Given how the New York Yankees have holistically performed since the All-Star break, some fans are rightfully ecstatic about the recent Subway Series sweep in the Bronx that gave way to a “partially” solid series in Oakland.
All of the contests featured gritty pitching in one fashion or another. In particular, Frankie Montas gave his first promising start as a Yank, and did so in a fashion that highlighted the kind of games October could hold.
In fact, the recent stretch of baseball has had multiple pitching performances that will need to be replicated in the postseason.
Montas surrendered six hits, one walk, and two runs while striking out six across 5.2 innings of work. Obviously, this wasn’t a perfect outing by any stretch of the imagination, but it was far better than his first couple in pinstripes.
Given Montas was facing a frisky Mets lineup that has recorded the second-most batted balls this season, one would be remiss not to give him credit for holding his ground against one of the best teams in the league. In truth, the Mets are a legitimate threat that can small ball their way towards run production.
What can the Yankees expect out of their pitching staff in October?
But this was really only the beginning. Actually, Domingo German started it all the night prior with 6.1 innings, one earned run on four hits and zero walks to help defeat Max Scherzer. Then, against the A’s over the weekend, he turned in 7.2 frames of scoreless ball, allowing just three hits and zero walks. Though he won’t be a postseason starter, it was at least nice to see this kind of production from a unit that’s needed stabilization.
Then came Gerrit Cole, who logged 7.1 innings of one-run baseball against the A’s in a start that showcased why he leads the majors in strikeouts.
It’s interesting to look at both Cole’s and Montas’ recent work when considering how the Yankees could fare against a team like Houston. To Yankees fans, Cole’s punch-out stuff would be a dream to witness. However, playoff baseball is often much rougher around the edges. Starts such as the one Montas made against the Mets are far more common in such pressure-filled environments.
All of this is to say the Yanks’ recent stretch of lukewarm baseball has been a solid representation of the types of games October will hold. Even an affair such as Sunday’s terrible loss accurately depicts this — multiple arms had to scuffle their way to the finish.
It’s not guaranteed that Cole or any other hurler will be dominant, so all involved will have to get very comfortable with gritty performances and jam-packed base paths when the competition escalates.
It’s probably best the pitching staff gets used to a lack of run support, too, because the Yankees either pour it on or go completely silent. When they have to face better pitching, the latter will sadly be more prevalent than the former.