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Yankees Quarter-Season report – The good, The bad, and the ugly

It’s about a quarter of the way through the Major League baseball season, so I figured it was a good idea to fire up the ol’ reliable;  The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly.

There has been a lot more good than bad and ugly, but the New York Yankees still have a ton to improve on.  Right now they’re tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox with a 28-12 record.  They’ve stormed back after a 9-9 start, erasing what was once a 7.5 game lead by the Red Sox.  There’s plenty to discuss, so let’s dig into it.

The Good

Luis Severino

Luis Severino has pitched as advertised.  He has dominated games and has become the ace of the Yankees’ staff.  If you were to say that two seasons ago when he was struggling in the bullpen, I would have laughed at you.  Regardless, Severino is 6-1 with a 2.14 ERA.  He is already a CY Young candidate and has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game.

Severino DOMINATED against the Red Sox just a week ago, pitching a complete game shutout and giving the Yankees a much needed win against their rivals.  He was actually robbed of two wins thanks to the bullpen, but as long as the Yankees are winning, he doesn’t care about his own wins and loss totals.  Look for him to continue to dominate the American League and hopefully have a better outing in the playoffs than his 0.1 innings of work against the Twins.

The kids

The Baby Bombers have been excellent since being brought up.  When I say kids, I don’t mean Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  I’m talking about Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.  I’ve touched on this before, but Torres and Andujar are wise beyond their years as hitters and have been tearing the cover off the ball.

Torres is batting .312 with three home runs and 12 RBI and has been clutch as all hell.  He already has a walk off hit, including a three run home run in a 7-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians.  He is smooth in the field like Robbie Cano and has shown the Yankees that he can be their every day second baseman for years to come.

Andujar is holding his own as well, batting .297 with three home runs and 16 RBI.  He struggled early in the season then went on a 15-game tear where it looked like he couldn’t get out.  He’s fallen back down to Earth a bit, but he’s still hovering around .300 and has had zero problems with his defense so far.  If anything, he’s looked pretty slick at the hot corner.  It will be interesting to see what happens when Brandon Drury comes back fully healthy, but all indications point to Andujar continuing to be the every day third baseman.

Aaron Judge

We can’t have a Good section of the Yankees without mentioning the mastery of Aaron Judge.  After finishing second in the AL MVP voting last year, Judge is having another excellent first half to his sophomore season.  He’s currently batting .311 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI.  His most impressive stat is his 34 walks, which leads the league.  Judge is the motor of this offense and has been exceptionally clutch as of late.

Judge also flashes his glove from time to time.  Whether it be his leaping grab over the wall against the Orioles earlier in the year, or his outfield assists against the Red Sox, Judge has an absolute rocket of an arm and a great glove.  He will be an All-Star for years to come and is an integral part of the Yankees core.

The Bad

Aaron Boone’s bullpen management

Sure the Yankees have gotten off to a hot start, but Aaron Boone is not free of criticism.  He’s made some very questionable decisions regarding his bullpen.  It feels like he’s relying on his lower end guys too much and not putting it on the shoulders of David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman.  I understand that Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren are injured, but you can’t be afraid to throw your big guns out there from time to time.

He is solely responsible for the Yankees’ loss against the Red Sox in the third game of their series.  Dellin Betances pitched great in his first inning of work, but why would you throw him out there for two innings when he’s much less effective historically?

In addition, relying on guys like Chasen Shreve and A.J. Cole has worked out so far for him, but they’re not top of the line guys for a reason.  Shreve nearly blew the game Sunday against the A’s and Jonathan Holder was lucky to get out of a bases loaded jam against the Red Sox.  It’s important to rest your best bullpen guys, but there needs to be better decisions made going forward.

Masahiro Tanaka’s inconsistency

Masahiro Tanaka is a hard case to crack.  He has at times looked like the ace the Yankees thought they got in 2014.  Other times, he looks to be one of the worst pitchers in the league.  Will the real Masahiro Tanaka please stand up?  This has been going on for years, but at some point Tanaka has to find some consistency.

Tanaka is currently 4-2, but he has a 4.66 ERA and has already given up eight home runs.  When he is on he one of the most dominant pitchers in the league, but when his splitter doesn’t split he looks like a lost soul out on the mound.  If the Yankees are going to go far in the playoffs, they need Tanaka to be the guy he was in the 2017 playoffs.

In fairness to him, he had his worst season as a professional with a 13-12 record and a 4.74 ERA.  He turned it on in the playoffs and was a world beater against the Twins.  However, we can’t assume that he’s going to be the same pitcher again when the lights get a little brighter.

The Ugly

Sonny Gray

You would think after the Yankees acquired Sonny Gray in a trade with the A’s last year that he would be used to pitching in the Bronx and would have settled into his role as the third/fourth starter in this good rotation.  You would be wrong, because Sonny Gray looks lost out there.

He is 2-3 with a 6.39 ERA, and that ERA doesn’t even do it justice.  He has been terrible of late, having only one quality start this year.  He still isn’t challenging hitters, is afraid to make a strikeout pitch, and was most recently shelled by an A’s team in the basement of the AL West.

There’s still plenty of time to recover from what is a disastrous start, but how long will the Yankees wait before they either send him to the DL or replace him in the rotation with one of their young guns?  The Yankees are always in a game because of their offense, but good pitching beats good hitting in the playoffs and Sonny Gray NEEDS to be better if the Yankees have any shot at a World Series this year.

Gary Sanchez’s defense

Probably the ugliest part of this early season is the defensive play of Gary Sanchez.  He hasn’t been great offensively so far, but he’s the best hitter on this Yankees’ team and will regain his form too.  However, he already has six passed balls a quarter of the way through the season and is on pace for his worst season yet.

The biggest issue I have with Sanchez’s defense is that it looks like it’s more effort than anything.  Sure his technique isn’t great, but balls that could easily be blocked seem to slip under his glove.  He isn’t fully committing to the defense that the Yankees need.  He still calls a hell of a game, but he needs to learn that in order to be a perennial All-Star he needs to play all sides of the ball.

Overall, the Yankees aren’t all bad.  They’re off to a fantastic start and had their best stretch since 1953 with their 18 wins in 19 games.  They were 11-2 against five of the best teams in the Major Leagues and they’ve won seven straight series.  Going forward, they’re going to need to correct a lot of the issues that they have.  Either way, they’re going to be a World Series contender for the rest of the season.  The pressure’s on, can they deliver?

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