The Yankees are surging, and that’s not a secret for anybody. They’re 13-4 in the month of August, 26-11 since play closed on July 4th, and they and have fully erased the 10.5-game difference that the Boston Red Sox built during the first half. Over those 37 games, Yankees starters have combined for a sparkling 2.94 ERA.
Starting pitchers have carried the Yankees in their hot streak, one that has extended for more than a few weeks by now. Players like Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Nestor Cortes Jr., Luis Gil, and July AL Pitcher of the Month Jameson Taillon have been huge. Even Domingo Germán turned in some fine starts before going down with right shoulder inflammation.
Here is how those six arms have performed in starts over those 37 games:
Jameson Taillon: 8 GS, 1.68 ERA, 48.1 IP, 14/43 BB/K ratio
Domingo Germán: 3 GS, 3.00 ERA, 15 IP, 6/20 BB/K ratio
Nestor Cortes Jr.: 6 GS, 2.76 ERA, 29.1 IP, 6/25 BB/K ratio
Gerrit Cole: 5 GS, 3.48 ERA, 31 IP, 9/50 BB/K ratio
Jordan Montgomery: 6 GS, 2.73 ERA, 33 IP, 11/35 BB/K ratio
Luis Gil: 3 GS, 0.00 ERA, 15.2 IP, 7/18 BB/K ratio
Of course, the Yankees have a weak link, but I suppose nobody’s perfect.
Andrew Heaney: 3 GS, 9.00 ERA, 15 IP, 6/18 BB/K ratio
The Yankees’ relievers have been used a lot recently, too, mainly due to the injuries that have plagued the pitching staff as a whole. Here are some of the most frequently used bullpen arms in August (through the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader):
Chad Green: 9.1 IP
Jonathan Loaisiga: 9.1 IP
Lucas Luetge: 6 IP
Clay Holmes: 6.1 IP (currently on COVID-IL)
Joely Rodríguez: 6.2 IP
Wandy Peralta: 8.2 IP
Albert Abreu: 10 IP (!)
Zack Britton: 6 IP
Stephen Ridings: 5 IP
Some of those players have been pitching once every two days, and others once every three days. There have been short starts to cover up, and bullpen games that have really tested the unit’s depth. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but the relief corps has mostly gotten the job done.
The pitching staff stepped up when Cole and Montgomery were out, and have continued to do so with Germán, Michael King, Corey Kluber, and Luis Severino remaining on the shelf. These hurlers mostly answered the call when Aroldis Chapman injured his shoulder, and when Holmes had to be placed on the COVID-19 list. They actually endured a COVID-19 outbreak, too, as Loaisiga, Cortes, and Peralta were all briefly out of commission.
That’s why the Yankees’ rotation needs to keep up the good work and, above all things, contribute length. Holmes, who tested positive for the virus and showed symptoms, could return next week, and Chapman seems likely to return even sooner. Until then, the guys listed above will be heavily relied upon unless the starters can keep eating innings and making their lives easier.
Teams don’t want to get to the middle of a playoff push in September with an overused bullpen. Thankfully, some pitchers are due back in the short-to-medium term, including Holmes, Chapman, Germán, and potentially Kluber. Severino is sadly another story, as the team is still waiting on a second opinion to reveal more details about the righty’s latest setback.
The bottom line is that Yankees relievers have been used a lot lately, but as the team gets healthier and starters keep doing their job, manager Aaron Boone will likely be able to manage workloads while staying competitive.