New York Yankees: Contenders or Pretenders?

The New York Yankees have been the talk of the baseball world in what was supposed to be a “rebuilding” year. Of course the Yankees being the Yankees there is no such thing as rebuilding. Brian Cashman has done an excellent job constructing this team and getting rid of most of the big veteran contracts that have kept the Yankees from playing the younger guys. We are just about to finish up the month of June and head into the All-Star break and the Yankees are still in contention for the AL East.

Now the question most people are asking is: Are the Yankees going to make it back to the playoffs this year? My answer to that question is no. The reason I do not think we will see them when October comes around is because it is a very long season and a lot of these young guys like Judge and Sanchez are not accustomed to such a long, grueling and demanding season. Sanchez has already visited the disabled list and I believe before the season is up he will visit it again. Although, he is playing well as of now and putting up great at bats, he is playing one of the most physically demanding positions in baseball and it will be interesting to see how his body reacts to it. Aaron Judge has been putting up scary numbers this year with almost every game he plays he hits another homerun, each one further than the last. However, he is only one person and can only do so much on his own.

The Yankee offense is just not as productive as I would like them to be with how the pitching has been in order to consider them having a real chance at the playoffs. The injury to top prospect Gleyber Torres really hurt the Yankees as I believe he was going to be called up this season and make an immediate impact to the club. As of now the Yankees are batting .273 as a team I believe by the time we hit August they will be sitting as a team in the .245 range. Here is why. Your top two hitters are Judge who is batting .331 as of today and Castro who is batting .320. While I do believe that Judge will cool down from his hot streak in the near future, I do not believe his batting average will go lower than .315. He has cut down his strikeouts and is more disciplined at the plate looking for his pitch. Castro can be a streaky hitter and if he goes into a slump it sometimes takes a few weeks for him to get out of it. After these two hitters you have Didi Gregorius who is batting .314, but playing with a bad shoulder that he hurt this spring in the World Baseball Classic. I do not think his production will last very long for he is also a streaky hitter.

Now comes the pitching, which I believe has shocked everyone with how competitive they have been this year. We are starting to see a little fatigue set in. Let’s start with how dreadful Tanaka has been this year for the Yankees sporting a 6.34 ERA this season. He has looked lost since opening day and I feel like his elbow is going to give out any day. He either needs to go to the bullpen or be sent to the minors to try and figure it out as he has done nothing but hurt this ball club. Sabathia and Pineda have also shocked me with how productive they have been this season but I still cannot trust them to stay like this the whole season. In Sabathia’s case, he will have a few good starts but then will also have a few starts where he cannot get out of the 4th inning and has already given up 4 plus runs. I still do not trust the stability in his knee. Pineda, especially after this recent west coast trip where the Yankees looked dreadful, has looked shaky at best in his recent outings. He seems to get flustered very easily and if his slider is not on that day, then it is open season for opposing batters and is sometimes tough to watch. Now onto Severino who I think after a very tough 2016, has finally arrived and is here to stay. Do not get me wrong he still has his outings where he cannot throw a ball into the ocean, but the stuff is there. He has the “it” factor you want in a future ace. He just needs to work on his mound presence and learn how to finish batters off when he is up two strikes. This rotation just is not stable enough for my liking and I do not think they will fare well come September and October if they are still in the playoff hunt.

Onto the bullpen, which has also been inconsistent. They are used quite often and I think they are starting to have tired arms. The bullpen can be hit or miss. It all really depends on the day with them. The only bright spots in that pen are Chapman and Betances. Chapman has already hit the disabled list and missed a good amount of time and it is unclear if his injury will resurface again, which can cause him to miss more time later in the season when it really matters.

Baseball is a funny game and I could be wrong about most of my predictions. However, I really believe that in order to move away from pretenders and turn into true contenders the offense needs to step it up a bit more. The five Yankee starting pitchers need to stay healthy and find a little more consistency from start to start. The bullpen needs to get a break and rest those arms. Otherwise we will begin to see slumping, hurting and losing from the Yankees. If the Yankees do continue to stay hot and start a winning streak after the skid they have been on, things will get very interesting in a competitive AL East.

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