Heading to the stretch run can anybody make any sense of this team?
1. The Yankees have stolen eight bases in 12 attempts since the all star break. Rickey Henderson used to do that in one weekend series. Stolen bases are only the tip of the iceberg. When bats get heavy as the season rolls along and Earl Weaver's favorite offense, the three run home run, comes to a screeching halt, then it's time to diversify. That means small ball, which includes base stealing, needs to take over. Six of the Yankees' total of 13 losses in August came by one run. A manufactured run here and there could have made all the difference.
2. They keep bringing Chris Capuano back and he gets worse every time. Another pick off the DFA scrap heap and it will be Capuano #5, tying Billy Martin for the franchise record of returns from oblivion. Capuano is expected to help Scranton in the playoffs, which can only mean that, once that's over, another stop in the Bronx is possible.
3. The Yanks just struggled through a 5-5 homestand, which started with a three game sweep of the Twins, so it's 2-5 over the last 7 games, which is terrible. The Yankees should never play that bad at home.
4. It is clear that CC Sabathia's improved velocity in recent starts has come at a price. A return is possible this year, but it's likely CC will finally be in the bullpen this time.
5. Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting .233 with a .267 on base percentage since the break. Ellsbury returned from the DL just prior to the break and was hitting .324 at that time, Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez have each hit .202 since the break. Add Brian McCann's ,214 since the break, and of the usual first five hitters, only Mark Teixeira is hitting well (.295), that is, he was until he fouled a pitch off his leg. Stephen Drew is hitting only .236 in the same period, but wait, that's an improvement.
6. Still, the Yankees appear to be on their way to the playoffs, even if it is for only one game. Hope springs eternal and all that. There are positives including the rotation where Masahiro Tanaka and Nathan Eovaldi have pitched well. Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda might be able to shake their recent woes, and if they do. it would be a potent rotation. Luis Severino may be an ace in the making, but I'm sure the Yankees would settle for a solid number three starter, So far, Severino has been better than that.
7. The bullpen is also a positive but with no starter expected to reach 200 innings, the bullpen has had to pick up the slack which could affect their September performances.
8.With Alex Rodriguez slumping this might be the perfect time for a rest. No longer a position player, grabbing some bench for the next three games in Atlanta might be what the doctor ordered. Expect no more than three plate appearances for A-Rod, unless of course the Yankees bat around in an inning in which A-Rod hits. We can dream.
9. As a fan of the Yankees for many years, I can always remember the precise point in the season that I got that feeling the team is going to be special and could be a champion. That feeling has come at different times of the season. For example, in 1978. it wasn't until September when the Yankees swept, and otherwise annihilated the Red Sox in the now famous "Boston Massacre" did I get that feeling. In 1998 it happened much earlier, in early June. The last championship, 2009 I recall it happening in August, also following a sweep of the Red Sox. To date there has been no such feeling with the 2015 edition. I'm still waiting.
10. With the current playoff system the Yankees are in line to at least get the play-in game come October. Though they are not out of the race for the division by any means, the wild card remains a strong fallback possibility. If the last seven games are any indication of what is in store for the Yankees down the stretch, then they are in a world of hurt. But several times this year they have bounced back from each sudden letdown. Time for one more resurgence.
Yes, hope springs eternal.
Yes, hope springs eternal.