So the Yankees ended up splitting their 4-game series with the Sox at Fenway this weekend to remain 3.5 games back in the East. The series definitely had its highs (a 4-1 16 inning victory on Saturday), and its lows (a 5-4 loss in the opener on Friday.) At only 4 games after the All-Star break, let’s see what we can take away from this series.
-The Bullpen (Besides Aroldis Chapman)
Probably the Yankees’ biggest problem coming into the break was their bullpen. What was a strength for us all year quickly turned into a weakness, with Dellin Betances looking like the second coming of Tanyon Sturtze at times. However, the pen was fantastic this weekend. Before Chapman blew a 4-3 lead Friday, they picked up Jordan Montgomery, who was only able to go 4 innings, by combining to throw 4 innings of scoreless relief. They followed this up by throwing NINE scoreless innings on Saturday to secure a 4-1 win. Chapman rebounded to throw a scoreless 14th, and even Tyler Clippard pitched well in the 8th.
Of the four Yankee starters this weekend, only CC Sabathia ended up with a win. But they all pitched pretty well. Jordan Montgomery was able to labor through four innings giving up only three runs when he clearly did not have his best stuff. Luis Severino looked like the ace he’s been for us all year, giving up one run over seven innings in a pitchers’ duel with AL All-Star starter Chris Sale. CC then threw six scoreless on Sunday, getting out of jams unscathed time and time again. Even Masahiro Tanaka pitched what I thought was a really great game, giving up only three and striking out nine over 7 and 2/3 innings. Aside from a Mookie Betts moonshot over the monster, he looked like he had his good stuff on Sunday.
For a team whose strength has been hitting all year, scoring 11 runs in 4 games is not gonna cut it. No one had a particularly great series, but you’ve gotta muster up more runs than that to have any chance of making the playoffs. The pitching was great for the most part this weekend, but we don’t have the staff to rely on them this heavily down the stretch. However, I think the Yanks can snap out of it pretty quickly. Holliday showed signs of life (including this game-tying HR in the 9th of Craig Kimbrel Saturday) after looking absolutely lost in his first game off the DL, and Starlin Castro just got back last night.
-2nd Basemen Fielding
The Yankees made three errors this series and they all came from second base. The usually sure-handed Ronald Torreyes made two on Friday night, including booting a grounder that forced Girardi to walk the bases loaded (still kind of a bad call I thought, to walk the bases loaded when Chapman is clearly having command issues? I understand setting up the force at home, but with no outs I feel like the move is just to hope he can get a few strikeouts. But that’s just me.) Starlin Castro also looked rusty on Sunday night, making a throwing error as well as not being quick enough with a feed to Didi to turn a double play. However, I don’t think this will be a lingering problem. Torreyes looked fine the rest of the series, and Castro should be back to his old self in no time.
I’m not even mad that he went 1-18, I’m mad because now we’re gonna have to hear the “the HR Derby messed up his swing!” argument. That’s absolute BS, but I do think Judge is fatigued. He plays pretty much every day, and didn’t get any kind of rest during the All-Star break. I’d be shocked if Girardi doesn’t get him a day off either tonight or tomorrow. He also absolutely crushed a David Price pitch in the eighth inning to the triangle in deep center when Jackie Bradley jr. made probably the best catch I’ve ever seen in my life. Gotta give credit where it’s due, the dude made it look like Ken Griffey jr. circa 1995 was back on that play. That helped seal the Yanks’ first shutout all year, which I still can’t believe came at the hands of David freaking Price.
I know he threw scoreless innings on Saturday and Sunday, but man the loss Friday stings. I’d feel way better if we took 3/4 and cut the lead to a game and a half, but Chapman blew that on Friday. Sure, the two infield singles and an error aren’t totally his fault, but your closer is expected to come in and shut the door, period. Strike guys out, get pop-ups, whatever it is. They definitely aren’t supposed to be walking in the winning run. Seeing Chapman and Betances go through these recent struggles makes me realize just how spoiled we were with Mariano for all those years. Dude may be the best pitcher of all-time, forget reliever. But I’ll save that biased Yankee-fan argument for another time.
Bryan Mitchell takes the ball tonight vs. the Twins in Minnesota. The Yankees NEED to win, if not sweep this series to get some momentum going. With the trade deadline approaching, look for the Yanks to be linked to guys like David Robertson and Todd Frazier of the White Sox and Sonny Gray and Yonder Alonso of the A’s. Personally, I’d like them to make a deal, but only at the right price. If any Yankee fan tells you they’re okay with the recent slide because “this is a rebuilding year,” tell them to shut the hell up. Sure, rebuild was the expectation coming into the year, but if a team can compete for a title then you go for it. That being said, I don’t want them to mortgage their future to go for it all this year. This team’s window for success is just opening, and I definitely don’t want them to trade a guy like Clint Frazier to make a huge push this year when their title chances are probably better in the coming years anyway. Obviously I’d love a guy of Gray’s caliber to replace the rotation void left by Michael Pineda, but the asking price will probably be too high. I’d be fine with them trading for someone less glamorous or giving Chance Adams his shot. Either way, look for Brian Cashman to be very busy between now and July 31st.
Things could definitely be better, but they could also for sure be worse. Let’s go Yanks baby.