Yankees Continue To Excel With Smoke And Mirrors

Aaron Judge - New York Yankees Dugout

The Yankees are off and running, and you have to marvel how they are doing it with so little coming from the bulk of their team. Can it last?

The Yankees, as play begins today, boast a commanding lead in the AL East where no other team is playing .500 ball.

With nine wins, the Yankees have reached the one-quarter mark to attain 36 wins against 24 losses, a record that is sure to put them at to near the top of the playoff seedings.

DJ LeMahieu - Yankees MVP 2019 (NY Post)
DJ LeMahieu – Yankees MVP (NY Post)

Would you be surprised to learn, however, that Yankees stalwarts, Gary Sanchez (.074), Aaron Hicks (.200), Brett Gardner (.174), Miguel Andujar (.071), and Gleyber Torres (.147) have a combined batting average of .133? (Note: All stats before last night’s game)

Or, that the same group has driven home 11 of the Yankees 61 (18%) runs, while Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela, DJ LeMahieu, and Giancarlo Stanton account for 38 RBI (63%)?

While it’d be nice to think Aaron Judge can continue that pace he’s on to hit 42 home runs in a shortened 60-game season, is it reasonable to believe he and his hot partners can carry the team the rest of the way?

I’m afraid it’s possible until the playoffs arrive, and the competition rises to another level with dominant pitchers who pitch in and around opposing lineups.

Smoke and mirrors will not suffice then.

Yankees Starting Pitching Misfiring Too

And what about the Yankees starting pitching? There stand Gerrit Cole, and his three-for-three winning starts doing exactly what the Yankees are paying to do, but what about the rest?

By now, most Yankees fans can readily identify the two main culprits, and based on how they finished the 2019 season in a flourish, their decline this season is a mystery and a cause for concern.

Yesterday, J.A. Happ turned in his second illustrious outing against the Phillies in a Yankees loss. His ERA to this point sits at 10.29, and no one can explain why he turned in an unprecedented six walks last night.

James Paxton is another work in progress that has managed to pitch only four innings over his two starts while surrendering twelve hits leading to eight runs and a 13.50 ERA.

Zack Britton, New York Yankees (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Zack Britton, New York Yankees (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

As a team, the Yankees have an ERA of 4.20.

But it’s the bullpen led by Zack Britton (five for five saves and zero runs allowed), together with Chad Green and Adam Ottavino, each with five appearances from the pen and no runs allowed, holding down the fort for Aaron Boone.

It’s not only the Yankees because strange things are going on in this upside-down 2020 season.

The Miami Marlins, if the season ended today, are the NL East Division winners. Christian Yelich is batting .088 with a mere three hits, while last Year’s NL MVP Anthony Rendon is batting .148 with two more hits.

Albert Pujols, Cody Bellinger, Pete Alonso, Jose Altuve, and Miguel Cabrera are all mired in slumps, striving to get their batting average over the proverbial “Mendoza Line” of .200.

The Yankees Need A Team Of Contributors To Win

Chalk the Yankees hot beginning up to any number of factors, including a weak schedule, generally good health, and an out of this word Aaron Judge.

But no team wins anything in this league without contributions from all members of the squad.

Nor does it help when we hear of a player having this to say about his one-hit two-strikeout performance in the Yankees (9-3) loss to the Phillies last night:

Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees Outfielder
Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees Outfielder

“It was about time that I did something. I was due to do some damage after a lot of damage had been done to me!” -Gary Sánchez (.097 with 18 strikeouts in 31 at-bats) (Marly Rivera ESPN Writer)

Contributions are coming from Mike Tauchman (.368) and Luke Voit (4 HRs and 7 RBI). But the key will always be the players Aaron Boone runs out there every day, like Sanchez, Torres, and Hicks, to show their value to the team.

For the moment, the Yankees are okay with little or no competition in their division.

But equally as valid is another truth – the Yankees team we see today is not good enough to win a World Series.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.