At 16-10 the Yankees sit atop the AL East by two games and are tied for the fourth-most wins in baseball. It’s been a total team effort; with solid starting pitching, powerful and timely hitting, and shut-down relief pitching.
Masahiro Tanaka may have gone down with another injury but Michael Pineda (3-0, 3.73 ERA) and Nathan Eovaldi (2-0, 3.81 ERA) have picked up the slack.
Jacoby Ellsbury has been leading the way at the plate with a .347 batting average, nine stolen bases and 11 walks and Brett Gardener isn’t too far behind with his .312 batting average, eight stolen bases and 10 walks. Mark Teixiera has nine home runs, good for third in the MLB. And Dellin Betances picked up where he left off in 2014, as he’s 3-0 and has yet to give up an earned run in 15.1 innings of work. But the Yankees have been getting production from some surprising sources this season; here are three of those players who have stepped up in a monumental way.
Young floundered with the Mets for most of 2014 but caught on with the Yankees when the season was winding down in September, batting .282 in 71 AB. There was no guarantee he was going to make the roster this season but he earned his way on and now he’s a leading candidate to the win the comeback player of the year award. Young is currently batting .308 in 65 ABs, has 6 homers and 12 RBI, and leads the team in OPS at 1.052. Young had been a prolific power hitter in Arizona a few years ago, now he has retooled and is thriving as a contact hitter, but he is still capable of driving it out of the park. Young has been a welcome addition in the outfield as Carlos Beltran has struggled out of the gate.
A-Rod missed all of 2014 due to suspension and he’ll turn 40 in July but you wouldn’t know it based on how he’s performed this year. Rodriguez has hit 6 homers, tying Willie Mays on the all-time home run list at 660, and knocked in 14 RBI. He has been batting in the three or four-hole almost all season, providing some pop in the heart of the order. A-Rod may have permanently tarnished his reputation and gave the Yankees a black eye in the process, but right now his is doing better than almost any Bombers fan could have dared hope and he is helping his team win games.
The last week has not been kind to A-Rod though; he’s only batting .150 in 20 at-bats in the last seven days, including an 0-for-4 in Monday night’s game with the Blue Jays. It remains to be seen if this is just a minor slump or if it will snowball into something more.
The Yankees have yet to lose a game when leading after eight innings, and that’s due in large part to newly-anointed closer Andrew Miller. Miller has yet to allow a run in 13.1 innings pitched and has only surrendered three hits. Miller’s strikeout/walk ratio is a robust 3.83, and his WHIP is a microscopic 0.675. After an injury-shortened 2014 with the Orioles there were some who wondered if Miller would be as good as he used to be, but he’s silenced all the skeptics. The southpaw has 10 of the Yankee bullpen’s 11 saves this year (so much for sharing the wealth with Betances like many thought would happen this year), and this bullpen unit as a whole has erased the preseason concerns that they would struggle without David Robertson, as they are currently the third-best bullpen in the majors by ERA (1.86).