The Yankees, when they were flying high, were scoring runs at a league-leading pace. Now, not so much. And because of that drop in production, the team is gliding and no longer soaring.
The Yankees, like all teams, seek to find that rare combination when their pitching and offense are in sync. So far this season, the Yankees have been winning despite their inability to match the two together.
ESPN’s Power Rankings for Week 8 adds the following summary as a description of why the Yankees have fallen to Number 5 among all major league teams:
Where did the Yankees’ offense go? Since May 18, the Yankees are scoring 3.5 runs per game, which ranks 25th in the majors. The only teams scoring fewer runs per game in that span are the Cardinals, Orioles, Phillies, Padres and Mariners. Through May 17, the Yankees ranked second in the majors in runs per game with 5.9, trailing only the Nationals (6.0). — Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information
The offensive glitch has been glaring at times, as in the case of Chase Headley, who was given two “mental health” days by Joe Girardi over the weekend. While on other occasions, the drop-off has been more subtle, as we see in the case of Gary Sanchez, who has become an afterthought in the Yankees lineup since his return on May 5 from a wrist injury.
And if not for Aaron Judge and his performance as a one-man army, we probably don’t want to know what the Yankees won-lost record would look like as we head into June.
As fans of baseball, we understand that baseball is a game of cycles, hot ones, and cold ones. And that some days the ball coming in from the pitcher can look like a beach ball, and a week later it’s smaller than a golf ball.
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And we also understand that there is little that Girardi can do as a manager except wait it out and attempt to put his best nine in his lineup on a day-to-day basis.
The news on the injury front is good, with Tyler Austin and Greg Bird sent to separate spots by the team to begin their play in live minor league games to fill the hole at first base. And in the case of Austin, he will be able to provide support in the outfield, as Jacoby Ellsbury is still reportedly experiencing headaches following his collision with a wall.
Adding to the mix, Brian Cashman recently said that he would consider promoting Gleyber Torres only as an “emergency”. And if Headley is unable to bounce back from the lull that both he and the team is enduring, Cashman’s hand could be forced.
But other than that, the Yankees are what they are. They are a team that has been crafted around offense, not pitching. The pitching has been reliable, if not stellar at times. But it’s not the kind of staff that can be counted on to deliver quality starts (six innings with three or fewer runs allowed) day after day.
In a game that is cyclical, the offense will turn itself around, and the Yankees will return to something at or close to what they were in April.
The trouble, though, is that the team is no longer playing the Royals, A’s, or the White Sox. Instead, they’re playing the elite teams in their division.
It’s not nearly panic time yet. And there is, hopefully, help on the way with Bird and Austin. But just in case, I’d advise Gleyber Torres to keep at least one bag packed and ready to go.