Certainly, there hasn’t been much good in the second week of the 2016 season for the New York Yankees. They are mired in a four-game losing streak heading into Masahiro Tanaka‘s Sunday start and a lot of it is their own fault. It’s actually the same story it has been the past few seasons.
1. Yankees bats need to hit when it counts
The Yankees were better at it last season than they were two years ago, but this past week has resembled that painful 2014 season when they simply couldn’t get runners to score. The Yankees are currently 2-for-36 with runners in scoring position during their four-game skid. They have gone 0-for-12 in EACH of their last two contests. 0-for-24 with RISP does not make for entertaining baseball.
You can blame the pitching for getting off to a slow start, but right now, if these guys were hurling two-hitters, the Yankees offense wouldn’t be providing enough run support to win. It’s two weeks into the season. Mark Teixeira is traditionally a slow starter, however Alex Rodriguez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner simply need to get it going.
Is it painful to watch? Absolutely. But two weeks into the season, especially with the way some of the other bats in the lineup are on fire, it is no time to panic. Their big bats will continue to get opportunities, they just need to get their swing back.
2. Six innings would be nice from a starting pitcher.
The Yankees went out and built a back-end of the bullpen that would help ease the duration that the starting pitchers would have to go into games. They felt Dellin Betances–Andrew Miller–Aroldis Chapman would be a reliable way to limit the injury prone Tanaka, the aging C.C. Sabathia and the young Luis Severino to six innings a night.
That hasn’t happened. One starter has lasted six innings and it’s the one pitcher — Sabathia — that most Yankees fans don’t even want on the mound. Ah, life’s bittersweet irony.
Severino is the most disturbing. The 22-year old future ace has not looked himself just yet this season. Known mainly for his struggles with his command of his secondary stuff, Severino has actually been throwing strikes this season (66 of his 95 pitches landed in the zone in his first start and 55 of his 87 in his second start). He has simply been very hittable, which is uncharacteristic of Severino.
Severino has made it to the bigs by striking out batters and getting out of jams. This season he has allowed 18 hits over his 10.2 innings pitched (.383 batting average against) which has led to a 1.78 WHIP (coming from a kid who had a career 1.02 WHIP in the minors). His velocity doesn’t appear to be down (averaging 96 on his fastball), so Severino just needs to find his zone again and focus in, but he needs to do it fast.
3. B Mac, Beltran and Castro are in a groove.
The positive note about the poor RISP performance is the fact that there are Yankees swinging hot bats and getting on base.
Carlos Beltran is off to a hot start. If he can stay healthy and have a Beltran-esque season, that would be huge for the Yankees. He has struck out seven times and walked just once, so along with a .370 BABIP, this doesn’t seem likely to last at this rate, but a .280, 25 home run season is not out of the question.
McCann is doing everything right at the plate right now. He has walked five times and struck out six and is getting on base at a .469 lick. He has just four RBIs, but here’s an interesting stat for you. He has 10 hits and six walks and has scored 10 times. For a team struggling so much with RISP, McCann is scoring 63-percent of the time he reaches base.
That’s likely because he has the luxury of hitting in front of Beltran and Starlin Castro, i.e. the only other two Yankees doing anything in the lineup. Here’s a telling stat. Castro leads the Yankees in hits (13) and RBI (9) but has scored a mere three runs. Castro has been on base the same amount of times as McCann and has scored just three times, or 19-percent. They are wasting Castro’s hot start. If Ellsbury and Gardner could get it going at the top of the order, Castro could be scoring a lot more runs producing at the bottom of the order the way he is.
4. Johnny Barbato is fun to watch.
The Yankees have an All Star team in their bullpen, but the least likely of them has been excellent thus far this season. Andrew Miller is doing his thing, a perfect 2-for-2 on the season striking out nine and walking none, and after a bizarre first game for Betances, he has been on a fire as well.
Barbato, the 23-year old righty, has been nothing short of spectacular. He has proven he can go longer than an inning successfully as he has allowed just two hits and no runs over his first five appearances. He has a terrific strikeout ratio, K-ing nine and walking just two.
If Chasen Shreve can put his late season meltdown behind him, Barbato and Shreve give the Yankees a young and nasty lefty-righty punch to play with before getting to the Big Three. By the looks of it with the starting rotation and Ivan Nova‘s last appearance out of the pen, they are going to need it.