Thursday, July 13, 2017

Yankees First Half Season Review

I haven't written about the Yankees at all this year. Hell, I've barely written about anything at all this year. But anyway, I'm here to break down the first half of the Yankees season and look towards the second half. 

The Yankees' season started with a pretty fantastic April, a mediocre May but stayed in or around first place for the most part. The beginning of June started with a 6 game winning streak. However, the June 9-11 series against the Baltimore Orioles was the last time the Yankees won a friggin series. They've gone 0-7-1 in series since that point. The worst part is they haven't even been playing great teams in that stretch, save for a 3 game set in Houston. After that series sweep against Baltimore, the Yankees were 4 games up in the AL East, and after losing 18 of their final 25 games before the All Star break, the Yankees are now 3.5 games behind Boston. So that's how the roller coaster season has gone so far for the Yanks.

The Good
Aaron. Judge. This guy is simply incredible. They had said that throughout his pro career that when he fails at one level, he conquers it the next season. Well he is certainly conquering his first full major league campaign this season. I'm just glad that the Yankees brought him up in August last year to let him play everyday for the most part, so he could come into the spring with adjustments made. And boy has he made them. Despite being on pace to strike out more than 200 times this season, he has cut down his strikeout percentage by almost 10%. He is hitting the ball to all fields, with power and for average. He is sitting at .329/.448/.691 with a 1.139 OPS, 30 HR, 66 RBI and 75 runs scored. The guy is an absolute monster and I love him. Current frontrunner for the MVP.

The young starters are carrying the Yankees right now. Luis Severino has had a very good first half. A few inconsistent starts wrapped up his all star first half, but he's still the best pitcher the Yankees have. He strikes a lot of batters out and doesn't walk very many which is a great sign. I expect him to come out firing on all cylinders after the timely all star break. The second best starter is rookie Jordan Montgomery. He earned the fifth spot in the rotation in the spring and has been very solid. An ERA in the mid-3s might just earn him second place in the rookie of the year voting (behind Judge obviously). Walks hurt Montgomery early but expect his numbers to get even better as he really starts to hone in his command at the big league level. He's a former Gamecock so it was tough to accept at first, but I love Gumby if he continues to pitch as well as he has. 

A few other bright spots. Gary Sanchez, Starlin Castro, Matt Holliday, Didi Gregorious and Aaron Hicks have all been very productive when on the field. This lineup is so deep when healthy and it's the clear strength of the team. You can't pitch around Judge every at bat when he's followed by El Gary AKA The Kraken mashing behind him. He ended the half in a slump but he still earned an all star bid while only playing a little more than 50 games. Castro has had a breakout season really putting up solid numbers and he earned an all star bid as well. Holliday is probably the best offseason free agent signing made by any team. For the amount the Yankees are paying him, the production they're getting from him isn't fair. Hicks is having a breakout season after an awful 2016. Didi is one of the best shortstops in baseball. This lineup is incredible when healthy.

The Bad
Injuries. The Yankees got hit with the injury bug in June as CC, Castro, Hicks and Holliday went down. Sanchez and Didi were out for all of April basically. Chapman missed over a month. It's tough to win a lot of games when this many impact players go down, and go down all at the same time. However the Yanks are still above .500 and should be getting Castro and Holliday back soon. Chapman seems to be returning to form after struggling a bit when coming back from the DL as well.

First base and third base, typical power positions have been just about awful for the Yankees. First base especially. Greg Bird had a fantastic spring, but lingering pain from a foul ball off his ankle hampered his start and went to the DL after 60 at bats hitting .100. He has yet to return and some are worried he won't return at all this season. We Yankees fans were lucky enough to witness Chris Carter fill in for the most part as he struck out almost every at bat, didn't live up to the power he had last year with Milwaukee, and eventually became a horrid fielder as well. Dude couldn't even catch balls right at his chest from shortstop. Chase Headley had a solid April but he has mostly flat out sucked since. He had a little hot streak for about two weeks when everyone else was sucking but that's about it. I like Chase Headley the person, but Chase the ballplayer can get off my team.

The Ugly
The bullpen. They started off fine. Betances and Chapman were dealing. Clippard seemed to be decent in the 7th. Warren was great. But then injuries to Chapman and Warren forced Clippard into bigger roles, in which he absolutely SUCKED. I want him off this team right now. He's horrible. Betances thrived as the fill in closer, but for some reason Betances ended his first half in a real funk. He went from a 0.40 ERA to a 3.29 ERA in about a week. It was embarrassing to watch. He's walking a ton of guys and he needs to figure it out. The bullpen has blown a bunch of leads during this shitty stretch and it has to stop for the Yankees to go far.

Joe Girardi's stupid fucking face.

The Second Half
I'm expecting the Yankees to make a trade for another solid bullpen arm. It just simply has to happen. The starters have been inconsistent but the bullpen needs to be lock down almost every game. It's just how the game works these days. Starters go 6 innings and then 3 arms need to shut down teams the rest of the way. Especially with Binder Joe at the helm. Some say the Yanks need to trade for another starter but I say we just call up Chance Adams. He's balling in AAA and I think he's earned his shot. Honestly, trade Michael Pineda for whatever you can get for him now because he STINKS and call up Adams. Tanaka has been horrible but you don't just have 3 fantastic seasons to start your career and then forget how to pitch. I'm confident in him figuring out whatever is making him suck and he'll be OK. CC has been a pretty surprising solid back end of the rotation guy. Sevy and Gumby are the top two right now in the rotation. As far as the offense goes, the Yankees acquired a first baseman from the Brewers today who is having a breakout season in AAA this year. I don't know what to expect from him if he gets called up but it's probably gonna be better than Ji Man Choi and Austin Romine platooning first base. Also, getting some of these guys back from injuries might as well be trades. I'm not sure what the plan is with Clint Frazier when guys come back but as far as I'm concerned, don't take him out of the line up right now because he's been one of the lone bright spots since being called up July 1st. And if the Yanks do make a trade, I'd prefer not to lose Torres, Frazier, Adams, Rutherford or Sheffield but it might be difficult to get a solid piece without giving up one of them.

I think the Yankees will win the division unless Boston makes a trade that really puts them above others. Their third base problem is worse than the Yanks so if they make a big trade for a third baseman, that will scare the shit out of me. The Yankees have the best offense in the AL behind Houston and will only get better when they get guys back. They also have a run differential in the +90s despite only being 4 games over .500 right now. That usually means the team will start winning some more games. They're losing a lot of one run games which isn't good, but they have the capability to absolutely crush teams relentlessly when they win. We've got a big 4 game series this weekend right out of the gate up in Boston. This series can go a long way in how New York feels about the rest of the second half.