This week, the Yankees hosted the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians in the Bronx. It looked like the Yankees would be in for a long series when the Tigers traded for David Price at the deadline to make their fearsome rotation even more formidable, but New York surprised everyone by taking three of four from Detroit behind some stellar pitching of their own. Against Cleveland, the Yankees' bats decided to take the weekend off - they scored just one run in the final two games of the series, dropping both of them to fall to six games back in the division and two and a half games back in the Wild Card race. While this performance to finish the week off was obviously a bit disappointing, the series against the Tigers has to give the Yankees some confidence that they can beat the league's elite and play well enough to give themselves a chance to make it to October.
Yankees offense showing signs of life in second half - The Yankees were one of baseball's worst offensive teams in the first half, ranking 22nd in runs scored and 15th in batting average. Since the All-Star Break, though, New York's bats have come to life - the Yankees are 10th in runs scored in the second half, and while their batting average hasn't improved as dramatically as their run scoring, they have shown a lot more pop in recent weeks. They struggled to hit home runs in the first half of the season, slugging the 17th most, but are second since the break with 25 long balls in just 23 games. While they looked pretty lifeless this weekend, they'll need to get the bats going again if they hope to have a chance against the Orioles this week, as Baltimore is one of the league's most dangerous offensive teams.
Yankees continue to somehow find solid starting pitching - Surprisingly, even with losing four out of five starters from their Opening Day rotation, and then losing one of their replacements in David Phelps, the Yankees' starting pitching hasn't been completely awful. Continuing a trend of finding shockingly decent fill-ins for the rotation, the Yankees have added a couple new arms in recent weeks - Chris Capuano and Esmil Rogers - and the early returns have been good. Capuano outdueled Justin Verlander in the Bronx on Wednesday, and Rogers won his first start for the Yankees on Friday, giving up one run on four hits in five innings. Capuano has compiled a 2.84 ERA and a 2.29 FIP in his three starts in pinstripes. It probably can't last, but the ability of guys like Capuano, Shane Greene, and others to step into the Yankees decimated rotation and find success has kept them in the hunt and proved to be one of the season's bigger surprises.
Position player of the week: Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury came into this week mired in a recent slump that saw him hit just 3-for-39 in his past 11 games, but he broke out of against Detroit and Cleveland, hitting .417 this week with three doubles and a homer (the Yankees' solitary run in Sunday's miserable game). It's been an up and down season for the Yankees' biggest offseason addition (at least in terms of salary), and I'm sure New York was hoping for more from Ellsbury than a .278/.346/.405 triple slash. Hopefully this week might get Ellsbury heading for a big end to his first season in pinstripes.
Pitcher of the week: Shane Greene
The Yankees got a lot of good pitching performances this week - Brandon McCarthy beat Max Scherzer, Capuano and Rogers both threw good games as mentioned above - but Shane Greene sealed the Yankees' series win against Detroit, throwing eight innings of shutout ball to beat Rick Porcello (quietly a terrific pitcher who owns a 3.58 FIP in 2014) and the Tigers, 1-0. Greene has been quite good since joining the rotation at the beginning of July, amassing a 2.89 ERA and a 3.83 FIP and doing his part to stabilize the rotation. While it remains to be seen if his success is sustainable, he clearly threw a great game this week.