The New York Yankees in August – Part One – The Batters (2021)

The New York Yankees had a 21-8 record on the month in August. It seems odd therefore, given that this was far and away their strongest month of the season, that I remain unconvinced about their potential to reach the post-season

On one hand, the vast majority of those wins came in consecutive games, when the momentum and positivity was spinning out of control. On the other hand, once that winning sequence was broken, they lost the four remaining games of the month – against the Oakland Athletics (a potential challenger for the New York team for a wild card spot) and against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who went into their series with the Yankees below .500 on the season.

It is an interesting conundrum and it will be very interesting to see what September brings. Boston have remained in contention. Toronto are fast improving. Oakland will need to sort out some of their issues but could still challenge for a wild card spot and Seattle have also come into the reckoning.

The Yankees would need to maintain something like their August record to challenge the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL East division lead, which, frankly, I can’t see happening. This means that any two of five could capture the wild card route to the playoffs. The Yankees of August could do it. The Yankees of July will not.

Let’s see what happened in August-

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The New York Yankees in July – Part Two – The Pitchers (2021)

The Yankees 14-9 record in July was due in no small part to their pitching. Their record improved after the All-Star break. They were 9-5 afterwards, 5-4 before.

The Yankees brought in two new pitchers at the trading deadline – Andrew Heaney (SP) from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Joely Rodriguez (RP) from the Texas Rangers but neither of them made their debut for their new club before the end of July.

Heaney was traded for minor leaguers, Janson Junk and Elvis Peguero (both right-handers). Joely Rodriguez may be more of a make-weight, as there is no question that the Yankees main target in the trade was outfielder, Joey Gallo. The players who went in the opposite direction were right-hander pitcher, Glenn Otto and infielders Josh H.Smith, Ezequiel Duran and Trevor Hauver.

In addition, they had added Clay Holmes (RP) from the Pittsburgh Pirates on the 26th of the month in exchange for Hoy Park and Diego Castillo. A curious move saw relievers Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson join the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for a player to be named later. It was no surprise that the Yankees wanted to offload Wilson because the veteran has struggled all season long but giving up Cessa who has had a solid year and been with the Yankees for a number of years when they weren’t particularly targeting anybody in return is strange.

Let’s look at the pitchers who play in July, beginning with the starters…

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The New York Yankees in July – Part One – The Batters (2021)

The New York Yankees seemed to begin to turn a corner in July and their results improved – particularly in the second half of the month.

It is difficult to analyse exacly why but strangely the results started to improve when many of their first choice roster members became unavailable and were replaced partially by untried players and partially by journeymen, perhaps spotting one final opportunity to breakthrough.

Some of those regulars were unavailable because of conventional injuries. Others were forced into isolation by positive Covid tests which hit the roster in ever-increasing numbers.

On the face of it, having to subtract Aaron Judge from the selection of available outfielders and add in Greg Allen, who in four previous stints in the Major Leagues (with Cleveland and San Diego) had managed to hit around .230, was not a recipe designed for success – but somehow the energy and enthusiasm of the new faces seemed to work.

Let’s survey the statistics of the offensive players in the month of July…

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The New York Yankees in June – Part Two – The Pitchers (2021)

The world of baseball pitching began to be shaken up in late-May and early-June as MLB announced that it would be checking the hats, gloves and belts of pitching staff during games.

Rumours had begun to spread about the use of a substance called Spider Tack which was allowing pitchers to get a better grip on the ball and consequently increases spin speeds. Players like Josh Donaldson of Minnesota became very vocal in their criticisms of pitchers including, for example, the New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole.

Now, there have been allegations like that. There also been suggestions that spin speeds for certain pitchers have dropped since the announcement of the rule-enforcement may have caused some pitchers to relearn their craft but so far that’s all we know.

So as we examine these statistics for the month of May, let’s consider those pitchers whose performance seems to have varied most dramatically – but I’ll go no further – the jury is still out – and we may never really know.

Here’s the stats for the whole team and then we’ll begin with a closer analysis of the starting rotation:

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The New York Yankees in May – Part Two – The Pitchers (2021)

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:

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The New York Yankees in May – Part One – The Batters (2021)

The New York Yankees finished April at 12 wins – 14 losses and in 4th place in the 5 team American League East. For a team who were expected to dominate the division, things clearly were not going to plan. Noises were made about Kyle Higashioka becoming the first choice catcher and Gary Sanchez being seen much more often warming the bench. Tyler Wade and Wandy Peralta were added to the active roster. One or two things seemed to be falling into place.

By the middle of May, the team sat in second place with a record of 22-17. That’s 10-3 over that period.

And then things began to turn again. Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton and Rougned Odor had headed to the injured list. As a partial balance, 1b Luke Voit (last season’s leading home run hitter) was back.

But things were still not going the way the guys from the Bronx wanted. The second half of the month went 7-8 and the Yankees closed out the month with a run of 4 losses

Let’s see who was struggling and who was holding their own:

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The New York Yankees in April – Part Two – The Pitchers (2021)

The Yankees used 6 starters and 1 “opener” in April. It is fair to say, in that regard, it was a very mixed month. Some good, some bad, some indifferent. We’ll come to that in a moment.

They used thirteen relievers in total. Nick Nelson was used both as the one time opener and a reliever. Those who were solid out of the bullpen were pretty consistent.

There were those who bounced between the major league roster and the alternate training site. Most peculiar of these was Michael King who was excellent but couldn’t seem to do enough to rise in the pecking orderabove those who were struggling.

Let’s survey the whole of the pitching part of the roster:

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The New York Yankees in April – Part one – The Hitters (2021)

Well, it’s so wonderful to have baseball back at something approaching normal. The crowds allowed to attend are limited but isn’t it great to hear games being played with real crowd noise – we are not there yet but we are taking steps in the right direction and it is so heartening.

So, the time comes to survey the Yankees first month. The picture is not pretty but with so many players under-performing there is so much scope for growth – so, let’s not sink into the slough of despond just yet, even with the Boston Red Sox sitting pretty at the top of the division.

It is fair to say we wouldn’t have expected that anymore than we would have expected one of the Yankees’ roster to have retired from MLB in the first month of the season. We closed out the month at 12-14 and in fourth place but given they spent 8 days on the bottom spot, at least the trajectory is in the right direction,

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The New York Yankees in July 2019 (Part Two) – The Pitchers

On the face of it, the Yankees’ starting pitching in July wasn’t really much different than the way it had been in June. In June, the team had come out 17-9 on the month and the starters had picked up 8 of those wins. Excluding the rather bizarre decision to open with Stephen Tarpley in the second “London series” game, the team had depended on 4 principal starters and one opener, Chad Green who did exceptionally well both as an opener and as a reliever. In July, the Yankees reverted to the more usual tactic of using 5 starters, now that Domingo German was available for the full month. Indeed, German was the pick of the starters but nothing else quite went to plan but even so, the starters just about got away with it. Whilst the win percentage was down (14 out of 25 games), the starters were still responsible for 50% of those wins. However, the real truth can be seen in the ERA (earned run average) and WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) columns.

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The New York Yankees in July 2019 (Part One) – The Batters

July was a peculiar month for the Yankees. After going 17-9 in June, they found themselves struggling with injuries and below-par pitching and having to settle for a weaker record in the new month. They still, however, came out 14-11 and with a half game increase on their lead in the American League East. The two game series at the end of June in London with the Red Sox which was followed by a two-games series against the Mets at Citi Field can’t have helped – but somehow they got through.

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