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Yankees still waiting for DJ LeMahieu to regain batting mojo

His batting average is down and his strikeouts are up.

This isn’t the DJ LeMahieu the Yankees envisioned hitting in the middle of their batting order this year.

The hope was he would rediscover his All-Star form from his first two seasons in pinstripes, or at least build off a decent season last year that was cut short by a severe toe injury.

But at least of late, that hasn’t happened.

LeMahieu was given a night off for the series finale against the Orioles on Thursday, manager Aaron Boone saying he rested the infielder to ensure he plays all three games of this weekend’s series against the Padres at the Stadium.

The 34-year-old LeMahieu — who did not play in the Yankees’ 3-1 loss to the Orioles on Thursday night at the Stadium — is hitting just .250, which would be his lowest mark since his rookie year.

He’s a lifetime .296 hitter and two-time batting champion (2016, 2020).

DJ LeMahieu's batting average is down and his strikeouts are up this season.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

His slash line is a woeful .250/.313/.355 in May with an underwhelming .669 OPS.

That includes the baffling decision to try to bunt twice with the Yankees trailing by one run and the tying run on third base in the seventh inning of the series opener with the Orioles.

Most concerning, he has struck out 49 times in 182 plate appearances, a 26.9 percent whiff rate.

His career rate is only 14.9.

LeMahieu isn’t a power hitter.

He’s best known for hitting the ball to all fields, being able to put a pitch in play.

He’s doing that less this season.

He has struck out 21 times this month and is on pace to strike out over 100 times for the second time in his career, and the first time since 2015.

“I feel like over the last week, where he has gotten some hits and hit some balls hard, maybe fouling off some pitches that he’s gotten that he normally lines out there for a hit, fouling that pitch off,” manager Aaron Boone said. “[He’s] getting in two-strike situations he’s probably expanded [the strike zone] a little bit, which is not normally the case with him. He’s probably just expanding a little bit more. As a result, when he does get a pitch to hit, [he is] not putting it in play where he normally would.”

Boone made it clear that LeMahieu getting the night off had nothing to do with his recent struggles.

If not Thursday, he wouldn’t play in one of this weekend’s games against the Padres.

“This one seemed to make the most sense,” Boone said. “Nothing more than that.”