Are the Yankees the Best Team in the American League?

[Please note: This post was written yesterday before Kansas City won and the Yankees, Astros and Twins all lost.]

The Yankees are 33-25, tying them with Houston, Minnesota and Kansas City for the best record on the American League. The Yankees have been on top of the AL East for most of the season, but this is the first time that they are on top of the whole American League.

They’ve scored 271 runs (4.67 per game) and allowed 236 (4.07 per game), giving them a perfectly-matched 33-25 pythagorean record. Despite a killer back end of the bullpen, they are just 8-8 in one-run games. They’ve had key players (Ellsbury, Tanaka), miss a lot of time. Arod and Teixeira might come down to earth, but there is no evidence that the Yankees are just getting lucky to start the season.

Are they the best team in the American League? Let’s compare them to the teams they are tied with:

Houston Astros (34-26, 4.13 RS/G, 3.90 RA/G, 11-8 in 1-run games, 32-28 Expected)

I don’t buy the Astros.…

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Game 59 Recap: Nationals 5 Yankees 4 (11 Innings)

Lindgren vs WAS

Shucks. Courtesy of Getty Images

Objectively this game sucked.  It should have been a win, it wasn’t, and to lose in extras when you come back late and then give one away always hurts.  GIven that the Yankee had won 7 straight prior to this 1 loss, and given the more important long-term developments with Andrew Miller, this has to be chalked up as a bump in the road and something from which you just move on.

It was a slow go early for the Bombers.  They managed a paltry 2 hits off Washington starter Gio Gonzalez through 6 innings.  Lotta GB outs and no real scoring opportunities.  It was a shame too, because despite a few rough patches it was actually a pretty good outing for Nathan Eovaldi.  He gave up a run in the 3rd on back-to-back doubles and another in the 5th on a hanging curve to Danny Espinosa that ended up as a solo home run.  …

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Quick hit: Miller placed on the 15-day DL

Well, this isn’t good news but explains why we didn’t see Miller in the game at all today:

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About Last Night And Other Thoughts

Teix-McCann vs TB

The New York Yankees have now won seven games in a row and have built back their AL East leading margin to two and a half games. Life is feeling pretty good right now. Masahiro Tanaka has given the team two great starts and the Yankees are getting timely hits of the big fly variety and the one base at a time type too. Let’s look at a few things to bask in this little glow (before dark clouds roll in).

The impressive part of this win streak is that Yankee starting pitchers have won six of the seven games. In other words, they have all pitched well enough to stay in the game, have competed and have come out ahead. Tanaka, of course, has been VERY encouraging. But CC Sabathia, Adam Warren, Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda have all won games in this streak. That is encouraging and impressive.

With Ivan Nova in the wings and the way these starters are pitching, does that buzz for Cole Hamels at the expense of prospects still sound like a good idea?…

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Game 58 Recap: Yankees 6 Nationals 1

Tanaka vs WAS

Courtesy of Getty Images

The big draw in last night’s 2-game series opener against the Nationals was the starting pitching matchup.  Max Scherzer vs. Masahiro Tanaka is one of the best possible pitching matchups in baseball today and those 2 didn’t disappoint.  The defense and relief work of Washington did in the late innings, however, and the Yankees capitalized to run their winning streak to 7.

So that Scherzer-Tanaka matchup.  It definitely lived up to its billing through the first 6 innings.  Tanaka retired the Nats in order over the first 3 innings, recording 7 of the 9 outs by way of strikeout or groundout.  He was running his fastball into the mid-90s, his sinker had good movement down in the zone, and the slider and splitter were on point as swing-and-miss pitches.  Scherzer wasn’t quite as dominant.  His only clean inning was the bottom of the 1st.  But he did get 7 swinging strikeouts over 6 and made some big pitches to get key groundouts with men on to kill potential 2-out rallies.…

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Game 58: Scherzer vs. Tanaka

Here is your game thread for this evening. Tonight’s lineups are:

Washington Nationals New York Yankees
Denard Span, CF Brett Gardner, LF
Anthony Rendon, 3B Chase Headley, 3B
Yunel Escobar, DH Alex Rodriguez, DH
Bryce Harper, RF Mark Teixeira, 1B
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B Brian McCann, C
Clint Robinson, LF Carlos Beltran, RF
Wilson Ramos, C Didi Gregorius, SS
Ian Desmond, SS Stephen Drew, 2B
Danny Espinosa, 2B Ramon Flores, LF
Max Scherzer, SP Masahiro Tanaka, SP

Enjoy the game!

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Pregame Notes: June 9th

Good evening from Yankee Stadium where Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper are here to spoil the Yankees’ winning streak which is now out to 6 games. Here’s what we learned pregame:

  • Max Scherzer “tried to elevate and do some things” last time he faced the Yankees, according to Joe Girardi, so they anticipate some fastballs up in the zone. Scherzer comes in hot, having won his first ever Pitcher of the Month in the month of May – he gave up eight earned runs in 43 innings.
  • Ivan Nova threw 75 pitches in a rehab assignment and recorded 12 groundball outs, which impressed Girardi. He’ll throw more pitches in his next outing, which will come in AAA. Girardi said the team probably wants Nova to throw over 85 pitches before they bring him up to the Majors, but didn’t rule out Nova’s next rehab outing being his last.
  • Alex Rodriguez held a press conference for the spanish media and said he feels like he’s a rookie again.
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Quick Hit: Some More Slow And Steady Progress From Didi

A little over a month ago, I wrote a short post discussing the upward trend in Didi Gregorius’ play after his miserable first few weeks.  He had just started to hit a little better and field a little better, and while I wouldn’t say there was a huge wave of support for him in the comment section, there was a general sense of “let’s give him some more time and see how he does”.  That was the smart and reasonable way to look at the situation at the time, so kudos to all of us who were smart and reasonable enough to do so.

Here we are a month later and I’m happy to report that the slow and steady upward trend in Didi’s performance has continued.  From .222/.288/.250 in early May to .238/.294/.311 today, Didi has swung the bat much better in recent weeks and has been rewarded for it.  I touched on some of the key figures that support this trend on Twitter yesterday, from the improvement in OPS:

To the drastic improvement in hard contact rate:

They all add up to a young player who is continuing to settle into his new environment and new role, and that’s a very encouraging sign.  …

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