Left for dead after the trade deadline, the Yankees find themselves in the thick of the playoff chase as the season winds down. Bomber fans have been privileged to watch their team go on a tear as the Yankees are 13-7 in their last 20 games, which included a seven-game winning streak at the beginning of September.
This is in stark contrast to the waning days of the 2015 season in which the Yankees coughed up a seemingly insurmountable six-game division lead, backed into the playoffs as a wild-card team, and lost to Houston. The Yankees went 13-17 in the final 30 games of 2015, which included several crucial losses to the Blue Jays. The Bombers did a complete 180 last week, though, as they swept Toronto in a three-game set at Yankee Stadium.
“Everything’s in front of us because we have so many games in our division, and it’s the teams we’re chasing,” Joe Girardi told the New York Post.
The much-extolled ‘Baby Bombers’ (Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin) have cooled off since exploding on the scene in August (though Sanchez continues to sport a stellar batting average and has added two home runs in September), but their infusion of energy has revitalized the Yankees’ tired clubhouse.
“It’s amazing what these kids have been able to do for us,” Girardi told Newsday. “It’s hard to explain.”
Dellin Betances, who has led the way in the bullpen since the departure of Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, has sensed the mood change in the clubhouse.
“The young guys have been doing really well, and everybody’s been feeding off of those guys,” Betances told the New York Times. “They did a good job in Triple-A, they know how to win, and they’ve brought that mind-set here to help the other guys out.”
And while the Yankees bullpen continues to be a source of strength despite the changes in personnel, the starters have also improved in the last few weeks. Masahiro Tanaka has been dominant (1.36 ERA in his last five starts), while Luis Cessa has jumped in and provided some quality innings (3.51 ERA in four starts). This comes on the heels of losing Nathan Eovaldi for the season due to a UCL tear.
Former starter Luis Severino has been a revelation since switching to relief duties; he allowed just two hits to the first 50 batters he faced out of the bullpen.
Brian Cashman has no regrets about ‘selling’ at the deadline, citing Sanchez as the central reason.
“We’re winning because of the moves we made,” Cashman told the New York Times. “Gary Sanchez wouldn’t have gotten up here if we don’t make the moves that we made. He’s had the biggest impact of them all, but there was no way to get Gary up unless we made trades.”