Alex Verdugo #24 of the New York Yankees strikes out...

Alex Verdugo #24 of the New York Yankees strikes out during the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Can the Bronx Dawgs survive the dog days of summer?

That was the question being asked Friday night after the Yankees suffered their second drubbing in a row — an 8-1 loss to Atlanta, their sixth defeat in eight games, which caused some of the more cynical among us to wonder if this is all a mirage.

It’s not that the Yankees aren’t talented — that’s far from it, considering they still hold a half-game lead over the second-place Orioles in the AL East. It’s that they looked utterly toothless against the Orioles and Atlanta, and although they routinely have beaten up lesser teams, these losses have been indicative of a group that at times has struggled against better competition.

Take, for instance, their series losses against the surging Red Sox and the star-studded Dodgers.

But two things can be true at the same time: You can have legitimate concerns about the Yankees’ recent performance while also understanding that it might not spell the end of the world. If you really want to look on the bright side, you can acknowledge that it’s far better for them to work around some growingly apparent deficiencies now rather than later in the season.

“It’s been a rough week for us,” Aaron Boone said. “In a lot of ways, it’s not the worst thing to happen — to make sure in a lot of areas we’re tightened up. Everything has kind of gone our way and it’s a reminder that this thing is hard.”

But positivity may be hard to swallow right now, and that’s understandable.

The Yankees are injury-riddled, their bullpen is in tatters, and after having their starters pitch at least four innings in 76 straight games, that streak, too, fell apart: In the last two games, Luis Gil was unable to get through two innings and Carlos Rodon failed to get through the fourth.

What the Yankees can do is look at this as an opportunity.

The season was less than two weeks old when Alex Verdugo insisted they had “dawgs” in the clubhouse — the implication being that the Yankees were tough and a bit rambunctious.

But Week 2 of a 162-game stretch is no measure of a team’s mettle. And if they really are going to win a World Series this season, they’re going to have to greet adversity with a feral tenacity that befits the nickname.

“It’s going to be ups and downs throughout the year,” Juan Soto said. “We’re doing the same thing we’ve been doing since Day One, but it’s not going to be that easy.”

Their early spectacular play has given them a significant cushion to figure this out. And despite the Orioles flapping around them like desert vultures, the wild-card race is well under control before the July 30 trade deadline. Which means that right now, this can be a stress test — the kind that uses radioactive dye to highlight points of weakness.

Here’s what’s been revealed: The rotation is a little flammable, there are deficiencies in the bullpen, they have trouble controlling the running game, the threat of injury is omnipresent, and there is weakness in the infield, especially at the corner positions.

Some of these things — such as injuries — aren’t really preventable. But there are other things that the Yankees can tweak on the fly, at least in the short term.

The rest, however, is left for general manager Brian Cashman to work on in the next month.

The Yankees had the 11th-best farm system in the majors going into this season, according to MLB Pipeline, and have some pieces they can flip to address more pressing needs.

When they’re thriving, the Yankees’ bullpen excels at creating soft contact, but a more dominant swing-and-miss reliever certainly could help.

Despite having an All-Star-caliber season thus far, Gil remains a question mark. He allowed seven runs in 1 1⁄3 innings against the Orioles on Thursday and it’s unclear if he’ll have an innings cap at some point.

An infielder at basically anywhere but shortstop would be a welcome addition; extra points if he can provide a spark lower in the lineup.

But this is all easier said than done, of course. The creation of expanded playoffs means a lot more teams are in the race than out of it, which, in turn, can create more of a sellers’ market. And granted, it’s a longish list for a team this good.

But it’s also a long season, and if the Yankees are really going to prove to be the “Bronx Dawgs,” they’ve got to show their bite is as good as their bark.

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