Neither Joey G nor his binder know the reason behind the latest Yankees losing streak.
The New York Yankees are definitely in a rut lately, both at the plate and on the rubber, and even in the field. What is to blame for the Yankees’ recent slide? Let’s take a closer look at the Yankees’ preceding 10 games, paying close attention to the negative impact the bullpen had on each loss.
3 Games Versus Texas Rangers (0-3)
The Rangers series was a massive disappointment from a Yankees perspective. Texas is a middling to weak team, and the Yankees were at home, seemingly ready to pounce on the questionable Rangers pitching staff. It didn’t work out that way at all. Texas took all 3 games in a sweep, as the Yankees headed into Memorial Day with a bitter taste in their mouths. In the first game, a 10-9 loss on May 22nd, the Yankees had their offensive mojo working from the get-go. Unfortunately, so too did the Rangers, specifically Prince Fielder, who mashed 2 home runs in the game. Michael Pineda was not sharp, and the defense behind him committed 2 errors. Big Mike left allowing 7 runs despite only being accountable for 3, maybe 4 of them. The next day, CC Sabathia continued the trend but received no help from his offense; the Bombers lost 15-4. Furthermore, the bullpen was dreadful in failing to hold the deficit. To wrap up the series, the Yankees lost on Bernie Williams night 5-2. Chris Capuano had the performance that forced his bullpen demotion and the offense was held to only 4 hits off of starter Yovani Gallardo.
When you go back and analyze why the Yankees lost these games, it was poor starting pitching and offensive ineptitude. Now there will be games where a good starter shuts the offense down, as Gallardo did versus the Yankees in game 3, but your own pitching staff needs to return the favor sometimes. Compounding the issue is the incessant death by bullpen that plagued the Yankees this series. You’d be hard pressed to find a reliever on the roster who actually makes you feel confident right now other than Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, and maybe even Chasen Shreve. The bullpen deserves partial blame for not being able to stop the bleeding.
3 Games Versus Kansas City Royals (3-0)
The exact opposite occurred this series versus the KC Royals than did in the prior 3 games. In the first game, on Memorial Day, the Yankees came out with the hair on fire, pounding three dingers in the first inning, chasing KC starter and former AL East foe Jeremy Guthrie. In this game, the offense played the way it should, without a care in the world, just straight up raking. No complaints for this game. Even in the next 2 games, the Yankee offense got the job done thanks to Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann’s heroics and a more steady bullpen performance, not to mention brilliance from the starting pitching. These 3 games showcased the monster the Yankees could be: in-your-face offense, above-average defense, starting pitching good enough for 18-21 outs, closed out by a two-man machine in the back end of the bullpen. One final reason the Yankees won so often was because their bullpen was better. Justin Wilson was effective and Betances and Miller were themselves. The bullpen is what dictates wins or losses for a streaky club; they answered the bell here.
4 Games Versus Oakland Athletics (1-3)
A contender must always win the games that they should win easily, in order to preserve a divisional lead. The Yankees showed in this series versus the last-place A’s one very important thing: they are not a contender. Sure, they may be able to win the weak American League East, but asking anything more is suicidal; the 2015 Yankees are a team destined to fail. The series began inauspiciously, a harbinger of things to come. The offense was fine, garnering 4 runs thanks to the home run ball. However, CC Sabathia allowed 2 homers of his own before David Carpenter did David Carpenter things and walked in the tying run and eventually lost the game. Frustratingly, Girardi had Shreve primed to relieve Sabathia, but Joe called on Carpenter and payed dearly for it. The second game was just a mess from the beginning. Chris Capuano had a greasy effort, but turned over the game to the bullpen with only 3 earned runs allowed. From there, rookie Jacob Lindgren surrendered a 2-run gopher ball to Brett Lawrie, failing to hold the deficit and rendering the comeback attempt useless. Are you beginning to see a trend in these losses? The middle relief corps. is the chief reason the Yankees are losing these games. If nobody can get the ball to Betances and Miller, how are the Yankees supposed to win? David Carpenter has been a massive failure, Justin Wilson has just been ok, and just when it looks like Chasen Shreve, Chris Martin, or Jacob Lindgren are in line to become the trusted 7th-inning man, Esmil Rogers is given his 300th chance to be something more than a mediocre long reliever. Thankfully in game 3, the Yankees didn’t need any middle men other than Shreve and (briefly) Wilson before allowing The Strikeout Firm of Betances and Miller to take over. But in game 4, the Yankee offense laid an egg versus a subpar starter in Jesse Chavez, wasting a solid Adam Warren start. Later on, Esmil Rogers surrendered an A’s insurance run. Every loss this series was primarily the bullpen’s fault.
What all this means in the long run is that the Yankees need to find a 7th inning man. The lack of a trustworthy middle relief was accountable for at least 4 of the Yankees’ 7 losses out of 10 total games. When juxtaposed with the dominant back end of the bullpen and the improving starting rotation, this lack of a true 7th inning man has killed the Yankees long enough. The Yankees won their series versus the Royals thanks in part to their improved bullpen performance. It is time to DFA Carpenter or demote him to long relief duty. It is time to DFA Esmil Rogers. It is time to give Jacob Lindgren and Chasen Shreve chances in the limelight. It is time to act. Let’s fix the bullpen, Brian Cashman.