The New York Yankees are baseball’s hottest team of late, winning 10 of their last 11 games. That includes a four-game sweep over the Minnesota Twins, a three-game sweep against LA Angels, and taking three of four in Houston against the defending champion Astros.
And, if you go back even further, the Yanks have won 15 of their last 18 games. A whopping .833 winning percentage over these games. That’s more than impressive. But with two tough series’ coming up, one against the Cleveland Indians and the other against the rival Boston Red Sox, can the Yankees keep it up?
It’s going to be tough to keep their winning ways. The Yankees as a whole aren’t playing as well as their recent record may hint. With many slumping players, the team has looked to its less experienced players for success.
Gleyber Torres is hitting .317 since getting called up, including a clutch game-tying single in the top of the ninth to help the Yanks defeat the Astros 6-5. On top of that, Torres has played outstanding defense all the while filling the hole left by injured Brandon Drury.
Besides Torres, the Yanks have also received some much-needed help from Ronald Torreyes, Miguel Andújar, and Tyler Austin; all of whom have never played more than 50 games in a single Major League season with the exception of Torreyes.
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Torreyes, traded to the Yankees back in 2016 for former minor leaguer Rob Segedin, has only exceeded expectations. The 5’8″ infielder was a crucial part of last season’s playoff push and is continuing that level of performance this season.
These contributions are key parts to the Yankees current success, as there have been a handful of “starters” who are not playing as expected.
Giancarlo Stanton seems to have found his way out of his early-season funk; sort of. He’s hitting .234 with seven home runs, but the power-hitting outfielder is still raking up the strikeouts. Stanton’s on track to set a new MLB record for single-season strikeouts by a batter and his strikeouts per at-bat rate is just under .400. That exceeds Mark Reynolds’ 2009 campaign, the current record holder for most strikeouts in a season with 223.
Stanton did recently hit two home runs off Cy Young winner, Dallas Keuchel, in the third game of the Yanks’ four-game series against the Astros. If Stanton was the only slumping starter, the Yankees wouldn’t be in too bad of shape. Sadly, that’s not the case as both Brett Gardner and Gary Sanchez have seen better days at the plate, hitting .194 and .204 respectively.
As for the pitching in the Bronx, for the most part, everyone has seen some success this year but there are a few who are not performing as well as many may have assumed. Dellin Betances has found himself in many jams this year, as has Sonny Gray.
Gray is tied with Masahiro Tanaka for most earned runs allowed this season by a Yankee pitcher. Those 20 earned runs came in just 27 innings for Gray, compared to the 41 for Tanaka. Neither is great but Gray is more concerning for the Yankees after they put a lot of faith and support into him when they acquired him last season from the A’s. Previously questioning Gray’s performances as a Yankee, the problem could lie behind the plate.
Although Betances hasn’t allowed as many runs as Gray, his struggles are just as concerning. He’s turned it around of late, but the perennial All-Star has given up three home runs in just 12 innings. Having never given up more than six home runs in a season, an early three is worrisome for the strikeout machine.
The good news is that Betances is continuing to strikeout hitters at the second highest rate in baseball with 17.25 strikeouts per nine innings.
Otherwise, the Yankees have been on a tear of late with Didi Gregorius in particular still hitting the cover off the ball. Once the lineup starts clicking on all cylinders, this team looks to be very special.