One of the interesting factors for the New York Yankees over the last several seasons is how they handle the roster expansion in September. This year, as in the past, Joe Girardi seemed to feel under an obligation to try to use everybody, almost as though the season was already over and it was just a case of giving people game time. But this wasn’t Spring Training, it was a crucial chase to catch the Blue Jays and watching players like Chasen Shreve, and Bryan Mitchell coming apart at the seams wasn’t helpful to them or to the cause. Let’s see what happened:
What: New York Yankees versus Tampa Bay Rays
Where: Yankee Stadium, New York, New York, USA
When: September 4 to 6, 2015
New York City is one of my favourite places in the world. London, Whitby (UK not Canada), Stratford-upon-Avon and New York are the places I love and not necessarily in that order. Being back there is always a good thing.
They call it the City That Never Sleeps and you can see why. But I guess in a city that never sleeps then sometimes changes seem to happen at double the speed. Some of my favourite things about this city are gone forever.
There was Mickey Mantle’s restaurant on 59th Street and its mashed potatoes and chicken. It’s not there are any more. There was the food and idiosyncratic shopping at the South Street Seaport. It’s been demolished. Of course, there was the old Yankee Stadium which you will look for in vain. It’s a long time gone. It’s not only Joe DiMaggio who we must ask where he is gone, some other favourites are gone too.
I first caught the baseball bug in the mid 80s but it was the mid 90s before I journeyed to New York to sit in that old Stadium that Ruth built. Then there was a players’ strike but like them I was to be back the following year. 1995.
1995. The year that a still developing centre-fielder called Bernie Williams was joined in the majors by four more developing stars. Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Somebody told me a few days ago that the New York Yankees buy their success. That’s fine rhetoric and oft repeated but the evidence won’t bear it. The Yankees are at their strongest when their farm system is at its strongest – whether it be the “Core Four” of 1995 or the debuts of Mantle, DiMaggio, Gehrig or Munson. Growing internal greats has always worked out best.
So whilst the bats were labouring the New York Yankees really needed the pitchers to pick up the slack. As it worked out their ERA was only marginally worse – 3.70 to 3.83 but the lack of batting left them with only a 14-14 record on the month which left the field wide open for the Toronto Blue Jays to steal the lead in the American League East which they were quite happy to do. Lurking behind the stats were impressive months for Masahiro Tanaka and Adam Warren particularly but let’s see what the rest of the picture reveals:
The Yankees showed a significant improvement in their pitching in July and if we combine that with their great batting form it is easy to see why they went from 15-12 in June to 17-7 in July. Having Andrew Miller back from injury certainly helped and the trio of Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve delivered more than could be expected of them during the month. The team’s ERA fell to below 4 compared to the 133 run produced in those 24 games. It is not hard to see how so many games ended in the “Wins” column.