The Yankees Enter May in First Place, Can They Stay There?
It’s May 1st and the Yankees are in first place in the American League East. Their record of 15-11 stands as the second best in the entire American League. But it doesn’t feel like they are a real contender yet. They have had several blowout losses already this season. David Phelps will the seventh different starting pitching in the first week of May. Two-fifths of their starting rotation is on the DL. They rank only 15th in the majors in runs scored and 22nd in ERA. Those numbers and the eye test from watching the games tell me this is a middle of pack team thus far. They actually had a better record this time last year at 16-10 through the same number of games. They were in first place then too. They didn’t finish that way.
The Yankees are undeniably a better team then the one that took the field in 2013. The question still is, how much better? Especially with Ivan Nova out for the year and Michael Pineda for a month, we don’t know if they have the staying power to keep up the pace through the dog days of summer. The Bombers still have plenty of talent. Masahiro Tanaka is the goods and if he pitches in May and June the way he did in April he will move into upper echelon of pitchers in the AL. But the rest of the rotation is a mess. CC Sabathia is a shell of his former self. When Sabathia or Hiroki Kuroda take the mound, you simply have no idea what you are going to get. They tend to be really good or really bad. The bullpen has been the key to the early success this season. In games the Yankees have won the bullpen ERA is under 2, in games they have lost it’s over 8.
The good news for the Yankees is that the entire American League, especially the East is seemingly down this season. The Rays are struggling after their pitching staff was decimated by injuries to Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb and are currently the cellar dwellers of the division. But they still have David Price and good offense centered around Evan Longoria and Wil Myers. The Red Sox have felt the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury and have struggled to find consistency after winning the World Series last season. And no one knows what to think about the Blue Jays or Orioles. Both teams have plenty of talent to win the division but also enough holes to finish dead last. The bottom line is that one month into the season we are no closer to figuring out these teams and determining who is the best and who is the worst. That ladies and gentlemen, are your Bomber Bites for the first day of May, 2014!