The Yankees used 8 starters in August. The bullpen was more consistent than the rotation but even there the Yankees lost Aroldis Chapman to the disabled list in the second half of the month. The Yankees had hoped to solve some of their pitching problems by the moves they made at the no-waiver trading deadline but whilst J.A. Happ exceeded expectations, Lance Lynn looked less and less reliable as the month went along.
|New York Yankees 2018 – Pitching – Month – August|
Sonny Gray remained the poorest of the starters who started the month as part of the rotation. Indeed, his first start of August was so weak that the Yankees decided it was time to switch him to long relief and give Lynn a chance as a starter. Lynn had begun well since his arrival from Minnesota in exchange for Tyler Austin. In that first start, Gray had given up 7 runs against Baltimore, the weakest team in baseball. He lasted less than 3 innings. It was also against the Orioles that he would next see a start but this time on the road. The Yankees needed an extra starter to help out because of a make-up doubleheader on the 25th. This was to be Gray’s first start for 24 days. The puzzle that is Sonny Gray this time only gave up three hits, allowing no runs in 6 and a third innings. Between those two dates he had pitched 9 innings in long relief and he did much better in that role. The Yankees seem unlikely to return him to a role as a starter in 2018 and will probably be happy to see him find a new club next season.
Lynn, Gray’s replacement in the rotation, pitched exceptionally well in his last relief performance as he was brought into replace the self-same Gray who was really struggling. His first two starts saw him pitch 12 and a third innings giving up only 1 run on 7 innings. Tellingly, his first start was better than the second and this was a trend that was going to continue. His next 15 innings, across 3 games, saw him concede 13 runs. He was proving not to be the solution that the Yankees were seeking. Indeed, in those three games, he looked no better than Gray.
Even more worryingly, the Yankees Ace, Luis Severino has really not looked the same pitcher since the All-Star break. His last two July starts had seen him concede 13 runs and August was no substantial improvement. He averaged less than six innings a start in the eighth month. His WHIP on the month was 1.35 as he gave up 37 hits in just over 33 runs.
Masahiro Tanaka was marginally better but in his last appearance of the month, he gave up 10 hits to the Chicago White Sox. Indeed, if the Yankees were looking for a team leader amongst the starters, August suggested it might come in the surprising form of veteran, CC Sabathia who delivered up a 2.70 ERA in five starts. It must be noted though that Sabathia achieved this at the expense of 10 days spent on the disabled list (DL) with his aging, inflamed knees once more a huge concern.
New arrival, J.A. Happ combined great pitching with strong run support to come through the month with four wins and a no-decision in five starts. As well as, leading the team in wins, he led all the starters in WHIP.
Spot starters who covered for Sabathia during his absence, Luis Cessa and Chance Adams both struggled. Cessa must soon be running out of chances to prove himself. Both Cessa and Adams were used in relief during the month.
When Chapman was injured in the last third of the month and the Yankees moved to a bullpen arrangement with Dellin Betances, David Robertson and Zach Britton among those helping out. Chapman picked up 2 more saves, Robertson had 3, Britton and Betances brought in 1 each. Even Cessa added one in a long relief appearance, pitching 3 innings for 1 run during the double-header against Baltimore.
Most of the principal members of the bullpen maintained good form but the exception was Jonathan Holder who had been extremely strong since been restored to the major league roster after a spell in the minors in April. It all fell apart for him in August. He gave up 10 runs in 14 innings, meaning that his August ERA was 6.43.
With a WHIP of .86 and an ERA of 0.00 on the month, the Yankees showed that their confidence in David Robertson was well-placed. Chad Green also did well, giving up only 4 runs in 14 outings.
Dellin Betances was pretty much immaculate apart from his final appearance of the month (30 August) when in a game which mirrored some of his early season struggles, he lost sight of his strike-zone, giving up 3 runs on 2 hits and a walk.
Zach Britton hasn’t quite been as sharp as he was at Baltimore, but he is a useful player to have around until the end of the season at least.
Tommy Kahnle is much improved on his earlier season performances which led to a lengthy demotion to Scranton (Triple-A), but it must be noted that he doesn’t look the pitcher he was at the tail-end of last season. A.J. Cole continues to make up the numbers and is usually used to mop-up in games when the Yankees have little chance.
George Kontos returned to the Yankees from Cleveland in exchange for our old friend cash considerations. He was initially assigned to the Railriders but then called up on the 13th and made a solid appearance before being designated back to Scranton. Time will tell whether he will be seen back in the Bronx.
The question of Chapman’s absence may well be crucial to the Yankees’ post-season chances. He wasn’t himself prior to going on the DL, achieving limited success and a 4.50 ERA. When it was declared that he needed to be disabled, opinion was mixed. Michael Kay said the Yankees would manage just fine without him. Brian Cashman said he didn’t expect to see him back this season. Aaron Boone was more hopeful. The truth is that whilst he is no Mariano Rivera, they aren’t making the Mariano Rivera model anymore and Chapman is by far the Yankees best hope of closing down opponents on a regular basis when things get twitchy in the ninth.