Monday, August 31, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: Domination expected and delivered

Heading into the weekend series at the Atlanta Braves, the New York Yankees had to feel they had three very winnable games coming against a team in complete rebuild mode. That feeling and getting the job done are two different things, but the Yankees’ bats came alive and carried them to a three-game sweep.

The series finale will be highlighted because of the 21-hit, 20-run rampage, but there were other aspects to the series which indicate the Yankees might be poised for a successful finish to the season.

No Teixeira, No A-Rod, no problem?

Mark Teixeira
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Of course this is an exaggeration, because they Yankees do need Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to be healthy and productive over the final month-plus of the season. But, to score 36 runs in three games without them (A-Rod contributed  a two-run pinch-hit single to Sunday's run-fest), albeit against a poor pitching staff, proves to the rest of the club that they can get the job done without them on occasion.

Further, A-Rod coming off the bench and getting on base both times shows he can be productive as a pinch-hitter. While the Yankees are once again giving A-Rod some reps at first base, unless Teixeira is unable to play, I cannot see Rodriguez playing much there even in the lone series against a National League team (the Mets) in September. Worrying about how A-Rod can contribute in a potential World Series game at a National League park is terribly premature in my opinion.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Yankees lacking energy during playoff race?

New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner told reporters Wednesday that he feels the club is lacking energy of late, more specifically saying the team was “kind of flat” in Tuesday and Wednesday’s defeats at the hands of AL West leading Houston. If there is one thing that makes me want to pull my hair out, it’s professional athletes saying they do not possess drive. I get it for teams with nowhere to go in August and September, but for a team currently holding the top wild card spot in the American League it’s pathetic.

I don’t rant often, but here it goes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Yankees’ stagnant offense puts pressure on fragile rotation

Through most of the first four months of the season, the New York Yankees offense was one of the high-points of the club. They were second in the league in scoring and fairly consistent. The production was typically spread throughout a majority of the lineup; just about everyone helped produce runs at some point. But, once August came around, the offense has been sputtering more than effective and it is putting pressure on a fragile rotation.

Through Tuesday’s 15-1 blowout at the hands of the Houston Astros, the Yankees rank among the worst offensive teams in the league.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: Panic in the Bronx?

The New York Yankees had a chance to put some more space between them and the Toronto Blue Jays this past weekend, but unfortunately, all that happened was the Yanks getting completely humbled by their AL East foes in sweeping fashion.

The Bombers came in with a great home record (32-18) while the Blue Jays were a putrid 22-31 outside of Rogers Centre. Both clubs were expected to put up a lot of runs, and other than Saturday’s affair, each game was a pitcher’s duel. The Yanks lost those too, scoring just one run the entire series.

Believe it or not, there are some reasons precluding me (and should prohibit you) from panic.

The pitching held up

Nathan Eovaldi allowed just one run in six-plus innings after a rocky first inning, and Masahiro Tanaka allowed two solo home runs in six innings of work. Even Saturday’s starter, Ivan Nova, pitched well, shutting out the Blue Jays over the first five innings. He allowed a back-breaking grand slam in the sixth inning allowing David Price and company to coast the rest of the way.

Eovaldi and Tanaka (despite the bombs) held an offense in check that leads the majors in runs scored and came into the series on fire. There is something to be said about their performance under the pressure they pitched with.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Yankees’ Luis Severino has arrived

The New York Yankees put an “untouchable” sign around the neck of 21-year-old Luis Severino, and Wednesday night fans were treated with glimpses as to why.

Luis Severino
Photo credit: Slgckgc via Flickr
Severino was not perfect in his MLB debut against the Boston Red Sox; he worked around some 3-2 counts and surrendered a mammoth home run to David Ortiz. But, he also buckled down when the count was in the hitter’s favor never allowing a walk, and retired the final six batters he faced after Ortiz’s bomb.

In five innings of work, Severino allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits. He struck out seven Red Sox and walked none. He was handed the tough luck loss, but after the game it seemed anyone who was asked praised the Yankees’ top pitching prospect.

"He was awesome," Wednesday night’s catcher John Ryan Murphy said via "He definitely belongs; that's one of the first things that stands out. He's a competitor. He wants to be the guy in control. ... I think overall, he should be really proud of himself."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: Road trip, standing pat, two months to go

The New York Yankees remained in control of the American League East after going 6-4 on their road trip. The Yankees virtually stood pat at the deadline (minus one minor move) and the club has two months to, to the day, to maintain their position in the standings and reach the postseason for the first time since 2012.

Great trip

I wrote at the beginning of the 10-game road trip that if the Yankees could figure out a way to hit on the road as well as they have at home, while all else being equal, they would be tough to beat after the trade deadline. The Yankees did just that, pounding out 21 runs in one game at Texas and 13 and 12 runs in two of their games against the White Sox. The Yanks averaged 4.6 runs in the other seven games which should be plenty of offense if the pitching is doing their job.

What was even better is this stat:

That’s impressive considering the top five or six guys in the lineup have carried the club's offense through much of the season. If the trend remains (obviously not at the level of the road trip, but basically average to above-average offensive production) the Yankees will be hard to catch.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Yankees: Why Dustin Ackley?

The New York Yankees seemed poised to make a deal Friday, the final day of the non-waiver trading period. The Yanks were linked to relievers Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman for parts of the day, hoping to make a splash by building a superpower bullpen. It wasn’t meant to be and the Yankees stayed pat on deadline day.

The Yankees were not entirely quiet, making one deal this week; trading outfielder Ramon Flores and right-handed reliever Jose Ramirez to the Seattle Mariners for utility player Dustin Ackley. The Yankees designated 1B/OF Garrett Jones for assignment to make space for Ackley on the active roster. Ackley, 27, can be used throughout the outfield as well as first and second base.

Ackley, a former first round pick (No. 2, 2009), has never truly lived up to expectations as a top-rated prospect in the Mariners’ system. Once Robinson Cano was signed for the 2014 season, Ackley was permanently shifted to the outfield from his natural position at second base.