Whaddayou know, the Yanks are half-a-game in front for the lead in the AL East (also by virtue of having played three games less than the Red Hots), and depending on how you look at it either are the best team in MLB by winning percentage or third best by total wins. This without being at full strength too; Tanaka and Montgomery are missing from the starting rotation, Gary Sanchez is taking a ten-day trip to the DL after a really unlucky/startlingly poor start offensively and the New Monster On The Block being relatively average to sub-optimal. That’s not to mention Greg Bird finally getting healthy enough to contribute Heinz horseshit at the plate. But we know what the deal is. Judge is seeming to make some adjustments and settling into a productive streak, whether or not that means more tank jobs is relative at this point. Sir Didi is also slowly getting back on track, while Hicks and Gardner have both continued to contribute when you least expect it. Severino is the unquestioned Lord of the Rotation and there’s promise with German and the Thunder from AA Under, Jonathan “Johnny Lasagna” Loaisiga. Austine Romine is the new Francisco Cervelli (hopefully without the juice) and of course, our true MVPs are the kids the team didn’t think were ready to even start the season with the big team; Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. How bad do you think the Yanks would have fallen off without these two?
So with all that, maybe we can discuss what the Yanks can do to sustain their current level of productivity and perhaps build on it. There’s an obvious need for another top flight starter to share the burden of being consistently good with Sevi. Sonny Gray is not the guy; if he’s inconsistent with Romine as his caddy, what will it come to when he has no choice but to pitch consistently with Sanchez? It’s a problem many wink at, but few really want to get into depth about. C.C. is older now, and old for a starter of his stature and accumulated mileage. He’s had a few bad luck starts, but mainly he hasn’t been able to stretch the game enough to give the bullpen a break (back to that soon). German is not the guy… yet. He and Johnny are both tasked with difficult missions; hold down the rotation until reinforcements arrive. The latter has been brilliant in two starts, but the sample is still insignificant. German has been alternately brilliant and lousy, but again you can’t blame him so much because he was supposed to be getting innings on the farm like Justus Sheffield (which makes you wonder what’s going on with Chance Adams, who is ostensibly the next starter on the call-up list were it not for Johnny skipping the line). Tanaka had also been on/off from the start, which seems to have become his M.O. the last couple of years. So what can all this inconsistency be attributed to? Could the difference be as simple as age, or when Sevi sought advice/training with fellow D.R. compatriot and the Yanks’ nemesis Pedro Martinez? Hmmm… if he ends up winning the Cy Young or dominating in the playoffs, I would certainly advocate for the Yanks putting aside their differences (or pride) and hiring Pedro as their minor league pitching guru before anyone else gets the idea (that is, if Pedro is capable of doing the same).
As for the bench, they have to figure out a way to get Fraizer and Drury back up; those guys are wasting away in Scranton and can contribute right away. Neil Walker, thanks for holding the fort down. Tyler Austin, I’d miss you, but we could get a good lefty relief pitcher for you and Shreve…. well, maybe not put a damper on things with a deal like that.
All in all, the Yanks are either in a good place or really fortunate, all things considered. They can deal from a position of strength if they want to, but I have a better feeling they will hold with what they have and replenish their pitching/catching stock in the minors. Still holding out hope that the few under-performers will get really hot soon (Stanton seems to thrive in the heat, and that hasn’t been a key feature in the Northeast of late) and they can keep two steps ahead of the Sox for the east. As has been the last few years, pitching will determine whether they pass or fail, and hopefully the rotation will not be out of gas when September and October become a thing.
Enjoy the game!