After a month and a half into the baseball season, it has become obvious that the Yankees are good. Very good. Even the most optimistic fan would not have predicted a scorching 27-16 record without both Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. How are the Yankees playing so well? The secret is pitching. Throughout May, the team has allowed double-digit runs in only one game, and that occurred when Phil Hughes gave up seven earned runs in the first inning. Fortunately, the great pitching has compensated for a less than stellar hitting performance.
In fact, the Yankees are barely scoring runs. Only against the Royals on May 10th have the Yankees scored at least eight runs in a contest during this month, and only two other times did the Bronx Bombers scored at least 6 runs. A majority of the wins in May have been decided by two runs or less, and all were in low scoring matchups. Of course, the Yankees don’t need to score 10 runs a game to win, but seeing a team that was so potent offensively last year (804 runs and 245 home runs in 2012) struggle is somewhat peculiar. While injuries definitely contribute to the dearth of runs, it seems that a rough pitching start could easily turn into a rough night for the whole team. The bottom line is that in May, the Yankees own a collective batting average of .237. That number must rise at least 20 points if the Yankees wish to remain atop the podium in a competitive AL East division.
Now let’s talk about the good stuff, shall we? As mentioned above, the Yankees have pitched outstandingly. The triumphant trio of C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte has been terrific, compiling a 14-8 record each with ERAs under 4.00, even though Pettitte is DL-bound. The bullpen has been equally as brilliant, with Mariano Rivera converting all 16 save opportunities he has received. David Robertson has been dominant as the eighth inning man for the squad with a miniscule .177 batting average against and a 0.87 WHIP. Relievers Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne and Boone Logan have been a boon for the Yankees. Kelley’s high earned run average is deceiving, as his underlying statistics imply bad luck on the mound and not horrible pitching.
In addition to pitching well, the Yankees are fielding well too. Robinson Cano is fielding .994, and Lyle Overbay is doing his best Mark Teixeira impression with a .993 fielding percentage. Jayson Nix has played a satisfactory third base also, and even at the age of 39, Ichiro Suzuki has shown plenty of life on his throws with four outfield assists. The key to winning games is to prevent errors and minimize mistakes. The Yankees’ glovework has been very strong so far, and should continue to remain a strength going forward.
Overall, the Yankees have been solid in May. Andy Pettitte‘s injury does not help matters, but the starting rotation and the bullpen are strong enough to overcome his loss, for now. The batting has been mediocre, but it has been good enough to propel the Yankees this month. The fielding is fine, and possibly most important of all, the morale is high. A decent team with great chemistry will perform better than a great team with poor chemistry. Considering that the Yankees were only 21-18 at this point last year, the Yankees are in a very comfortable position for the beginning of summer.