Monday, May 18, 2015

An uneven road for the Yankees

After Sunday’s 6-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees have book-ended a 20-8 stretch with a 1-4 start and a 1-5 slump. The Yankees might not be as good as that run, but they surely are not as bad as those slides either.

With an off-day Monday, the Yankees will travel to Washington, D.C. to take on the red-hot Nationals for a quick two-game set before returning home. The Yankees are currently 2-5 on the road trip, scoring just 11 runs in their last six games.

The Yankees recent slide came off the heels of a big offensive outburst in which they scored 11 runs and blasted five home runs. They were able to give CC Sabathia his first win of the season, despite the big lefty allowing four runs (three earned). More surprising, is that the Yankees only other win during the road trip was turned in by Sabathia in a much better seven-inning one-run performance against the Royals. In that game, the Yanks hit two homers and scored five runs. Sabathia was once receiving minimal run support, but in his last two starts, he’s been the benefactor of 16 runs, compared to six in the other five games for the rest of the staff.

Looking through last week’s losses, the Yankees could have won two of them – the middle-two games of the series with the Rays. The others, including Michael Pineda’s last start, were out of reach. Pineda was hanging tough in his appearance, down 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Royals, before the bottom fell out. It extended the Yanks’ losing streak to a season-long four games. Pineda, the unquestioned ace at this time, failed to produce the stop the Yankees needed allowing five runs on 10 hits.

When the starters were OK, troubling appearances by middle-relievers did them in. The offense was truly the main concern, but the Yanks also missed a couple of opportunities to hand games over to Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller (to be fair, they did get one to Betances, but he allowed two inherited runners to score go-ahead runs for the Rays).

The point is the Yankees didn’t exactly get steam-rolled during the past week. But, a loss is a loss, and they gave back three games in the American League East in the process after reaching a high-water mark of nine games over .500 (21-12).

Despite the poor road trip, the Yankees are 13-10 away from the Bronx. They are 9-7 at home. Once the series with the Nationals is over, they’ll have played nine more games on the road than at home. They are in New York for a six-game stretch beginning Friday and then head out west for seven games; four against the Oakland Athletics and three versus the Seattle Mariners. So, the schedule is not going to get easier. The Yanks don’t catch up on the home games until mid-August into September.

The Yankees will eventually bust out of the offensive slump, and hopefully the starting pitching continues to hold its own. If the middle-relievers and setup situation stabilizes, there is little worry at the back end of the bullpen. A lot needs to go right and soon. The Yankees would love to put another 20-8 stretch together, but it remains to the seen if this team as currently constructed has it in them.

I pegged the Yankees for 87 wins this season. They would have to go 65-58 the rest of the way. I think they can easily do this despite their shortcomings. The AL East is completely up for grabs with no team (besides the Yankees before last week) showing they can put together lengthy winning stretches.

Yankees logo courtesy of SportsLogos.net.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports 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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