The Yankees are trying to get themselves out of the hole they dug in April. May was decent, and June is showing some promise. It's interesting to watch. Through their first 27 games, from April 5 to May 5, the Yankees went 9-17. Their hitting was DOA night after night. During those 27 games, the Yankees were hitting a paltry .232 with an OPS of .656. The pitching was mediocre, with an ERA of 4.39 and holding opposing batters to a .260 average. If we could erase those 27 games, if the season had started on May 6, the Yankees would be sitting on a 28-21 record. Not exactly running over opponents, but decent and competitive.
May 6 was when the turnaround started. Their batting average for the next 26 games was still at .231, but they started to hit home runs a little more and strike out a little less. Most of the credit for their 15-11 record during that stretch goes to their pitching. The Yankees' ERA dropped almost a half run to 3.91 and opposing hitters' average dropped 20 points to .240. You can point to CC Sabathia as the main contributor, settling in and looking more like he did in his prime. There were other contributors, like Aroldis Chapman's arrival, and Michael Pineda finally starting to pitch at major league level quality. But it felt like it was starting to come together.
When we look at the last 22 games, from June 2 to June 26, some exciting things started to happen. The Yankees batting average jumped to .280 and their OPS ran up to .760. Their strikeouts dropped noticeably. But they still only pulled a 13-9 record. Basically, the pitching regressed and offset progress in hitting. Their ERA during this time was 4.71 and opponents' batting average went up to .266.
So why am I walking you through all this? Because if you start to notice, things are starting to come together. This is not that much different from 1993 when the Yankees started stringing wins together even though the team wasn't championship caliber. I expect to see a lot more of this for the rest of this season. Hitting will look hot then grow cold. Pitching will look solid and then falter. Kids will come up from the minors and go back down again. This Yankees team will go a little over .500 and then a little under. My guess is that they'll finish about 10 games over .500, but you never know what will happen at the trade deadline.
I believe we are watching the passing of the torch from one generation of core Yankee players to another. We are finding out who can play and who cannot. Who will last and who's the flash in the pan. It's not so bad. The Core Four wasn't formed overnight. It's time like these that future championship teams are formed. And hey - it's progress.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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