Including 1st October (End of regular season)
The Yankees’ pitching has been amazing in 2017. Every time someone under-performed, someone else stepped up to fill the gap. When Aroldis Chapman lost his way, it just happened that Dellin Betances was on form. When Betances struggled, Chapman regained his form. Adam Warren injured? Chad Green pitches phenomenally to fill the gap. Masahiro Tanaka not quite up to the ace billing? Then here’s Severino doing everything as a starter he couldn’t do in 2016 and CC Sabathia doing more than his aging limbs should allow. Let’s look at the whole picture
|New York Yankees 2017 – Pitching – Month – September and October|
The Yankees were still playing perm any five from six in the last weeks of the season and on the whole it worked well.
Masahiro Tanaka who was meant to be the best starter this year, was the sixth best starter on the month, which echoed his form through most of the season. But it wasn’t at all simple when you look at Tanaka’s performances in September. He was alternately great and poor. On the 2nd of September against Boston, he delivered up 7 innings for 1 run. 12 days later facing Baltimore at Yankee Stadium, it was a similar 7 innings for 2 runs with 8 strike outs. The problem was that between those two performances there was a desultory outing in Texas where he conceded 7 earned runs in 4 innings.
When he returned to Yankee Stadium on the 29th, he blanked Toronto through 7 and struck out 15 but before that was the game in Toronto where he conceded 8 runs (7 earned). Will the real Masahiro Tanaka stand up?
Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia, the pair of mid-season acquisitions, were also not quite at their best in September. In fact, Garcia has not been quite at his best since the first time he put on pinstripes. Gray was 2-4 on the month, Garcia didn’t have a win in his three starts. Both ERAs were over 4 and both WHIP% were over 1.30.
Each of these three players could be gone from New York next year. Gray is on a 1-year contract but his current $3m+ contract will make him an attractive option for the Yankees to try and bring back. Garcia has been on 4 different clubs’ rosters since signing an extended deal with club options with the Cardinals. That contract runs out this year and the Yankees may well not try to bring him back after an indifferent run of form. Tanaka could opt out of the remainder of the contract. We will see what happens!
The top three starters this month have been making their presence felt all year. This month, the team was extremely cautious with Jordan Montgomery. This is his first year at the top level and he already had more innings pitched than he ever had in the minors. Consequently in his first two outings as soon as a few chinks in his armour began to appear he was removed even though he had not reached the 5th inning. He was more successful against Baltimore on the 16th and on very long rest against Tampa on the 26th. Across the two games he gave up only one run in twelve innings on the mound. He had a good if a little shorter start in the last game of the season which resulted in a no-decision.
CC Sabathia had a good month to add to a season where he has largely exceeded most expectations. In September’s 5 starts, he achieved 3 wins and 2 no-decisions and ended the month with a nice 3.62 ERA. Will he back in 2018? Part of that lies with CC and how much he wants to continue to put himself the regime of getting ready but I would guess that he might well be offered a 1 year deal at a lower basic income but with lots of incentive levels.
Luis Severino continued to do all that could be expected of him as he bounced back from the 2016 season to file under forget. He has proved himself to be the starter that he looked like he could never be a year ago. We need to forget about the atypical start against Minnesota on the 20th of the month when he lasted only three innings giving up 5 hits and three runs but even with that added into the mix he still averaged six innings per start. Also even with that game in the reckoning there were no losses in the month (what a bullpen!!) and three wins. He had the best ERA of all the Yankees’ starters and a WHIP of .70.
Prior to September, Aroldis Chapman had hit a rocky road and was removed from the closer’s job. Dellin Betances was doing well and slotted into his shoes well. In September, the reverse became the case. Whether it was that Betances was discomforted by Chapman’s restoration to his role, unhappy about some of the times when Joe Girardi took the ball from him or simply lost form, I guess we’re never going to know but he had a pretty horrible month. Appearing in 12 games for a 5.59 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP was never going to compare with Chapman’s 11 games, 0.00 ERA and .42 WHIP.
Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson were the two mid-season arrivals in the bullpen and they continued to be exemplary. Robertson was the one of the two with the edge. 23 strikeouts in 15 innings, a .53 WHIP and 3 wins is a pretty hard act to match but Kahnle produced a 0.90 ERA but tended to allow a few too many to get on base even if they seldom scored.
The Yankees will be presumably hoping that all these four will be back next year. In addition amongst long relievers, they have Adam Warren who is doing great when he is fit but has had considerable down time this year. The man who has stepped up to the mark has been ex-Detroit Tiger, Chad Green who has struck out 17 in 12 innings and seldom been hit.
The period of expanded rosters showed all the possibilities of who might take other spots from amongst the current major league ready group and produced some fairly mixed results.
Ben Heller continues to perform well when he gets the opportunity but you do get the feeling that the Yankees might prefer it if he was a southpaw with a similar group of stats. He’s a little two low in the pecking order at the moment.
Domingo German and Giovanny Gallegos are two more right-handers who have given the Yankees what they wanted and needed when called upon but again there is only so much roster space through the bulk of the season.
Chasen Shreve is another matter altogether. He is one of the few left-handed options the Yankees have out of the ‘pen aside from the closer but as mentioned in previous columns, he goes from unhittable to being someone who can’t get anyone out. This showed itself most remarkably within the space of four days in September. At Yankee Stadium, facing Buck Showalter’s struggling Baltimore Orioles, he gave up three runs in 2/3 of an inning, issuing 4 walks. Four days later facing the Twins, he pitched three innings, took the win and didn’t give up a hit. The problem for the four-seam fastballer is that this has been the picture for the last three seasons. Surely, there must be more consistent options out there to suit up for the Bronx Bombers.
Jonathan Holder, Bryan Mitchell and Caleb Smith round out the bullpen. Holder has been useful most of the season, journeying between New York and Scranton but September was really not good. Mitchell was going to be a feature of the rotation until he injured himself at the beginning of 2016. Smith has been great at Scranton but has been unable to produce anything like that at the major league level. Holder should be still on the edge of the roster in 2018. Mitchell should be gone. Smith should be back at Scranton trying to figure out if he has a temperament that can deal with the next level or not.
So the Yankees will go into the post-season feeling confident about Green, Kahnle and Robertson. They will hope that Chapman is on a roll that he can maintain and that Betances can bounce back again. They will probably try not to put too much weight on Warren’s shoulders; hoping he can remain injury-free.
Of the starters, they will be looking to Severino, Sabathia and Gray to be consistent. They will hope that Tanaka has his good days rather than one of his bad days. Montgomery may make the roster but will be kept in reserve – his time is yet to come. Garcia will be fortunate to be used at all.
One eye will be on 2018. Injuries to Michael Pineda and Luis Cessa will need to be assessed but this year has seen progress in almost every department.