It’s May 5th and the New York Yankees are 9-16, six games back of the first place Boston Red Sox and sitting in the cellar of the AL East. Safe to say things are not good in the Bronx, but I’m optimistic they will turn it around. The team is simply too talented and too experienced not to. There’s always a chance that this season is a blip in the radar and the Yankees just happen to have a bad year. They haven’t been under .500 in 24 years so perhaps they’re due for a stinker. However, I truly don’t believe they’re as bad as they’ve been for the first month of the season.
It’s been such a weird month so far for the Yankees because they looked like an absolute powerhouse the first series of the season. They lost the opener to Dallas Keuchel and the Astros with the help of a fluky play in the 8th inning but then scored 24 runs the next two games to take the series. Then they split two games in Detroit, getting shutout in one but scoring eight in the other. So the Yankees scored 35 runs in the first five games – seven runs a game, which is fantastic. The next 20 games? They scored 54 runs, or 2.7 a game. That is beyond atrocious. Unless you have a starting rotation like the Mets do, you’ll never survive scoring less than three runs a game.
Why am I not concerned about the offensive struggles? Because the biggest issue with the team is their inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Entering last night, they were hitting .201 with RISP which was dead last in the league. The Yankees get runners on base alllllll the damn time, but they simply cannot get them home. A lot of the time they have a runner on third with less than two outs, which just takes a productive out and they still cannot score the run. At some point, that has to turn around. As I said, there’s too much talent and experience for this team to keep failing in those situations.
I’m hoping that last night’s seven run outburst in Baltimore was a sign of things to come. They did score seven runs in Boston on Sunday night as well, but last night felt different; they did it without home runs. Entering the top of the sixth, the Yankees had one hit – a leadoff double by Jacoby Ellsbury – but that was about to change. The offense finally woke up in a big way. Ellsbury knocked a one-out single and then promptly stole second. Brett Gardner followed up with a single to set up men on the corners. Carlos Beltran hit a sac fly to center to plate Ellsbury. After a Mark Teixeira walk, Brian McCann ripped a two-out two-RBI double down the line. Beautiful, clutch, productive baseball.
We all know the Yankees live and die with home runs, but that is the kind of rally they need to survive. Home runs will always be a part of this team… stringing together singles, walks, productive outs and clutch hits with RISP needs to be as well. When the Yankees go cold, it’s because their power is in short supply. If they focused more on hitting the ball the other way and keeping the line moving instead of always trying to mash a three-run homer, the offense would be much more consistent. That inning last night was very similar to the one they had in Game 2 of the season and something that I want to see more of. Home runs are fun, but a rally where everybody chips in is even better.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 5, 2016
Not to be lost in last night’s offensive awakening was the performance of CC Sabathia who was spectacular! Seven shutout innings against a team that hit him well even in his best days in a ballpark that gives him fits. CC was lights out and has actually been the second best starter this season behind the team ace Masahiro Tanaka. CC now has a 3.81 ERA which every fan, player and coach would sign up for and is second behind Tanaka’s 2.87 mark.
This is why I’m optimistic. CC and Tanaka have been terrific while Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino and Michael Pineda for the most part have not. Eovaldi had a dazzler in Texas and Severino looked better on Tuesday, but those three all need to step it up… which I believe they will. Larry Rothschild is too good of a pitching coach to let their struggles linger for much longer. Pineda has a career 3.81 ERA. Severino was brilliant last season when he came up. Eovaldi in the second half was one of the best pitchers on the team. They will turn it around, I have faith. Those high six ERAs will not last. They just can’t.
As far as the bullpen is concerned, aside from Dellin Betances’ hellish week – that only the most fickle of fans turned on him for – they have been stellar. Have I mentioned that Aroldis Chapman returns in four days? Yeah, that’s happening. Talk about a spark plug. Andrew Miller, Betances and Chapman are going to be soooooo much fun late in games.
Yankees fans, take a deep breath. The team has been really, really bad this season. There’s no denying it. But for the most part they are beating themselves with dumb mistakes and just overall bad baseball. That is the easiest thing in the sport to fix. Slumps will end, poor starts will end, a reliever’s bad week will end. Losing happens. I’ll never be mad at a team for getting beat. What upsets me is when they sabotage themselves. If the Yankees just clean up their act and start playing the game the right way, they’ll be back where they’re supposed to be.