New York Yankees Analysis: The Yankees need to break out now. Must read

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton
Anthony Rivardo (edit)

The New York Yankees got off to a slow start this season, and although they have been playing better lately, mostly due to better pitching, they are still only two games above .500. Some will say give them a break; it’s early in the season. Well, my answer to that is that it’s no longer early; the season is approaching 25% completed. Now is the time the Yankees need to step up and break away from the rest of the east.

The baseball picture right now is very different than it was on Opening Day. Back then, the New York Yankees were the clear favorites to win the East and go on to a 28th World Championship. Today, six weeks later, almost the opposite is true. The Boston Red Sox, who seemed to be a mess and sure to end up on the bottom of the division, are surprisingly leading the East, and that is without their ace Chris Sales. The Tampa Bay Rays were thought to be weaker, losing two of their best pitchers, having already won five of six games against the Yankees, and the Blue Jays don’t seem to be as good they were thought to be.

For the New York Yankees to win the AL East and go on to the postseason, it seems to me that they must win at least half of the games played against the Tampa Bay Rays. They play the Rays 19 times this season. They have already lost 5 of those games, which means they must win 9 of the next 13 to even up with the Rays. Going into this three-game series is why the Yankees need to turn this around right now. They must win this series with the Rays or sweep them to have any chance at reaching the goal of evening games with them. If they lose this series or get swept, they have almost no chance of winning the East.

What makes this so important is that although no team in the East is playing particularly well, the Boston Red Sox, with relatively no team, is three games ahead of the Yankees, what worse is that the Yankees still have not faced the Red Sox and will have to face them 11 times in a three-week period from late June to July. They have yet to face the Rays 13 more times, the Red Sox 14 times, and the Blue Jays 13 more times. The Yankees must win at least half of those games. The Yankees should also win the majority of games with the Orioles. But they only face the Orioles 10 more times.

It is probably good for the Yankees that they only have two west coast trips this season. For the last two years, the Tampa Bay Rays have kept the New York Yankees from advancing; the Yankees must change this and sooner than later. The Yankees must win the AL East; they don’t want to get involved in a one-game Wild Card situation, even with Gerrit Cole on the mound.

Getting back to the Red Sox for a moment, the big difference between the two teams is that the Red Sox having basically no pitching; their hitting lineup is widely outperforming the Yankee’s “strongest lineup in baseball.” The Yankee’s pitching is figuring it out, but it’s no secret to Yankee fans that, for the most part, the Yankee hitters have been dead on their feet so far in most of this season’s games. The Yankees have scored 3 or fewer runs in 29 of their games, including spring training.

To fix this, the New York Yankee hitters have got to start hitting. Only Giancarlo Stanton is hitting above expectations. DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, and Aaron Judge are doing okay but not up to what is expected of them. LeMahieu’s batting average is 86 points below his best hitter in baseball season last year. Gleyber Torres has just hit his first home run of the season. Of the rest of the lineup including the bench 8 Yankee hitters are hitting at .200 or below. The Yankee coaches and players must find a way to get several players such as Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, Mike Ford, Rougned Odor, and Gary Sanchez off the interstate and hitting more consistently.

The Yankees also have to look at the catching situation. The Yankees have won a higher percentage of games with Kyle Higashioka behind the plate than when Gary Sanchez is catching. Also, add this fact, Higgy’s batting average is 50 points higher, and he has the most home runs on the team per number of games played.

There is no better time than right now for the Yankees on this 10 road trip to overtake the Red Sox and start to separate themselves from the rest of the AL East.