Friday, August 16, 2013

How Are The Yankees Looking?

When I first heard that the Yankees had signed Mark Reynolds (thanks, Burch!) I thought, "why?" Before their four-game winning streak, they had gone 7-13 in their previous 20 games, and are currently six games in back of the second wild card slot. Basically, even though Reynolds is going to be pretty darn cheap for the Yankees, he still seemed like a needless expense. I mean, they don't have a shot at the playoffs.

"We can do it!"

The offense has gotten a boost since Curtis Granderson returned to the lineup. In his first eight games back from his latest freak injury, Curtis only hit .160, which is not something opposing pitchers should be afraid of. However, he has been on a tear since then batting .529/.619/.824 in 5 games, including a couple of doubles and a home run. I don't think he's going to continue hitting that well, especially seeing that .613 BABIP, but I don't see him falling to the sub-.200 range either. If Grandy can keep up the patience we've seen out of him lately, and still hit the ball as hard as he did in the previous two seasons, then he'll mean a lot.

In his last 10 games, Brett Gardner is hitting .262/.333/.405. If he can get that on-base percentage up a little bit, and keeps running as well as he has the past month and a half (9 steals, while being caught just once), then the added "oomph" in the middle of the lineup thanks to Cano, Rodriguez, Granderson, and now Reynolds could be huge.

The bottom of the lineup still looks a bit shoddy thanks to guys like Ichiro Suzuki, who's batting .237/.256/.237 in August. That includes zero extra-base hits, and only one walk. But if Ichiro can be the man we saw in July, when his triple-slash was .305/.340/.411, then the Yankees could really be in business.

Joe Girardi has to stop playing Chris Stewart more than twice a week, and that me be two times too many. Stewart has hit .167/.255/.190 since July 1st, while Austin Romine has hit .302/.388/.465 in that same time frame. The young catcher is also walking quite a lot lately, taking four of them in only six games. If he continues being that patient, and makes good contact when he does swing, then I may stop dreaming about Brian McCann.

"Nah, you still want me."

Unfortunately there's one sore spot in the lineup that I don't see a bright side in, and that's Eduardo Nunez. He's hit .255/.304/.373 in August, and that is arguably his best month of the season. That's not a good thing, by the way. When he does make contact he can make some noise, but the fact Eduardo's striking out more than he ever has in his career shows that that hard contact is so few and far between that it really is not helping. On the contrary, Nunez is hurting the team. Of course, one bad spot in the lineup shouldn't kill them, but it's still hard to see when the Yankees have such a hill to climb in order to get to the postseason.

The much improved lineup may be all for naught, though, if the pitching doesn't get better. Yankee pitchers, that includes starters and relievers, have thrown to an ERA of 4.94 in August, while giving up 15 home runs. Even if the offense was able to overcome that, which is no sure thing at all, then they'll be in real trouble in the playoffs. Just look at what the Tigers did to them in the last series... 16 runs (7 home runs) in only three games. 

"He's not forgetting the league leader in runs scored, is he?"

However, if CC Sabathia can build off of his last two starts, in which he's gone 7.1 and 6 innings, giving up 3 and 2 runs, then that'll go a long way to getting the pitching back on track. Not to mention Andy Pettitte getting back to the pitcher we saw in his first 10 starts of the season (3.82 ERA), if not the guy we saw in 2012 (2.87 ERA). With the "true" ace of the staff, Hiroki Kuroda, doing his thing, along with Ivan Nova pitching ridiculously well in his past 7 starts, then all of our hopes should really get up there.

Four of the five teams in front of the Yankees, who are battling for one of the two available wild card berths, are not doing well lately. The Rays, Athletics, and Orioles have all gone 4-6 in the last 10 games, while the Indians are 3-7 in their past 10. Looking at who those teams have played in the last 10 games doesn't make me give any of them a free pass, either. Sure, the Indians had a four-game series with the Tigers, but it's still a shame that they were swept in that. 

That last bit is not something to dismiss, as the Yankees are going to need help in order to make the playoffs. We're not talking about overcoming one or two teams here. Especially since we have zero games against three of the ones we're chasing (Oakland, Cleveland, and Kansas City). And although the Yankees have a winning record against the other two teams, Baltimore and Tampa Bay, 14-11 is hardly what I'd call "domination". The Bombers will likely have to at least win their two remaining series with each of those teams, while beating up on the remaining opponents too.

So overall I'm feeling better about the Yankees chances of making it to the postseason, but it won't be easy by any means. And I don't even want to think about what'll happen once we get there. 

"Just win, baby!"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)