by Cary Greene
September 16, 2021
The media has been skirting around the issue ever since it became apparent that the Yankees were giving back all the separation their 13 game winning streak afforded them. There’s been a number of articles blaming Gleyber Torres’ defense or Joey Gallo’s lack of production or Andrew Heaney’s pitching. It occurred to me that honing in on the real reasons could go a long way towards helping us figure things out as a tight knit group of SSTN fans.
Immediately following the amazing 13 game winning streak, which spanned from August 14th to August 27th, Yankee Starters posted a 2.83 ERA and the Yankees allowed zero unearned runs during the starter’s innings. The staff was led by ace Gerrit Cole. During the streak, Gerrit Cole was dominating once every five days, pitching 18 innings while allowing only a single earned run – pitching to a 0.50 ERA. Having Cole firing on all cylinders at the front of the rotation certainly helped set the tone.
When we examine the 16 games following the winning streak, where the Yankees went 5-12, Yankee starters had a 5.02 ERA and the team allowed seven additional unearned runs while committing a whopping 12 errors, (eight more than during the 13-game winning streak), four of which we can attribute to Gleyber Torres.
The starting pitching has been wildly inconsistent this season and we saw a huge example of this during the 5-12 stretch.
The Yankee offense also wasn’t producing and the Yankee Run Differential, which was +40 during the winning streak, was -27. Those are the two telling stats. As I’ve said, the Yankees are often the curious case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The team is wildly inconsistent.
We can correctly pin some of the blame on Gleyber Torres. In eleven September games since he’s been back, Gleyber Torres has only hit .211 while making five errors. It hardly felt like he should be the Yankees starting shortstop. He’s fallen off the table badly. Yet the Yankees chose to demote Andrew Velazquez, which seemed like a horrible decision at the time, but one Brian Cashman can easily explain as he needed starting pitching badly and was forced to promote Clarke Schmidt and Luis Gil. And now, finally, Torres has been moved off shortstop.
From a scheduling standpoint, the Yankees have a very real disadvantage at this point. We knew the schedule would be “pedal to the metal” down the stretch. The Yankees have 17 games remaining with exactly one off day. Pitching is the most important factor right now and the roster management has to reflect its importance, otherwise the Yankees aren’t going to make it into the playoffs. Boston has MLB’s easiest schedule from here on out. Only six other teams have an easier remaining schedule than Toronto and none of them are AL Wild Card teams.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have a very difficult remaining schedule, as I’ve been warning about for months – its the 14th hardest schedule in all of baseball and only Oakland, with the fourth hardest schedule, has it worse among Wild-Card contenders. Seattle coincidentally has the 12th hardest schedule.
Fangraphs is forecasting that the Yankees and the Blue Jays have an equal 62% chance of making the playoffs as the final Wild Card Team. Boston’s chances are significantly better, due to the cushier schedule, at 71%.
It’s clear that the Yankee offense needs to wake up and its also clear that the starting pitching has to be more consistent. These are the two things that will decide the fate of the 2021 New York Yankees.