NOTE: This post was orginally written before last night’s game. For whatever reason, it didn’t post, so I’m reposting.
The Yankees did not come out of the gate too strong this year, but they’re too good a team to struggle for long and they’ve been showing it the past couple weeks. They had a tough schedule to start the year and now they’re beating the teams at home they should beat. Really, the Yankees and Blue Jays are teams with opposite trajectories: Toronto had an easy schedule to start and now we’re seeing them come back down to earth playing the Yankees and Red Sox. They are still yet to face the Rays.
I wondered at the beginning of this current winning streak if the Yankees could get to 4 games over .500 before the end of May; well they’re at 7 games over now.
The formula, as usual, isn’t too complicated: quality starts and a deep lineup. Last night Joba left in the first inning, but the bullpen still did the job, helped in part by the fact that they haven’t been overworked lately. Too often starters are measured in wins, but really it’s more useful to measure them in innings. When Sabathia threw a complete game loss, that was still productive for his team. Same for Burnett when he pitched into the 8th but lost to Halladay. If the starters keep pitching well enough to be allowed to pitch those late innings, the wins will come – and they have.
– Aceves has been great. Sure, he’s hittable, but he throws strikes and keep his composure. He’s turned into a real weapon out of the bullpen and has added a significant amount of stability.
– A-Rod isn’t fully back yet. He has his power stroke and plate discipline, but he just can’t take the ball the other way yet. If you give him something inside to drive, he’ll crush it, but we haven’t seen any of those A-Rod trademark opposite field hits yet. That’s when we’ll know he’s back. Right now, opposing pitchers are crazy to throw him anything inside. If you pitch him away, he generally takes it or gets out.
Despite that though, A-Rod has made an obvious difference in lengthening the Yankees lineup, which is crucial with Posada out. Even at partial effectiveness, A-Rod still makes pitchers work.
– Much like the Yankees are too good to struggle all year, Tex is too good to struggle for a prolonged period of time. Did anyone really think he would hit below .200 all year? He’s looking more and more like the perfect position player acquisition for the Yankees, like most thought he was when he signed.
– Veras did not walk the first batter last night. Go look at his baseballreference page – that doesn’t happen too often. Could there be hope for him after all? Maybe he’s better served as a more than one inning type guy.
– I’m a bit surprised to hear Joba will be taking his usual turn in the rotation against Texas next week. I figured since he needs his innings limited anyways, the Yankees would take the bruised knee as an opportunity to skip him and use Wang instead. Instead, Wang has been activated for tonight’s game. What if Burnett goes deep into the game, as I hope? When does Wang get his work in?