The Yankees had set out their stall for 2018 with a starting rotation of Luis Severino – Masahiro Tanaka – CC Sabathia – Sonny Gray – Jordan Montgomery. Now this looked a little weaker than a team who were hoping for a World Series booth might field but it became a more pronounced lack when Jordan Montgomery went onto the disabled list in May. Further problems lay ahead when it was announced that Montgomery would need season-ending Tommy John surgery. What would carry the Yankees forward? Fortunately, the bullpen had begun to meet, if not exceed, all expectations.
|New York Yankees 2018 – Pitching – Month – May|
As our table shows, Montgomery started the month well delivering up the first inning in his first start giving up no hits and no walks. Unfortunately that was where the Yankees had to remove him from the game and assess an injury. As already mentioned, the news was not good. This meant that Domingo German who had previously been used solely as a reliever became the fifth starter. The outcome of this experiment was decidedly mixed. In his 4 starts, German did enough to keep the Yankees in the game in two and lost the remainder. The 5.55 ERA told its own story.
To add to the problems, in May both CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray were below par. Fortunately, the combination of fine batting and excellent relief rescued many difficult situations. Sabathia despite an ERA of 5.92 on the month and WHIP of 1.60 only had one loss with the team saving his blushes and helping him to 4 no-decisions.
Gray was very inconsistent. On the 20th of May against Kansas City he looked almost unhittable through eight innings. Either side of that, against the Athletics on the 11th and versus the Angels on the 26th, he was simply horrible. The Yankees need far more consistency from him than he seems capable of.
Masahiro Tanaka was a little better and again got enough run support to keep the team in the game when he was struggling. His ERA was only a whisker under 5 but that was enough for 2 wins and three no-decisions.
The head and the heart of the rotation then was once again Luis Severino. 4 wins, 2 no-decisions and a WHIP just a fraction over 1 made him a pitcher who was amongst the league leaders in many categories. Once again, he had an excellent month.
The (very) surprising name at the head of the list of relievers is Jonathan Holder. Now at the beginning of the season I predicted that Holder and his left-handed team-mate Chasen Shreve would be very inconsistent and would be consequently sharing many journeys between Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre and the Bronx. When the Yankees re-assigned Holder on the 7th of April, it looked like my guess was right on the money. Two things have got in the way. Firstly, Shreve (9.72 ERA in May) has been saved by a lack of left-handed relievers in the Yankees’ farm system. Secondly, Holder (0.00 ERA in May) came back a changed man. Now if he can retain anything like his current form, he can look forward to being a fixture in the Yankees’ bullpen for the foreseeable future. In May he pitched 10.2 innings in 9 appearances, giving up only 4 hits and 2 walks. Outstanding.
Also on peak form has been closer Aroldis Chapman who collected another 6 saves as well as 2 wins.
Dellin Betances and Chad Green also had good months. With Green this might be what the Yankees were expecting but they will be very glad to see Betances returning to the form he was showing in early 2017 and which disappeared late last season and in the opening weeks this year. Both have pitched more than 10 innings in the fifth month and have been solid most of the time.
David Robertson, however, has struggled a little in May and his 5.56 ERA is just not good enough for a pitcher who is likely to be following a starting pitcher who has not quite delivered enough. The Yankees will be looking for far more in June.
Adam Warren’s presence in the above table is another one of the anomalies thrown up by that strange suspended game that the Yankees played against Washington in May AND June. The game which counts as having happened on the 15th of May began on a date when Warren was out injured and on the 10 day disabled list (DL). By the time the game resumed in mid-June Warren was fit again and pitched a faultless 9th inning in a game which he couldn’t have had any part in when it began. At least that statistic, strange as it is, speaks well for his future even if the Yankees did lose the game.
4 relief pitchers were very much on the fringe of things during May and part of the comings and goings. A.J. Cole has been solid when given an opportunity but he is usually the last man to be called upon. Giovanny Gallegos spent only two days on the major league roster this month after spending some of April on the minor league DL. His one appearance was very solid but not enough to prevent a swift reassignment in the other direction. David Hale was another brief visitor but this player who seems to be making safe journeys through the waivers system also returned to Scranton where he is being used as a starter.
Finally, Tommy Kahnle who performed so well at the latter end of last season and in the post-season returned from injury but must be so disappointed with his own performance. Returning from the disabled list on the 25th, his ERA soared following a weak performance against Los Angeles on the 26th – a tendency which saw him reassigned in the early days of May.