As previously noted, the New York Yankees have not had the start to the season that they expected in 2021. However, it is the start of the season that they deserved. With the season a third complete, they finished May at 29-25 and in third position.
Instead of hoping to win the American League East, they are more likely to be targeting the second wildcard spot and only then if their bats begin to do their work.
In May, their pitching was less culpable than the batting line-up in adding to their woes.
Let’s survey the strengths and weaknesses of the players who took the mound:
Here are the pitcher in order of their ERA record for the second full month of the season.
|Nick Nelson (RP)||0||0||0.00||1||0||1||0||0||2.0||0||0||0||2||2||1.00|
|Lucas Luetge (RP)*||1||0||0.00||8||0||1||0||0||10.0||7||2||0||0||10||0.70|
|Aroldis Chapman (RP)*||3||0||0.75||12||0||10||0||7||12.0||4||2||1||6||18||0.83|
|Albert Abreu (RP)||0||0||1.35||2||0||2||0||0||6.2||2||1||1||2||7||0.60|
|Gerrit Cole (SP)||2||1||2.18||5||5||0||0||0||33.0||26||8||8||6||35||0.97|
|Corey Kluber (SP)||3||1||2.27||5||5||1||1||0||31.2||17||8||8||10||35||0.85|
|Domingo German (SP)||2||1||2.40||5||5||0||0||0||30.0||22||8||8||6||28||0.93|
|Nestor Cortes (RP)||0||0||2.45||1||0||0||0||0||3.2||3||2||1||4||3||1.91|
|Jordan Montgomery (SP)||1||0||4.05||5||5||0||0||0||26.2||26||12||12||5||29||1.16|
|Jonathan Loaisiga (RP)||2||1||4.09||10||0||1||0||1||11.0||12||6||5||3||7||1.36|
|Chad Green (RP)||0||1||4.22||10||0||2||0||1||10.2||7||5||5||2||9||0.84|
|Jameson Taillon (SP)||1||2||4.45||6||6||0||0||0||30.1||25||15||15||13||34||1.25|
|Wandy Peralta (RP)*||1||0||4.50||11||0||0||0||0||8.0||5||4||4||3||7||1.00|
|Michael King (SP/RP)||0||2||5.73||5||1||0||0||0||11.0||15||9||7||6||11||1.91|
|Luis Cessa (RP)||0||0||6.14||7||0||5||0||0||7.1||9||6||5||6||4||2.05|
|Deivi Garcia (SP)||0||1||8.31||1||1||0||0||0||4.1||5||5||4||1||3||1.38|
|Justin Wilson (RP)*||1||1||8.59||8||0||5||0||0||7.1||8||9||7||4||7||1.64|
The Yankees used seven starters during May. Amongst that number was Corey Kluber, who in his comeback from a very longterm injury, found himself pitching a complete game shutout on the 19th of May in Texas. The Yankees only gave him two runs support from a mere 4 hits but it was enough. Now, they must sit back and wonder whether allowing him to pitch all 9 innings was a mistake. 8 days later he was placed on the injured list and now faces several weeks of being unavailable to help his team. In the earlier part of the month, he took 2 wins and conceded one loss. His WHIP of 0.85 led the starting rotation on the month.
Gerrit Cole courted some controversy towards the end of the month, as a decline in his “spin rate” seemed to accompany a new alert amongst MLB executives about pitchers applying illegal substances to the ball. This was to have more developments so hold the front page until our column for next month in a few weeks time, but the Yankees ace, despite a couple of sub-par outing was able to maintain a WHIP of below 1 and show a winning month in the record books.
Domingo German manages to keep pulling his weight and came in at the end of the month with two wins and one loss and an ERA of 2.40. His WHIP was the second lowest amongst the starters too.
Jordan Montgomery is struggling with inconsistency. On one occasion, he gave the Yankees 7 innings (May 21, versus Chicago White Sox) and gave up no runs but didn’t get the win because of the looming spectre of lack of run support. On two other occasions, he delivered six innings but in one of these (against Houston, on the 5th of the month), he surrendered 8 hits and was a little fortunate to get out of a couple of sticky situations. His one win came against Tampa Bay and saw him only give up two hits and one run in six innings. Notable was his outing against Baltimore on the 16th. Six hits and two walks accounted for 5 runs but on this occasion the relief staff came to his rescue. A mixed month indeed.
If Corey Kluber had done well in coming back from time out (prior to his new injury and all the questions that raises), the same cannot be said for Jameson Taillon. He made 6 starts in the month resulting in 1 win and 2 losses. Only one of those appearances saw him deliver up more than 5 innings and only the game on the 1st day of the month gave him an entry in the wins column. 25 hits and 15 walks is not going to be good enough to keep him in this starting rotation and it is only lack of alternatives and the injury to Kluber which has resulted him being still there now,
Michael King and Deivi Garcia were called on for spot starts. King’s start came at the end of the month in Detroit. He pitched 2.1 innings for 4 runs although only 2 were earned. His immediate future seems to be as a reliever unless the absence of Kluber makes him a temporary stop-gap. Deivi Garcia’s future seems to be at Triple-A Scranton as he needs to learn the trade a little better before making the next step permenantly. His second start of the season saw him deliver 4.1 innings for 5 runs (4 earned). Six men made it to base – 5 hits and 1 walk. He is very much a work in progress.
Lucas Luetge has been the overwhelming surprise of the Yankees’ staff. Whilst some of the batters have been hugely disappointing and some of the pitcher have reached or failed to reach expectations, the Yankees had no right to expect anything from Luetge when they made him a non-roster invitee to Spring Traing. His last major league game had been in late April of 2015, when he gave an impressive outing to Seattle but that didn’t prove enough to stop him being demoted to their Triple-A roster, where he has plied his trade with various clubs ever since. Making the 26-man roster for the Yankees at the beginning of the year was surprising enough, but seeing him two months in doing a great job, means that people are starting to take him seriously. His WHIP of 0.70 and ERA of 0.00 on the month are great – he did give up 2 runs but both were unearned.
Aroldis Chapman had a spotless record (barring one unearned run) through May 22 but gave up an earned run to Chicago on the 23rd. He accumulated a further 7 saves on the month.
Jonathan Loaisiga is enjoying a breakthrough year on the Yankees roster and whilst his ERA of 4.09 in May was by no means perfect, he is proving a very useful asset.
Chad Green was a little unfortunate in May. He had a WHIP of 0.84 which was amongst the best of the relief corps but wasn’t at all reflected in his 4.22 ERA. Also, his only outcomes on the month, were a loss and 9 no decisions.
Luis Cessa arrived from the Detroit Tigers in the same deal as Green but there is no doubt who performed better in May. Cessa’s 6.14 ERA was second to worst amongst the regular staff and his 2.05 WHIP was worst.
Justin Wilson is the only regular reliever who had a worse ERA in May than Cessa and that 8.59 figure suggests that the Yankees might have been better set to leave him alone in the marketplace in the close season. At least with Brett Gardner, there were issues of sentimentality with him being a career Yankee and all. There are no such issues with Wilson who they have traded away once before. His time here may be limited.
Along with Albert Abreu and Brooks Kriske, Nick Nelson is one of the pitchers bouncing back and forth between Scranton and the Bronx. Both Kriske and Nelson had miserable Aprils and found themselves back in the minors before the opening day of May. There was to be no return to the majors for Kriske in May, but Nelson was promoted at the tail-end of the month. He had a reasonably good outing against Detroit on the 30th with 0 hits, 0 runs but 2 walks. Hoever, he will need to show more to persuade the Yankees’ hierarchy that he has a long term future at the club.
The situation with Abreu is more puzzling. He has only four appearances on the season and his two in May saw him deliver 6.2 innings for 1 run, Even with Darren O’Day injured, he is not gaining a regular role on the club and is therefore in the same category as Kriske and Nelson but it is not obvious why. Perhaps, they want to make sure he gets regular innings to sharpen him up for the future.
Since the trade which sent Mike Tauchman to San Francisco, Wandy Peralta continues to chug along reasonably without really showing anything too exciting – but he is doing enough and it is good to have another left-hander out of the ‘pen.
One very surprising name who has reappeared on the roster this month is Nestor Cortes. He was previously with the Yankees in 2019 and ended his tenure with them carrying a 5.67 ERA which was rather unremarkable. His win-loss record that season was 5-1 which was much less indicative of his performance than the ERA figure. So, it was rather surprising to see the Yankees promote him, especially since it meant sending Albert Abreu in the opposite direction. His appearance towards the end of May was strong enough to see him retain his place on the roster and we will see what happens next.