April did not end in a pretty way for the New York Yankees. The only victory they were able to salvage was when Nathan Eovaldi took a no hitter into the seventh inning. It seems the only way this anemic offense can win is if the starting pitcher doesn’t allow a hit.
The hardest thing I ever had to do as a writer was remove my fandom from my duties of being fair in my analysis. It was one of the reasons my first gig in sports writing — covering the Yankees at YGY — became tiresome, especially when the team went through slumps. It’s one thing to be a homer and root for “your guys” to do well, but it’s delusional to sit their and think that “your guys” are the best at what they do simply because they are in pinstripes.
Thinking that Chase Headley is even a serviceable third baseman in a division that has Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Evan Longoria and an ever-improving Travis Shaw does NOT make you more of a Yankees fan than someone that realizes the only third baseman worse than Headley in the AL East is Kung Fu Panda. At least the Red Sox had the common sense to bench him.
Every time the Yankees go through a spurt like this, there is always the whole “you’re not a true Yankees fan” war whenever one speaks negatively about the state of the Yankees. Admitting this team is bad right now does not make me any less of a Yankees fan than the die-hard fan that believes C.C. Sabathia will eventually come around and be a Cy Young-caliber pitcher ever again, simply because he is on the Yankees.
1. This team needs to hit.
There is a pretty glaring misconception that this Yankees team hasn’t been able to score runs for a long time. While 2014 was frightening, I admit, last season this Yankees team was second in baseball in manufacturing runs. They collapsed in September, and the only team to outscore them was a Toronto Blue Jays team whose lineup was filled win an MVP and baseball’s top RBI machines.
This season it has been another story. No team has scored less runs than the Yankees, as their 74 are the worst in the MLB (their 70 RBI are ranked 30 out of 30 as well) . Their .233 batting average and .304 on base percentage are in the bottom third of baseball. Earlier on in the season, the problem was RISP as the Yankees stranded more runners than anyone else in baseball. Now, they simply have no runners.
Here, take a look at this week:
- Jacoby Ellsbury: 3-for-19
- Brett Gardner: 3-for-20
- Carlos Beltran: 4-for-17
- Brian McCann: 3-for-15
- Mark Teixeira: 4-for-17
That’s a combined 17-for-88, or a whopping .193 batting average from the five most important pieces in the lineup. Throw in the fact that they drew a combined six walks and this is a struggling lineup. No matter how hot A-Rod gets, he still isn’t playing everyday, and can only do so much with no one on base ahead of him.
Good thing Cashman pulled off that Starlin Castro trade. He’s the only part of this lineup exciting to watch right now.
2. Luis Severino needs to make an adjustment.
Simply put, MLB hitters have figured him out and it has been ugly. 0-3 with a 6.86 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP. Opposing batters are hitting .372 against him. The fact that he has only allowed two home runs shows that teams are executing small ball against him, seemingly at will.
You have to look past his velocity, because his fastball is still fast sitting in the mid to upper 90s as it always has. It simply has no movement, and he is getting singled and doubled to losses. That’s the good news, though. Severino can still pitch, he just needs to fine tune his pitches and learn to hone his command. That means pitching around the strike zone and not just at it.
3. Aroldis Chapman can’t get back soon enough.
Dellin Betances let down against Big Papi the other night isn’t a glaring issue. He isn’t prone to error and a player like David Ortiz — who has feasted on many a Yankees pitcher in his career — is going to sit there and wait for the one mistake a pitcher makes. What else does he have to do?
No, Betances is just fine. He still misses bats (24 strikeouts in 11.1 innings) and for the most part he remains untouchable (.190 batting average against).
Andrew Miller aside, the rest of the bullpen isn’t pretty. Considering half the pitching staff can’t get through five innings, this isn’t a good thing.
Did Joe Girardi pitch Chasen Shreve‘s career into the ground? 58.1 innings pitched from a 24-year old shouldn’t be seen as overwork from a situational type of pitcher, but Shreve has simply been a different pitcher since his hot start went cold last August. Johnny Barbato‘s impressive start seems to be a distant memory as he has allowed seven earned runs in his last four appearances after allowing none in his first five career outings. Ivan Nova is exactly the same out of the bullpen as he was a starter: a heaping pile of inconsistency.
The Yankees needed a super bullpen to survive with the starting five they have assembled, especially with Michael Pineda not looking like a top of the rotation type of pitcher lately. Adam Warren‘s loss is really being felt right now, as is Bryan Mitchell‘s injury. Chapman’s imminent return will help things out, pushing Betances to the seventh inning, but the Yankees still need to find a reliable gap to get to their Big Three.
It simply isn’t fair to Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman. Their room for error is ZERO right now, and anytime one of them makes a simple mistake — as Betances did the other night — it is magnified entirely too much.
4. So where is the good?
It’s tough to find right now, losing four in a row and on the verge of being swept by their biggest foe of all time. Masahiro Tanaka has gone into the seventh inning in each of his past three starts and hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any start this season. While he hasn’t looked his sharpest, that is certainly a promising first month of the season.
As previously mentioned, Castro is looking like Cashman’s best move in awhile. He has been sharp in the field, making only one error, and looks real comfortable at the plate thus far in the American League. Considering he will be part of the future of this team as the aging former stars around him see their careers come to an end, that is a HUGE positive.