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 Yankees got off to a strong start in April – stronger than most had anticipated. They tussled for the lead in the American League East with the Baltimore Orioles.
In May, even more surprisingly, they maintained that trajectory whilst Baltimore faded slightly and the Boston Red Sox came into the picture. But by the end of the month, there was a couple of games clear lead that the Yankees had carved out ahead of their two rivals. Impressive.
The Yankees’ pitching rotation, going into the season, looked quite evidently their greatest weakness.
By contrast, their bullpen looked like their greatest strength.
What would happen if the bullpen lived up to its billing and the rotation was more consistent than expected?
That would be April 2017, which is the way that it has worked out in practise!
The Yankees went into the regular season with a positive outlook. They had led the league in Spring Training game wins and the young heart of the line-up (Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez) had had a phenomenal spring. There were still large questions about the depth of durability of their pitching rotation but their bullpen was the strongest around. At the very least, they had given themselves hope.
…And then the season began…
The Yankees said, as the 2016 season came to an end, that they were targeting pitching for the coming season and that particularly strengthening their bullpen was their big target. As Spring Training approaches, it would seem that they have failed to even come close to meeting either of those two inter-related targets.
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
The New York Yankees surprised us all by how long they stayed in contention for the second wild card before slipping away in the final week or so of the regular season. However, in reality they didn’t really maintain the momentum that they had worked up in August and the team both in terms of their batting and pitching struggled over the last few hurdles and the much vaunted Baby Bombers began to look a little more ordinary after the initial excitement around the call-ups had settled down…