For Yankees, the Real Season Begins Now

No more “it’s still early” banter. Ten percent of the 2018 MLB regular season is complete, and the Yankees find themselves entrenched in third place in the AL East with an 8-8 record and with just the eighth-best run differential in the American League.

They have lost six of their last ten games and that includes a grotesque defeat at the hands of the Marlins yesterday.

Stanton is continuing to hear it from disgruntled fans and Aaron Boone has suggested that the embattled first-year Yankee could hit lower in the lineup to add some dynamite on his currently dormant bat. That being said, placing the blame on Stanton is foolhardy, especially considering that nearly every Yankees hitter currently owns a cryogenic bat. Of the nine Yankee hitters with 35 plate appearances or more, only four have an OPS above .750 (Gardner, Judge, Gregorius, and Tyler Austin) and using the same number of plate appearances, there are also only four Yankees with a wRC+ above 100 (100 is league average). You guessed it, it’s the same four Yankees.

Oddly enough, the Yankees rank in the elite echelon of offense in baseball despite the holistic struggles of the lineup. Compared to the other 29 teams, the Bombers fourth in the aforementioned wRC+ (118) and WOBA (.345) as well as OPS (.782). They also possess the third-highest walk rate of any team, behind only the Nationals and upstart Phillies.

The real problems have been the bullpen, which should be the greatest strength of the team, and the atrocious fielding. The first few games of the season when their late-game arms were initially struggling was viewed as an aberration, but now it is a glaring concern. Yankees relievers rank 26th in ERA and 14th in WHIP. Identical to the lineup, the shortcomings of a few attribute to a team-wide weakness, because Chapman, Chad Green, Adam Warren, David Robertson, and Chasen Shreve have all performed up to par.

Tommy Kahnle, who has had a conspicuous decline in velocity and is now on the 10-day DL, has reportedly been dealing with right shoulder tendinitis and has sported a 5.64 FIP so far this season. Dellin Betances, who has had appalling control issues since early last season, owns a 5.66 FIP himself. Jonathan Holder, who was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, has been just as bad.

The fielding, as previously mentioned, has been even worse. The Yankees have committed more errors (17) than any team in the bigs aside from the Brewers, who have misplayed live balls on 18 occasions. They own a -1 defensive runs saved mark and rank higher than just two teams in revised zone rating.

What makes the team’s incompetence all the more frustrating is the simple fact that they have had a rather pedestrian schedule to this point, aside from the Red Sox. They settled for a split in their season-opening series against the Blue Jays in Toronto when they should have taken three of four. They lost three of four against Baltimore. They were annihilated by the BoSox, save for the second game, and had to split a two-game set against what will probably be the worst team in baseball in the Marlins.

You can dismiss that now. The Yankees have another four-game series against Toronto beginning on the 19th. After that, they will finish their homestand against the Twins, and then face a road trip against the first-place Angels and the defending World Series champion Astros, followed by a nine-game homestand that includes the Indians and the Red Sox.

All of those teams are winning teams, and the Yankees are just 3-4 this season against teams above .500. Their schedule for the better part of the next month is not a forgivable one, and with their Bostonian rivals already six games ahead for first place in the division, these games become that much more pivotal.

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