didi Gregorius was mired in a slump. His September numbers were .190/.247/.380 with three homers and 16 RBI over 20 games.
That's not what you want to see heading into October, but when asked about Gregorius before the series against the Twins began, manager Aaron Boone wasn't sweating his shortstop's performance at all.
In fact, he expected Gregorius to step up and be a crucial factor for his club.
"I'm counting on Didi playing a huge role for us," Boone told reporters. "I mean, he struggled here a little bit in this final month but know that it's certainly in there. He's one of those guys I feel like will be better off in this kind of environment and these kind of games. If we're going to go far, Didi's going to play a big role in that."
Oh, how Boone was so right.
Gregorius didn't look like a player breaking out of a slump in these past three games, but rather one whose bat was on fire. In 10 at-bats, he went 4-for-10 including a grand slam in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium that blew that game wide open and two critical RBI singles in Game 3 on Monday night that gave the Yanks lead some padding.
And his glove was just as stellar, especially in the ninth inning in Game 3 when a liner from Jorge Polanco that might have been extra bases with two men already on in a 5-1 game was speared out of the air thanks to a diving grab by the 29-year-old.
Sometimes October baseball brings out the best in players, no matter how they're playing before. Take Masahiro Tanaka for example: his ERA in the second half of this season was 6.05. But through five innings in Game 2, he allowed just one run on three hits while striking out seven to pick up his first win of the postseason.
Players like Gregorius and Tanaka don't worry Boone because he knows they're going to step up when they need it. Gregorius was hitting .308 with runners in scoring position this regular season as well, driving in 48 RBI in those situations. He's made the best of those type of at-bats early on in this postseason, and the Yankees fully expect him to continue that moving forward.
Though it was just three games -- and a tough opponent certainly waits in either the Astros or Rays -- Gregorius seems to have kicked his slump and entered playoff mode. If his performance tell us anything, it's that the veteran infielder is locked in to helping the Yankees win eight more games to get a ring.