Despite a week of baseball that featured flying fists, suspensions, and continued struggles for Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees wake up Monday morning and find themselves 2.5 games back of the Red Sox.
The series victory over Seattle on Sunday marked the end of a slump for the Yanks. The last 11 series they’ve played where there has been a rubber game, the team was 0-11. It goes without saying that as the calendar flips to September on Friday, every series from here on out is absolutely crucial.
This week, the team won both of their series—going 4-2. With the Red Sox going 2-5 on the week and losing their last 4 ballgames, the 4-game series this upcoming weekend in the Bronx could decide who will take home the AL East title.
Let’s take a look at some numbers that have the Yankees within striking distance of their first AL East victory since 2012.
After most fans began to lose faith in the right-handed flamethrower prior to the All-star break, Dellin Betances has returned with a vengeance.
Since the break: 20.2IP, 9H, 2ER, 31Ks, 9BBs, 0.87ERA
In the first half, Betances struggled in a big way with control more than anything—walking 26 guys in 28.1IP. If you take a look at his career BB/9, it helps show how wild he was in the 1st half.
Although he has improved drastically of late, Dellin still remains well above the MLB average for BB/9.
El Gary’s tear
If you thought Gary Sanchez’s 2016 August wouldn’t be repeated, think again. This month the Kraken has been in an absolute groove at the dish: 28 for 91 (.308/.375/.703) 3 2Bs, 11HR, 24RBI
His 14 homers in the second half have him tied for 3rd-most since the break. If not for Giancarlo Stanton’s whopping 24HRs since the break, Gary would be getting more attention. Keep in mind Sanchez missed a month of baseball early in the season, which make his season totals to date that much more impressive.
He will unfortunately be missing more time soon, as the fight in Detroit landed the Yankee catcher a 4-game suspension.
Jaime Garcia’s skid
Since being acquired from the Twins before the deadline in an effort to bolster the rotation, Garcia has been quite ineffective. The team is 2-2 when he has made a start, but his numbers make it seem like it should be worse: 19.2IP, 22H, 13ER, 15Ks, 13BBs, 5.95ERA
He’s slated to make his next start on Tuesday against Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer, who actually has a worse ERA on the year than Garcia. When he pitched against the Indians back on August 4th he gave up 5ER in just 4.2IP.
The return of Greg Bird and Starlin Castro
To have back their All-star 2nd basemen and Greg Bird — a guy who scouts thought would have an All-star caliber year after his insane spring training — is nothing short of huge for the Yankees in the thick of a tight division race. With September quickly approaching, the team needs all hands on deck to make a run and catch the Red Sox.
Castro wasted no time getting back into the lineup and producing. Returning for Friday night’s game against Seattle, he proceeded to go 6 for 12 with 2 2Bs, 3RBIs, and 3 runs scored—helping the team to a series victory.
In case you forgot, Greg Bird did kind of well in spring training: 23 for 51 (.451/.556/1.098) 7 2Bs, 1 3B, 8HR, 15RBI
With sky high expectations for 2017, a nagging ankle injury kept the 24-year-old out for the majority of yet another season. The distress of fans and even “sources” from the Yankee front office lead to questioning about the severity of the injury, and Bird’s toughness.
Now he’s 100%, was successful in his rehab starts, and has a chance to silence his many critics. Joe Girardi gave him the start on Saturday, and he went 1 for 2 with a couple walks—looking comfortable with his approach. Fans and executives alike would love big things from Bird in the stretch run, and Girardi is confident in his guy, “I think he can have a big impact.”