After getting off to a VERY slow start, the Yankees have won 14 out of their last 20 games thanks in large part to a pitching staff that has been the strength of the team for the first 37 games of the season. Gerrit Cole is coming off perhaps his best start as a Yankee going eight innings allowing just four hits, no runs and striking out 12 batters in a 1-0 Yankees victory on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Corey Kluber and Jordan Montgomery have also picked their game up as of late. Monty went six innings and allowed just two hits, one run and had nine strikeouts. Kluber took on Max Scherzer in a classic pitchers duel between two former Cy-Young award winners. Kluber matched up shot-for-shot with Scherzer finishing with a respectable line: five-and-two-thirds innings of work, six hits, two earned runs, three walks and six strikeouts.
Of course we can’t forget about Aroldis Chapman who has been absolutely unhittable so far this season. He’s appeared in 15 games and has thrown 15 innings total. He’s allowed just four hits, one unearned run, has walked five batters and struck out 31. He’s saved nine Yankee victories and has looked better than he ever has.
The hitting has also stepped up. Giancarlo Stanton went on a torrid 10 game stretch for about two weeks including hitting big home runs in all three games against the Astros. Aaron Judge has had better at bats including a three hit game on Monday at the Trop. DJ LeMahieu is slowly getting back to being DJ LeMahieu as his average is up to .273. Finally, when he’s gotten playing time, Gary Sanchez has been productive although the numbers may not be as much. Sanchez’s OPS+ is 99, just one below the league average.
2021 is the Yankees’ year if they want to go all the way. At this point there are no more excuses. Soon enough, Judge, Urshela, Sanchez, Torres, Kluber, and German will all be up in their contracts and the Yankees will need to make tough decisions. It would be an all-time disappointment if the New York Yankees are unable to win their 28th championship with this group of players.
PHOTO: Elsa/Getty Images