Last week saw the Yankees go though the worst stretch of this young season, culminating in getting swept by the Rangers. It may be entirely possible that the 2015 Yankees are that team. But as we've seen in the series that followed, they may not be. There are reasons not to throw in the towel on the season yet, and I thought I'd ask the PSA staff what their reasons for hope were.
Q: The Yankees went through a rough stretch last week. Just so everything's not so doom and gloom, what reasons do have to stay positive?
There's plenty to stay positive about. The back end of the bullpen is still great. The offense seems to have picked up a bit, even though the pitching has struggled (especially against Texas). Even Didi Gregorius is hitting some bombs now. He might not be completely useless at the plate after all, and his defense has been better overall too. Also, at some point, Girardi might actually lose faith in David Carpenter and Esmil Rogers, and we might see some call ups. Aaron Judge is mashing in Double-A too, if we want to look for positives outside of the major league team.
With the losing continued and the mustaches shaved it doesn't seem there is much of a reason to stay positive. But if I must I'd point out that we play in the wild and mediocre AL East. Parity-- have to love it.
I think it's important to remember that the team isn't that far removed from that stretch where they won five series in a row. All signs point to getting Masahiro Tanaka back soon, and Ivan Nova after that, which should improve the rotation. As for the offense, some guys in the lineup have struggled, but they've been so bad that they almost have to improve.
There's one great big reason to stay positive and it's called the A.L. East. There's not a lot the Yankees can or will do at this point to turn themselves into a 95-win team, but winning this division won't require anything close to that. A few small upgrades from within and without - if the team's willing to make them - can take you from 83 or 84 to 88 or 89, and that may be all that's needed.
They have Brett Gardner, who is the Leia to Jacoby Ellsbury's Luke. They have Masahiro Tanaka, currently frozen in carbonite but only one awesome lightsaber battle away from rejoining the team. They have Mark Teixeira, who is a slightly more articulate version of Chewbacca, always one move away from ripping the arms off a droid. And they have CC Sabathia in the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi; apparently struck down, but secretly still powerful.
Also appearing: Dellin Betances as Wedge Antilles, Joe Girardi as Yoda, Alex Rodriguez as Boba Fett, Stephen Drew as C-3PO, and Chase Headley as R2-D2.
A few more games and I'll officially be #teamSlade. When he was drafted he drew comparisons to Grady Sizemore, which he has lived up to so far, just not in the way you want. But the way he's started his career, I think he can keep playing well and give way to Jacoby Ellsbury right before he hits some kind of rookie wall.
Michael Pineda is still healthy, Slade Heathcott finally got called up, and A-Rod and Mark Teixeira and turning back the clock (at least a little). While they might have had a rough patch, the Yankees have a lot more promise than they did last year. The lineup looks better, even with Jacoby Ellsbury still injured, and the pitching staff seems a bit more stable. And Ivan Nova's still working his way back! They might have endured a rough patch, but this is the most exciting Yankee team I've seen in the past three years - how can you not feel excited and positive about the rest of the season?
That stretch wasn't pretty. But the keyword there is stretch. We just passed the quarter way mark of the season. There are 162 games, and there are so, so many left to go. The Yankees are in one of the weakest divisions in the league, so it's not like they have to tear things up just to make the postseason. As long as they can solve some defensive errors and clean up some other aspects, they'll be fine.
Well, when I first sent out this question a couple days ago, the Yankees were in the midst of being swept by the Rangers. A couple days later as I'm writing this, they just finished off a sweep in the Royals and are back in first. That right there is probably the biggest reason to be optimistic: they play in the AL East. They win one series after losing 10 of 11 and are suddenly right back in first place. This division is terrible and I think there's still an okay chance that the Yankees can be the least terrible of the terrible.
Those are our answers and now it's your turn. What reasons do you have for staying positive about the Yankees?