Every Yankee fan has gladly supported the rag-tag group of Yankee players stepping up for this New York ball club. With Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, and until recently, Didi Gregorius, all spending extended time on the injured list, new faces have thrust their team into a battle for first place.
How have the likes of Clint Frazier, DJ Lemahieu, Gio Urshela, and Domingo German performed so well this season? The odds to make it to the playoffs are still good for the Yankees, sitting within the Top 5 of the AL, but what are the obstacles standing in the way of the Yankees and their 28th World Series championship?
Baseball teams have found new ways to win, and the Yankees have bought in on a new strategy, the opener, to win ball games.
BY sending out Chad Green, or other relief pitchers, the Yankees give rest to a depleted starting rotation without their ace Luis Severino. Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German, and James Paxton have all spent time on the IL this season and an opener gives them rest. Also, apparently it helps the Yankees win.
As of June 16, the Yankees are 5-0 when Chad Green “opens” up to a game. In those five starts, he has pitched to a 3.52 ERA with 13 strikeouts and only 2 walks in 7.2 innings pitched. Those numbers are a world’s better than Green’s 9.60 ERA in 15 innings of relief work.
The Opener has provided the Yankees with 5 wins but also has revitalized one of the Yankee’s relief (or opener) arms.
In 2018, the Yankees held a 44-32 (.579 W%) record against their divisional foes. This season, the Yankees have taken advantage of the AL “Easy” with a 19-6 (.760 W%) divisional record this year. Besides a 1-2 hiccup north of the border, the Yankees have done their job up and down the division, already winning 10 games against Baltimore, and taking four of six from the first place, Tampa Bay Rays. Not to mention the 4-1 performance so far against the struggling Bosox, adding insult to their average year so far.
The LONG Ball
A year removed from hitting the most home runs in a single season (267), the Yankees have hit 110 home runs so far. This total is good for the fourth best in the American Leauge and puts the Bronx Bombers on pace for 258 homers this year. 258 home runs would have to lead the league last season by a good margin, with the 2018 NL Champion Dodgers hitting only 235.
When considering only five home runs have been produced by Judge (5) and Stanton (0), the Yankees should increase their HR ratio when their two sluggers return, not to mention the looming presence of newly acquired Edwin Encarnacion. They have a chance to not only top their season total from last year but also lead the league in homers for a second consecutive year.
Gary Sanchez (20), Luke Voit (17), and Gleyber Torres (15) are the top three long ball bashers on the team so far, but Frazier and Brett Gardner have both added 11 home runs each, helping the Bronx Bombers keep their famed nickname while their two most recognizable sluggers practice their home run trot down in AAA.
Albeit, not many people are attracted to Yankee Stadium to see the Bronx Defenders, but fielding is half of the game, and the Yankees have not been good at it in 2019.
Even without the league’s worst defender from a season ago, Miguel Andujar, the Yankees are still kicking around at the bottom of the American League in defense.
They are 14th out of 15 in errors this year with 56 and are sporting the AL’s third-worst fielding percentage at .978.
Frazier’s team worst -7 defensive runs saved has not helped out in the right field, but Gio Urshela, ho has been praised for his defense at third has hidden behind his ability to make the flashy play here and there while carrying -4 defensive runs saved, third worst on the team.
The silver lining is Judge’s defensive presence is poised to return to right field and DJ Lemahieu has played solidly all around the diamond with 6 defensive runs saved and a .984 fielding percentage.
With the acquisition of Encarnacion, Stanton’s time at DH will decrease, sending Stanton and his 68 career defensive runs saved to the outfield. He has played 334 of his 8,935 innings in left field and has been able to maintain positive defensive runs saved to the outfield, hopefully bolstering the Yankee defense.
Juxtaposed to New York’s performance against the AL East, their time against the AL Central has been terrible.
Sitting at 11-11, the Yankees have performed similarly against the AL Central as they did last season against the Al East, beating the good teams (Minnesota, 2-1) and losing to the bad teams (CLE, CWS, DET; 4-8).
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