Despite an 11-5 record in September and five straight series victories, the Yankees haven’t gained ground on the Red Sox. Nothing is impossible, but it’s beginning to look like the Yankees will have a better chance of hosting the Wild Card game on October 3rd at Yankee Stadium than winning the division title.
When you think back on those series lost to Boston in August, it’s painful to think that if they didn’t squander a couple of those games, the Yankees could be neck and neck with the Sox right now—instead, they are 3 games back. However, there’s no need to dwell on the past because Yanks fans have every reason to be confident in this team right now.
Court is back in session
Forget the slump. Forget the 37-game strikeout streak. Aaron Judge has a refreshed approach at the dish recently, and it’s having a butterfly effect up and down the Yankee lineup.
“I’ve felt like he’s been getting closer and closer to where he was in the first half and maybe he’s there,” Girardi said when asked about Judge’s improved production. In 15 games in September, Judge has 3 2Bs, 3HRs, 14RBIs, and a 1.078OPS.
Judge and his partner in crime, El Gary, became the 1st pair of Yankee teammates age 25-or-younger to each hit at least 31HR in a season. And in case you forgot, here’s where Aaron Judge ranks amongst AL hitters this season:
His absurd numbers against the O’s have helped the Yankees score 154 runs against Baltimore this year—the most by any team vs any opponent since 1960.
Judge is 26 for 61 (.426/.588/1.049) with 5 2Bs, 11HR, 24RBI, and 24BB vs the Orioles in 2017.
Didi is elite
When Didi came over from the Diamondbacks in 2015 to replace Derek Jeter, nobody expected Gregorious to match the numbers the captain posted—never mind emerge as one of the leaders of the team.
Didi tied Jeter’s single-season record of 24HR as he belted 3HRs this weekend to propel the Yanks to another series victory over the O’s. Amazingly enough, Didi missed nearly the entire month of April, yet he still matched Jeter’s record and ranks in the top-5 among AL shortstops.
Just as Jeter did back in the day, Didi revels in big time spots. He’s he’s 19 for 55 (.345/.379/.600) with 5 2Bs, 3HR, and 26RBI with 2 outs and RISP this year. In Didi’s last 13 games, the Yankees have gone 9-4. This probably has something to do with him hitting .340 with 8XBH, 19RBI, and 12 R during that span of baseball.
To think Shane Green was all Brian Cashman had to give up.
Start after start, Luis Severino displays why he is the ace of this pitching staff. The team is 3-0 in his three September starts, and he has been unhittable: 21IP, 6H, 3ER, 26K (1.29ERA).
Sevy is the clear-cut favorite to start a potential wild-card game, and the Yankees have said they will not baby him going forward with an innings limit.
As for Sonny Gray, Sunday was his worst start since coming to the Yankees, giving up 5ER in just 4IP. However, in his 9 starts overall in pinstripes, Gray has given up 2ER or less in 7 time.
Given his track record of postseason success and his reputation as a “big game” pitcher, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Joe Girardi makes him the number-2 in October. Also, the Yankee offense has not been nearly as supportive with Gray on the mound as they have with Sev: 3.8 runs per game scored for Gray, while Sev is getting 6.1.
Todd “Thumbs Down” Frazier
What a September it has been for Todd Frazier. The Yanks have gone 9-5 in the 14 games Todd has appeared in this month and his numbers display his strong contributions: 2 2Bs, 5HR, 13RBI, 9R, a .684 SLG%, and a 1.116OPS.
Since getting traded from the White Sox, Todd is hitting .224 with 10HR and 29RBI. In the 54 games, he’s appeared in as a Yankee, the team is 32-22.
Can we give Chase Headley some credit?
Undoubtedly the fastest guy to get blamed by Yankee fans, Chase Headley has quietly put together a phenomenal second half:
64 for 198 (.323/.385/.505) with 12 2Bs, 8HR, 25RBI, 35R
Believe it or not, his .323 batting average since the break is 9th in the AL. Headley has stayed hot down the stretch, as he saw a 14-game hit streak end yesterday when Joe Girardi pinch-hit him late in the ballgame.
Over the span of his 14-game hit streak, Headley went 20 for 59 (.364) with a .935OPS. The team went 11-3 during the hit streak.
Lights out bullpen
The back end of the Yankee bullpen has been ridiculously good thus far in September.
With Dellin Betances struggling recently (8.53ERA this month) and Adam Warren on the DL, the rest of the bullpen has picked them up. This bullpen has been a double-edged sword the entire season for the Yankees, but with Chapman back in the closer role and these lethal weapons in the ‘pen—this is not the team you want to see in a short series.