The Yankees’ pitching staff continued, in August, to do more than enough to keep the team in the game on most days. After the signings of Jaime Garcia and Sonny Gray, they had given themselves 6 regular starting options – most of whom are more than holding their own. The bullpen has been more than solid with the exception of Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is perhaps the reliever that the Yankees expected most from but who is delivering least.
Aaron Judge was hot and untouchable in the first half of the season. Now either the opposition pitchers have caught up to him or something else is wrong. Fortunately, Gary Sanchez who was very much in his shadow before the All-Star break, has exploded offensively in the last month. The Yankees are clearly concerned about some defensive kinks he has behind the plate but it is thanks to him and guys like Didi Gregorius that the Yankees’ ship is still afloat and in a promising position to take the first wildcard spot -although they are looking increasingly less likely to catch Boston for the division lead.
In July, the Yankees strengthened their bullpen by adding David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle although these moves meant they had to subtract Tyler Clippard. Then right on the deadline they strengthened their starting rotation with the addition of Sonny Gray from Oakland and Jaime Garcia from the Minnesota Twins.
Whilst it would be in August that we will see whether Gray and Garcia provide an upgrade, the arrival of Robertson and Kahnle was evidently a master-stroke especially since Clippard’s season was falling apart at the seams.
The Yankees pitching in June finally settled to a level much closer to what might have been expected when the season began. Add into the mix a few significant injuries and it was not a sweet recipe that was cooking as the month went along.
As we pointed out in our last column, the Yankees are having a steady, productive and successful season so far. The same can be said of their pitching. With the exception of Aroldis Chapman whose struggles led to further medical examination and then to the 10-day disabled list, most everyone is living up to or exceeding expectations. Let’s look in a little more detail:
The New York Yankees decided in the second half of 2016 that they were going with youth. It was a little surprising therefore, to see their two major signings in the first half of the post-season be a 36-year-old who would be designated hitter and one of the relief pitchers they traded away in the movements that took place around the trade deadline
So if the batters were worse than terrible, it must have been the pitching staff who picked up some of the slack and gave the team a chance in the May games – leading to the Yankees achieving that surprising 16-13 record on the month.
12 of those 16 wins came from the starting staff so we’ll be considering them first.