Of course, the Yankees were not as bad as they appeared on May 21 and they certainly are not as good as they have been in the last nine games. The big thing is that they have now put themselves in position to play solid baseball the rest of the season and have a great chance to again see postseason ball. All the more remarkable is that during this stretch, the Yankees continue to miss Brett Gardner which leads to the overexposure of Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones. They were also without their two biggest cogs in the bullpen and David Robertson has only just recently returned. Despite the lost of Rivera and Robertson in the bullpen, that ragtag bunch of Clay Rapada, Cory Wade, Cody Eppley, David Phelps and Freddy Garcia only cost the Yankees two wins since that late-May low point.
The surge has put the Yankees on pace to win 99 games. Could anyone have seen that being the case a month ago? Ken Davidoff of the New York Post has a comical daily bit on Twitter where he finds unique ways to state over and over the final records of the Yankees and Mets this season. His win total of 97 wins for the Yankees was scoffed at for the first two month. It is not being scoffed at any more.
It would seem impossible for the Yankees to continue to get this kind of production from its starting pitching. This has been an extraordinary run for Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda. Andy Pettitte has been solid. But on the flip side, the most runs the Yankees have allowed during this run have come from the pitching arm of C.C. Sabathia. You would think that Sabathia would be better in the next month or so than he has been in his last month of work. Ivan Nova just seems solid and should continue to win. Kuroda will have his good days and his bad days depending on his location and Phil Hughes will go as far as his fastball will take him.
And unlike the Red Sox, Rays and Orioles, the Yankees have options in Triple-A and in Freddy Garcia they can call upon if something happens to any of the starters. All of the Rays’ bright pitching stars are now with the major league club. The Red Sox have nothing in Triple-A except for castoffs and fliers from other teams. The Orioles have no pitching depth whatsoever. The Yankees are in a unique position to maintain a rotation throughout the rest of the season.
The offense has no depth and that is a major concern. There are no players in the upper levels of the minors that can take over positions if the Yankees were to lose a regular. The Empire State Yankees have Jack Cust and Russell Branyan as DH types, but that helps little if a Yankee infielder would go down for any length of time (heaven forbid). But let’s say that everyone stays healthy, then this current group of Yankee batters really haven’t hit their stride yet. Nick Swisher has better career numbers than his current numbers. Alex Rodriguez hasn’t had a hot streak and Robinson Cano is just starting to look like his normal self. In other words, this offense is even better than it has currently been performing.
The Yankees were not as bad as they looked on May 21. And they are not as good as their current 19-4 run. But they have put themselves in a position to win 95 to 99 games this season and that should be more than enough to put them in the playoffs.