The 2018 Yankees have had an interesting go of it on the mound. A Cy Young-caliber season from Luis Severino coupled with a rebirth from CC Sabathia and the emergence of Jonathan Holder have been contrasted by a dumpster fire of a year from Sonny Gray as well as injuries and some bullpen inconsistencies. Intriguing, no?
It’s kind of funny honestly. I started writing this piece on August 1st, the day before CC didn’t exactly have a rebirth and Jonathan Holder had the single worst pitching performance these eyes have ever seen. However, there’s more to it than these two players who had a rough go of it against the current best team in baseball.
Every time something seems to go right for this group, things go downhill, and vice versa. Kind of the story with the whole team lately, frankly.
Sevy got off to an UNREAL start, but has been flaming hot garbage his past 5 times out. Sure, his last time out against the Red Sox there were some tensions in the first inning that may or may not have contributed to putting the Yankees in a hole they couldn’t get out of, but he has to be better. Plain and simple. Despite Cora’s postgame remarks being unprofessional and incorrect, any time you get chirped for having a bad start, it doesn’t speak well. The Yankees go as far as he goes. If he doesn’t go, then we’ll be seeing them on the golf course real quick.
Sabathia has been fine, despite his past two outings not being great, there are not too many things to be concerned about here. The big fella can still pitch at a good 2-3 level, and is as reliable as they come in big games. Another arm who is not one to be concerned with is Masahiro Tanaka. He has been great his past 3 starts, even spinning a complete game against Tampa, and appears to have settled into a groove. Having Tanaka back and pitching at the level he was last October is going to be crucial for this team if they want to go anywhere.
As far as the other guys go, it’s a mixed bag. Thank GOD the Sonny Gray fiasco has been sent to the grave; I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I’d rather get my teeth drilled sans-Novacaine than watch him start another game. Lance Lynn looked good against Baltimore, and he takes Gray’s spot in the rotation, but come on. It’s the Baltimore Orioles. Practically a minor league team. Look at Lynn optimistically for now, but he needs to face some legit competition. J.A. Happ is a nice pickup, and he looked every bit the pitcher the Yankees expected to get at the deadline, but he got the Thor disease at a bad time. It’s safe to expect him to pitch well, though, once he comes back.
So there are a lot of likable pieces with this rotation, they just aren’t pitching to their peak right now at a time when they need to be. Severino has clearly shown he is an ace, he just needs to pitch like one. CC could settle down a bit, the other guys are solid, but when the Boston Red Sox have shown zero signs of slowing down, you need to win games. Can’t be losing and having your ace get thwacked around like a pinata.
Many thought and still think the Yankee bullpen is the team’s biggest strength. Green, Robertson, Chapman, Betances, Britton, and Holder make up a deadly unit on paper. But, guys have struggled of late.
Let’s start with Chad Green. I’ll cut right to the chase: when you only throw one pitch, guys are gonna sit on that and hit you hard. Green has thrown his fastball 87% of the time this season. Eighty. Seven. There’s no variety there. Brooks Baseball has Green listed as throwing TWO changeups ALL SEASON!!! That’s not good!!! At all!!! Until he can again command his slider at the very least, he is a one-trick pony whose luck has apparently run out. The Yankees sure could use him in his 2017 form as a shutdown reliever who is reliable night in and night out. As of now, he’s not that.
David Robertson has actually been alright. If you look at his game logs, his ERA is hurt by home runs with runners on base. In terms of appearances when he gets the job done versus when he doesn’t, he has done alright. I’m not too too worried there, but let’s keep the ball in the yard please…
Holder has been a revelation for the most part of the season up until Thursday’s dumpster fire. I kid you not, I left my seat when it was 4-2, went to get myself some chicken tenders on the other side of the park, met up with my friend, and by the time we both got back to the seats, it was 8-4 AND HE STILL HADN’T RECORDED AN OUT. His ERA went from 2.06 to 3.50 with that outing alone – not good. Having said that, he has been very reliable all year. A little rough patch lately is nothing to freak out about. I think this rough stretch can be attributed to an increase in fastball usage; if he dials it back a bit and mixes it up with breaking pitches, this shouldn’t be more than a blip on the radar.
Everyone else has been what you would expect. Chapman has been amazing, Betances has been killer, Britton has looked like his old self if his sinker is on…
Where the hell is Tommy Kahnle and his fastball? Back hopefully? Lord know. We will just have to wait and see. But, if the Yankees can get the 2017 version of Kahnle back, this bullpen will get a HUGE shot in the arm.
So What’s the Deal?
Basically, summed up, they have been playing garbage baseball lately. Can’t beat an inferior team, and when they have to step up against the Red Sox, they get put through the meat grinder by a journeyman. I’m not on the team or in the locker room so I can’t say for sure whether it’s a managerial problem, a locker room problem, or just guys not playing well. To me, it’s a little bit Boone not knowing how to manage a bullpen, and a little but guys just not performing to their top capabilities. This roster is loaded. On paper, this team should be the best in baseball, and the hype around this team since December is absolutely justifiable. But that’s on paper. The New York Yankees need to just play better. Specifically, they need to pitch better. If they don’t, they’ll lose more than just the division.
I apologize if this post is a little more loosey-goosey and inflammatory than most of my content; I’m writing this currently sitting in London’s Heathrow Airport after having gotten booted from a connector for literally no reason and working on being awake for 30 hours straight while at the same time the Yankees have been God-awful in a series they cannot lose, so I’m running on fumes a bit here.