The Yankees may have won last night’s game and avoided a sweep at the hands of the Angels but I am sure they are probably very happy to be turning the page on this past month. They ended up going 14-14. When I wrote my April month in review post, I predicted the Yankees would go 17-11 in May. I wasn’t off by much but no, I’m not predicting anything for this next month. Maybe they’ll do better without my prognosticating.
The same problems that seemed to plague the Yankees last May, reared their ugly heads again this May. The main culprit? RISP. They didn’t lack runners in scoring position – they had plenty of them. The problem was, they didn’t score. If Yankee fans had invented an “RISP” drinking game in which shots would be downed whenever a broadcaster mentioned how bad the Yankees were/are with runners in scoring position in May, well, most of those fans would be dead and buried by now. Hell, I wouldn’t be alive to write this post.
The Yankees’ numbers with RISP were pretty bad (and their numbers with the bases loaded were especially atrocious.) The team ranks 25 out of 30 and are averaging 3.84 runners left on base for the season. In this last series against the Angels, the number jumped up to 4.67. Their home and away splits are 3.46 and 4.20.
Another thing about May was the injuries the team suffered. The Yankees lost Mariano Rivera for the season, David Robertson is still out, as is Brett Gardner. Every team in the majors has been hit by the injury bug but losing Rivera was as big a blow as a team can get. Do the Yankees have pitchers to cover the ninth inning? Sure. But they’re not Mo. There’s a big difference between seeing Mariano Rivera jogging out from the bullpen to seeing Boone Logan or Rafael Soriano. (No offense to Logan and Soriano.)
That’s not to say that there haven’t been good moments in May. Far from it. In fact, Andy Pettitte who returned to the Yankees on May 13, provided Yankee fans with two of those moments. He suffered a shaking off the rust, tough luck loss in his first game back but in his next start on May 18, he threw eight innings of shutout ball against the Cincinnati Reds for his first win of the season. On May 23, Pettitte once again had a strong outing, this time lasting seven innings and only giving up two runs on seven hits. And during the week of May 7, the Yankees defeated James Shields, David Price and Felix Hernandez. Not too shabby.
Still, some things need to improve.
The starting pitching has been iffy at best. Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova both have ERA’s north of five and seem to be in a race to see who can give up the most home runs. The Yankees as a team lead the league in home runs against. As of last night the pitching staff had given up 54 home runs. Hughes has given up at least one in every one of his starts.
CC Sabathia is 6-2 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He was 3-2 in May. Hiroki Kuroda has continued his hot/cold act. His record sits at 4-6 and his ERA is 3.96. His WHIP is 1.37. The aforementioned Pettitte is 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. He suffered a loss on Tuesday night in Anaheim which was his first road start.
Considering the losses the bullpen has suffered so far with Rivera and Robertson being out, guys like Cory Wade and Logan have picked up the slack. Rafael Soriano, while not making them easy, is 6-6 in save opportunities so far.
I already mentioned the RISP issue but some things have gone well for the Yankees offensively. Robinson Cano has remembered how to hit and now has eight home runs, Curtis Granderson is still hitting home runs and while he’s not launching balls of the park with much regularity, Alex Rodriguez is still hitting the ball and getting on base. Oh and Mark Teixeira seems to have been cured of the cough that plagued him most of the month. Derek Jeter has cooled off a bit but I don’t think anyone was expecting him to continue his torrid hitting pace. He’s still batting a very respectable .336.
Amazingly, even with the .500 record for the month, the Yankees are now only one and a half games out of first place and the whole American League East Division is only separated by two and half games.
It should be an interesting summer to say the least.