Season Record: 62-33 (2nd in AL East)
Week at a Glance: (ALL STAR GAME!!!!!)
Recap it!: Well folks, it’s All-Star Game week, the one time of year where baseball’s best and brightest come together to compete in what is essentially the athletic equivalent of a bar fight with drunken ferrets, all energy and no direction. With that in mind (and no games until the end of the week), let’s try something different. In lieu of a traditional weekly recap, let’s do a short overview of where the Yankees are this season, and how they got there. Before we begin, a quick programming notice: Bombers’ Run will be on hiatus for the next two weeks. Fear not, though. This column will return on August 6th. (Did you really think you’d be rid of me that easily? NEVER, I SAY!). Without further ado, let’s have a looksee at where the Bronx Bombers stand, halfway into the 2018 campaign.
* 95 games in, the Yankees are 62-33, a very, very good record to have at this point of the season, even by their lofty standards. The trouble is, the Yankees find themselves in the ONE situation where winning at that pace may not get you the division crown. Directly ahead of the Yankees are the Boston Red Sox, sporting a 68-30 record and an 11-1 record in their last 12 games. Simply put, the Red Sox just refuse to lose, making this division race an uphill battle. There’s a distinct possibility that both teams will finish with 100 or more wins, and one will still have to play in the Wild Card play-in game. However, let’s put that behind us for now, and focus on who the key players at the midpoint:
* Boy, if I was Luis Severino, I’d be laughing at those reactionary weirdos on Twitter who wanted me run out on a rail two seasons ago until my backside literally fell off. Not to ride on those individuals too hard, since being hair-trigger, dime-store Nostradamuses is in a strange way part and parcel with being a sports fan, especially one with an *ahem*, loud segment of them chattering away on social media and writing columns (Goodness, I really am that person.) Nonetheless, Severino has blossomed into the bona-fide ace of the Yankees pitching staff, sporting a 14-2 record with a 2.38 ERA. Granted, part of that record can be attributed to the offense performing mostly up to preseason expectations (more on that later), but to his ample credit, Severino has been what the Yankees needed him to be. Special consideration goes to lefthander CC Sabathia, the Yankees grizzled veteran/leading exporter of grit/literal teddy bear, who has pitched to a 6-4 record with a 3.51 ERA. The 38-year-old southpaw successfully reinvented himself, compensating for lost velocity for pinpoint location and guile, outwitting and outthinking his opponents, armed with a cut-fastball gleaned for former stablemate/Core Four member Andy Pettitte.
* We were all expecting the Yankees offense to break records wholesale and for the most part, they have, hitting 161 total home runs, on pace to match the record of 264, which was set in 1997 by the Seattle Mariners, according to baseball-almanac.com. Leading the barrage of dingers is right fielder/very large person/gap-toothed dynamo Aaron Judge with 25 homers. Right behind him is left fielder/fellow very large person/shirtless dynamo Giancarlo Stanton with 23. Both have had solid campaigns so far, especially Stanton, who has overcome a sluggish start and boos from reactionary weirdos (Come on, I CAN’T be the only one noticing a pattern here!) to turn in a solid stretch of good hitting.
* I do know for a fact that no one, myself included, could have predicted at season start that the conversation around the Yankees lineup would be dominated by two rookies, third baseman Miguel Andujar and second baseman Gleyber Torres. Both have opened eyes so far. Torres has been a revelation, hitting .294 with 15 home runs and 42 RBIs. Andujar is no slouch either, with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs. He’s also been a doubles machine, leading the team with 27. Part of the reason why this lineup has been mostly as strong as it is is because of the emergence of these two, which marks a major difference in the makeup of the lineup when compared to last year. They’re more dynamic, able to get a ton of production from the latter part of the batting order, making it a challenge for some pitchers to navigate through.
Look Out For: Who comes up with a second half surge? Who will the Yankees add via trade? Can they overtake Boston and win the AL East?
Needs Some More Work: Catcher Gary Sanchez, currently on the DL with a groin injury is only hitting .190. I expect better hitting from him in the second half. And of course, there’s Mr. Inconsistent himself, starter Sonny Gray, who so far has pitched to a 5.46 ERA and a 6-7 record. He is struggling, and that’s putting it Mr. Rogers-level mildly. Now, I don’t want to turn into another one of those incessantly-clucking country hens on Twitter that want him burned at the stake (Man, hyperbole is really their native language, isn’t it?) so I will simply ask of Mr. Gray: Please pitch better. I believe you can, good sir.
Plea for the Second Half: So, I think we can all agree that the Yankees need a starter, right? The Yankees have the prospect strength to nab a top-flight pitcher, so the only question is who will it be? The Texas Rangers have made it known that Cole Hamels is available, along with the Toronto Blue Jays shopping J.A. Happ, but neither are the ace-quality starters that the Yanks require, to say nothing of the age concerns surrounding both. Therefore, as a sports columnist with absolutely NO power, I shall make my own pitch to the Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman. Trade with the Mets for either Jacob DeGrom or Noah Syndergaard. Of course, the prospect of such a deal happening while one or both of the Mets owners, the parsimonious, PR-obsessed Fred and Jeff Wilpon, is still on this side of the dirt is slim to nil. But still, the prospective trade makes too much sense to ignore. Both Syndergaard and DeGrom have pitched lights-out in Queens this season on a Mets team that, at 39-55, is cellar-dwelling in the NL East. They’re outpacing even the Miami Marlins on the scale of sheer ineptitude (Which, why???). The Mets are staring down the barrel of a full rebuild, and what better way to kickstart that process by getting some blue-chip prospects to help build the farm system back up? The Yankees need an ace, and the Mets need good players. What I’m really doing here is reaching across the aisle to speak on behalf of Mets faithful everywhere to make my pitch. A pitch so starry-eyed, heartfelt and near-mawkish that Sarah McLachlan will shoot up out of bed. To the Wilpons I say: Don’t Mets fans deserve some hope? Don’t you want some building blocks? Aren’t you tired of mediocrity? On second thought, don’t answer that one.
Meme/GIF of Mid-Season:
See you in August, dear readers!