Monday, April 13, 2015

Yankees remain a mystery one week into season

The New York Yankees have completed their first week of the regular season and the results have been inconsistent to say the least. Their 2-4 record puts them in last place in the American League East as they begin a 10-game road trip Monday.

There is just as much evidence pointing to that being a good reflection of the club’s future as there is that the record is an aberration.

The Yankees began the season with several question marks, none of which could be answered in a week, but we can investigate where they are heading at the present time.

Rotation


Certainly there have been some ups and downs as expected in the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka looked better in Sunday night’s win over the Boston Red Sox, but much like Opening Day he suffered an inning in which the wheels fell off. Fortunately, the Yankees held a seven-run lead in his second start so Tanaka’s three-run (two-earned) lapse was not detrimental.

Much of the concern surrounding Tanaka has been whether or not he is healthy and the overstated “issues” with his velocity. He looked a bit more crisp in Sunday’s performance and was regularly hitting 91-92 on the radar gun, exactly where is sat much of last season. The concerns over Tanaka will continue to linger until he gets more swing and misses and resembles the pitcher that was more or less lights out last season.

Michael Pineda was very good in his start, but did not factor into the decision. He was completely on his game, and could be the Yankees best pitcher this season if he can avoid injury.

CC Sabathia suffered a poor inning in his outing, but showed signs he can still get the job done with eight strikeouts in his 5.2 innings. His velocity it was it is (88-90 mph fastball), but his placement and movement looked better than any of his Spring Training starts. He scattered eight singles in the performance of which just a few were hard hit balls.

Nathan Eovaldi allowed three earned runs and eight hits with just one strikeout in 5.1 innings against the Red Sox and unfortunately those stats reflect much of what he looked like last season. The Yankees have been working with Eovaldi to bump his strikeout totals due to his big-time fastball, but it did not come to fruition in his first start.

Adam Warren pitched well in his first start of the season allowing two runs (one earned) in 5.1 innings. He struck out just one batter, walked two and gave up five hits. Warren is trying to pitch himself into a situation where he remains the fifth starter when Chris Capuano returns. He's on his way to doing so.

Bullpen


Simply stated, this has been the highlight of the club’s first week. As a whole the group has done its job and excelled in spots. The relief crew has pitched to a 1.93 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a .178 BAA in 32.2 innings. The number of innings is inflated due to the 19-inning marathon Friday night into Saturday morning.


Offense


After the first five games, the Yankees were slashing .193/.280/.342 but they raised that to .233/.318/.404 with their 14-run, 16-hit outburst Sunday night. Alex Rodriguez continues to show he can be productive if healthy. The 39-year-old designated hitter is slashing .300/.417./550 with two doubles and a home run. He leads the team with six RBI.

Brian McCann and Brett Gardner own OPS of .833 and .839 respectively. Chase Headley and Mark Teixeira are each hitting .222, but have a couple of homers apiece.

On the flip side, Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius are all hitting under the Mendoza line and none of them owns an OPS over .500.

Base-running


Ugly is about the best term to describe the Yanks on the base paths thus far. They have been picked off three times and are just 2-for-6 in stolen base attempts. They’ve made poor decisions on the bases as well with Gregorius playing the Yankees out of rallies on two separate occasions with his blunders.

Defense


What was expected to be a strength for the club has been one of its bigger detriments early on. The Yankees have been flat out messy in the field and it is mostly the infielders causing the problems. The Yanks have committed nine errors already this season with Drew and Headley picking up two each.

Behind the plate, McCann has four wild pitches against him (at least two of which he could have stopped), while backup John Ryan Murphy has two passed balls in just 19 innings.

The Yankees pitchers have been victimized by the defensive efforts to the tune of eight unearned runs (out of 32 total runs allowed).

In all, the Yankees could be 4-2 as easily as they are 2-4. The extra-inning affair could have gone their way with a couple of breaks. If Tanaka or Sabathia don't have meltdowns in their first starts they might have had a chance to win one of those games as well.

The rotation needs to go deeper into games soon or the bullpen is going to get worn-out quickly. The offense must find some consistency as a unit and some players need to find their stroke before long. Finally, the mess on the bases and in the field has to be reversed. This club cannot afford to waste run-scoring opportunities and it certainly cannot give runs away.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

Yankees logo provided by SportsLogos.net.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a correspondent for FantasyPros, where he writes a weekly column covering the closer/bullpen situations around Major League Baseball. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



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