After a 4-game losing streak that began with the Yankees dropping a series to the lowly Tigers and extending into Cleveland with defensive miscues – along with Corey Kluber’s slider – the Yanks salvaged a 3-4 record this week.
Here’s the stats that tell the story of the Bombers’ past 7 days of action:
Leaving runners in scoring position
Their 4-game losing streak was characterized by some defensive mishaps, but largely the trouble was leaving guys in scoring position.
Tue vs DET: 2-for-9 with RISP
Wed vs DET: 0-for-9 with RISP
Thu @ CLE: 0-for-3 with RISP
Fri @ CLE: 1-for-5 with RISP
That’s 3-for-26 over 4 games, good for a .113 average. Both Didi and Judge, who typically hit well with RISP (.318 and .296 hitters with RISP, respectively) went a combined 0-for-7. While much of the talk in the media has emphasized the problems with runners in scoring position this past week, it’s something that this Yankee team has struggled with all year.
The team currently ranks as the 4th worst team in the MLB in leaving runners in scoring position. They leave 3.66 men in scoring position per game, which is just short of the MLB lead that the Indians hold (3.89 RISP per game). Perhaps the Yankees’ meager numbers with RISP can also help explain their poor record in one run games in 2017: 12-20.
The strikeout epidemic
They rank 7th worst in both Ks (992) and Ks per game (9.02). Additionally, their 22.9% K rate is good for the 8th worst in baseball, and their 30.4% K rate in their past 3 games is the 3rd worst. Surprisingly enough, the Yankees had the 5th BEST ranking in Ks per game in 2016 (7.33).
Heading back to work after the All-star break, the largest question looming around the Yankees was how to fix their bullpen. This forced Cashman’s hand to go get some help, and so far, the move to acquire Robertson and Kahnle has paid off.
Since Houdini’s return to pinstripes, he’s been his same consistent self: 9.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 12 K, 0 BB (2.00 ERA). Tommy Kahnle has been solid as well: 8.2IP, 6H, 2ER, 12K (2.08ERA). Couple this with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman making the right adjustments, the Yankees once again have a deep and talented pen.
Betances looked as sharp as ever and his last 5 appearances show his improvement: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 10 K, 3 BB, 0 ER. Same goes for Chapman, whose last 6 appearances have been lights out (he can thank Gardy for that): 6.2 IP, 3 H, 8 K, 0 BB, 0 ER.
Recent success has propelled the team to the lowest bullpen batting average against in the Majors (.209). They rank 4th among MLB bullpens with a 3.23 ERA, and 3rd in strikeouts with 430.
Brett Gardner and yes, even Chase Headley, have played integral roles in the wins the Yankees picked up this past week.
Defensively, Gardner was phenomenal; he threw a laser beam to home to keep the score within one on Tuesday, and of course, made a leaping catch at the wall in the bottom of the 9th on Saturday. The catch at the wall helped put an end to the Yankees’ 4-game losing streak and helps make an argument for Gardy to win his second consecutive Gold Glove.
Newly appointed first basemen Chase Headley made a boneheaded play in Sonny Gray’s debut but came up huge to put the Yanks up on Saturday night. His solo shot in the 8th put the Yanks up 2-1, and Betances and Chapman got the last 6 outs, halting their 4-game slide. During the Cleveland series, Headley went 4-for-12 with 1 HR, and 2 RBI. Since the All-Star break, he has been one of their more consistent hitters, going 28-for-82 (.341/.512/.894) with 8 2B, 2 HR, and 8 RBI.
Luis Severino’s dominance
After the gem he tossed in Sunday’s 8-1 win over Cleveland, Sevvy further confirmed that he is the ace of this pitching staff. Finally locating that 98-99 MPH fastball, nasty hard slider, and devastating changeup, there is a newfound confidence that Severino now exudes on the bump. Since the All-Star break: 32.2 IP, 21 H, 38 K, 3 ER, 0.83 ERA. Severino leads baseball in ERA in the second half.