The Yankees showed a significant improvement in their pitching in July and if we combine that with their great batting form it is easy to see why they went from 15-12 in June to 17-7 in July. Having Andrew Miller back from injury certainly helped and the trio of Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve delivered more than could be expected of them during the month. The team’s ERA fell to below 4 compared to the 133 run produced in those 24 games. It is not hard to see how so many games ended in the “Wins” column.
|New York Yankees – Pitching – Month – July|
The Yankees faced one major hurdle in July. The injury to Michael Pineda which is likely to keep him out for the whole of August could be a crucial bad break. With the Blue Jays and Orioles hitting their stride, the Yankees will need to deliver good starts for their over-performing relievers to take advantage of and with the trading deadline now passed they must find that fifth starter in-house and that could be quite a challenge.
To be fair, Pineda has been decidedly uneven in the second half of the season and the team might have seen an injury developing in a player with such a track record of long-term injuries in his past.
Pineda’s 1.14 WHIP and 1-2 win-loss record was okay but it wasn’t the form of the player that the team had come to look to as the ace of the staff in the first half. Thankfully, Nathan Eovaldi and Masahiro Tanaka have taken up some of the slack. Tanaka allowed less people to get on base, Eovaldi allowed less people to score. Between the pair, they notched up 7 wins and only 1 loss which is a great asset to the team.
Ivan Nova has been distinctly patchy since he returned from “Tommy John” surgery. Great on his first game back, poor on his second. More recently, he had to retire from a game early with arm fatigue, only to bounce back in the following start and look at his best. His 2-2 record echoes this kind of form exactly and it will be interesting to see how he goes for the rest of the year.
Even more uneven is CC Sabathia who only sprinkles in the odd bright start in what has been a below par season so far. His first two starts in July saw him deliver eleven and a third innings for three earned runs. His second pair of starts saw him decline to ten earned runs in ten and two-third innings. There is little question at this stage that he is surviving on reputation rather than performance.
When Pineda went down, the Yankees rather than turning to Adam Warren who might have seemed the obvious choice, gave the start to Chris Capuano — and he was horrible. The Yankees were in amazing batting form that night and turned Capuano’s two-third of an innings for 5 runs into a 21-5 win against Texas but this couldn’t absolve Capuano who was designated for assignment immediately after the game.
The Yankees continued to use the 24th and 25th slots on their roster as a way to rotate players between the majors and the minors – particularly relief pitchers, which means the relief picture aside from the handful of regulars is quite a complicated one. Let’s deal with those regulars first.
Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Adam Warren all picked up saves. Warren in long relief; Betances covering for Miller and Miller in every save opportunity he is offered. This is not to say that Miller is faultless – in fact, when he is introduced in games where the Yankees are behind or level he has struggled. Betances has been the most consistent of the relievers and deserved every moment of his call-up to the All-Star game squad. Warren has proven such a crucial long reliever that at this stage the Yankees seemed to see Chris Capuano, Bryan Mitchell and others ahead of him as cover for Pineda. Now that Capuano has failed, the Yankees have more head-scratching to do but it seems clear that they would prefer to keep Warren in his current role.
Justin Wilson is another who has proved a crucial part of the bullpen and after a difficult start in Yankee pinstripes has settled in just fine. In fact, along with the almost equally as good Chasen Shreve, the Yankees have a pair of lefty relievers to look to before they go to the righty, Betances and then on to another southpaw in Miller. This is keeping opponents baffled and all these pitchers with the exception of Miller delivered up an ERA of less than 2 in July.
The aforementioned Bryan Mitchell continues to get some opportunities in the Bronx although he is a frequent visitor to Scranton (Triple-A) too. In his 3 appearances in July he was a little unlucky. His 1.09 WHIP ballooned to a 4.91 ERA. He still has some convincing to do before he becomes a fixture in the Majors.
And then there is a clutch of players who made just 1 or 2 appearances in the month and sometimes not only shared a spot on the roster but a shirt number too. Most notable was Diego Moreno who pitched 5.1 innings for no runs in relief of Capuano in the game against Texas we have already mentioned. Sadly as July turned into August this extended appearance was only going to result in elbow inflammation and a spell on the disabled list. On the other hand, Branden Pinder who has pitched well this season but hasn’t convinced the Yankees to keep him around, had a difficult time in his two appearances and produced a 5.40 ERA.
Then there were Nick Rumbelow and Caleb Cotham who did well in short-lived visits to the Bigs and Nick Goody who really struggled. It does seem that at any moment almost anyone in the organisation (or outside of it) could receive Brian Cashman’s call to fill that 25th slot. Sadly, I’m still waiting for my moment in the sun.