The Yankees have reached the traditional half-way point in the season. They all get incompletes on the season, but how do the pitchers score on their first-semester grade?
The Yankees are poised along with the other twenty-nine major league teams to make the push that will determine the eventual outcome of their season. The Yankees season can be divided equally into two-quarters, one outstanding and the other a dismal relapse.
Yankees Starting Pitchers
Tanaka has had what can only be described as an annoying first half of this season. The supposed ace of the staff has been up, down, and all-around, and almost single-handedly has been responsible for the Yankees not being in first place at the break.
Sounds harsh? Tanaka has made 18 starts for the Yankees and has received decisions in fifteen. He has a record of 7-8 with a 5.47 ERA, which even by American League standards with the DH is well beyond the median in the wrong direction for a starter.
But more than that, he has been unable to perform like the ace he is being paid to be. He’s supposed to be the stopper, but more often that not he turns out to be the enabler.
Has he reached the end of the line for a pitcher who has been competing at this level since he was eighteen, some ten years ago? Who knows?
But one thing is sure. The Yankees don’t have the time nor the energy to wait and find out. Hopefully, Tanaka exercises the option he has on his contract at the end of the season and moves on. Grade: F
Because of his age and questions about his durability, Sabathia was placed in the question mark category when the season began.
Building on the strength of what he had learned last season as to how to pitch, not throw, to get batters out, Sabathia emerged as the stalwart defender of the suspect staff until he suffered a hamstring injury that shut him down until just before the break for a good month or so.
His 7-3, 3.81 marks before the injury opened some eyes and provided the only consistency amongst the starters for the first two months of the season.
And perhaps even more important, as the veteran and old guy” with the experience, he emerged as the go-to guy in the clubhouse, not only for pitchers but position players as well.
Sabathia is the “wild card” as the second-half begins. A repeat of the first half could be exactly what the Yankees need to bring them over the top. Grade: A
When you take a glance at Pineda’s stats, an 8-4, 4.39 ERA looks pretty good. And they are good. And maybe some of us have been spoiled by the expectations surrounding the pitcher who came over to the Yankees from the Mariners “way back” in 2014.
But darned if there isn’t something still missing that nails him down as a pitcher that Yankees would want to keep when he becomes a free agent at the end of this season.
His WHIP of 1.237 puts him right on his norm over his career, but that’s not where you want a starter to be. Nor is the 20 home runs he’s given up over the first half of the season.
Pineda is a guy that Yankees will be looking to in the second half to pitch well in those big games against the teams that matter. His first test will come this weekend against the Red Sox at Fenway. Grade: B-
On the one hand, all we need to know about Severino is that he was selected by Terry Francona as one of the pitchers to participate in the just-completed All-Star Game.
More than likely, though, it was the 124 strikeouts in 107 innings and not the lackluster 5-4 record he earned over the first half of the season.
At 23, Severino is still one of those Baby Bombers the Yankees see a tremendous upside with. And they’re trying their best to exhibit a ton of patience with him while also trying to mold him into a major league pitcher, which he still is not.
Overall, Severino has taken strides forward and, at least, not backward this season. He’s what they call a work in progress, and that process will continue over the second half. Grade B+
From the first day that Joe Girardi looked out to the mound and saw this lanky left-hander with the over-the-top delivery to the plate, with the poise of a veteran and the temperament of a bull, he fell in love with him.
Montgomery has done nothing to disappoint and, at times, has exceeded anything the Yankees could have hoped he would deliver.
Spoken of at times in the same sentence as Yankees icon, Andy Pettitte, because of the downward plane of his pitches and his tenacity on the mound, the comparison just might fit in a year or two of growth for Montgomery and the Yankees down the road.
At the very least, Montgomery has established himself a “keeper” for the Baby Bombers, and the team will be counting on him to raise the standard of his performances with each successive start. Grade: A
The Yankees Bullpen
By now, you’ve realized the trend that suggests the problems the Yankees have had do not, necessarily, point to the starters.
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Except to say perhaps, that in many cases the starters have been unable to deliver length in games and that, in turn, has forced the bullpen to do more of the heaving lifting in the first half. And that would be a valid point.
But there can be no denying the bullpen’s job is to shut the other team down, no matter what the inning or what the situation is.
And with the merry-go-round of comers and goers lately to the Yankees roster, I’m just going to take four key elements of the bullpen to evaluate.
Once again, Warren has been magnificent coming out of the pen. His 2-1 record and 2.02 ERA hardly tells the story of his effectiveness.
Eighteen hits in 36 innings do, along with a, .0875 WHIP.
His unavailability for Joe Girardi during the recent 8-17 slide by the Yankees, due to injury, was hardly unnoticed, at least by the organization.
A critical part of the Yankees second half, Warren is a mainstay middle reliever and set-up guy coming out of the pen. Grade A
There’s no sense in picking on this guy. He’s been awful. However, he’s a vital cog in the team’s bullpen and their ability to carry the team forward in the second half.
Girardi believes in him, and that has to count for something, except for his grade. Grade F
Again, we have a Yankee who was voted to the All-Star Team, so how you say anything bad about him. It’s not that so much, though, as it is the inconsistency Betances has shown of late.
If you’re the eighth inning guy coming in there after your team has finally eked out a lead, even if it’s only a measly run, you can’t fail. You can’t walk four batters in one game and expect a pat on the back the next game when you strike out the side in your next appearance.
Much like Severino, Betances, in spite of age now (29), is still in the formative years of development with the Yankees. 53 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched tells you all you need to know about his ability.
All the Yankees need now is that consistency and reliability factor that translates into someone like a Mariano Rivera. Difficult to beat, but he’s gotta get close. Grade B-
For a closer the Yankees signed to, at the time, the richest contract in the history of the game over the winter, eight saves would seem like a puny return for your investment, no?
And yet, Chapman’s name doesn’t appear in the Top Ten list of closers this season. A shoulder injury that forced Chapman out of action from May 12 to June 18 didn’t help, but much like Betances, the inconsistency when he has pitched hasn’t helped the Yankees.
Six times, the Yankees have lost a game Chapman appeared in, even if he wasn’t charged with a loss or a blown save. A look at the standings today tells you that if his team had won only four of those games, they would still be in first place.
The finger pointing with the Yankees of late is never ending, and this is not an inditement solely meant for Chapman.
But the fact is that he needs to kick it up a notch if the Yankees are going to have any chance of catching the Red Sox and getting deep into the Playoffs. Grade: C-