April and May have been a baseball pendulum for the New York Yankees. The team got off to the franchise's worst start in over 20 years, only to rebound with an 18-6 stretch in which they emerged as American League East "favorites." However, all good things must come to an end, so that streak was succeeded by a 1-10 span, the first such stretch for the Yankees since the week Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter made their big league debuts. The Bombers have since righted the ship. If one steps back and examines their record of 30-25 through 55 games, we see their season is in line with many pre-season expectations.
If there is any department in which the Yankees have, as a whole, definitely surpassed what many thought they would bring to the table in 2015, it's the offense. Entering play on June 5th, the Yankees are third in the Majors in homers and fifth in runs, which are impressive rankings for a lineup full of question marks entering play in April. It would have been hard for New York to imagine getting the seasons it has so far from both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, who have done a remarkable job in channeling their 2009 selves.
Throughout the rest of the lineup, there have been the ups and downs that were predicted. Stephen Drew was, well, Stephen Drew. Jacoby Ellsbury got off to a league-best start, but sustained an injury and hasn't played since May 19th. Carlos Beltran has showed everyone that he's not actually the worst player alive with a strong May. After a hot start, Brett Gardner has slumped since Ellsbury's injury. All told, it's a Yankee offense that most expected: potential for success, injuries, and veterans going through slumps after hot streaks.
The Bombers' pitching rotation was said by many to be too unpredictable and prone to injuries, and that's exactly what has happened. CC Sabathia, through some bad luck, but mostly bad pitching, has seven losses. Michael Pineda has shown that he's capable of being a Cy Young candidate and has easily been the team's best pitcher to date. There is, of course, the wildly predictable season of Masahiro Tanaka, who dazzled in his first start off the disabled list on Wednesday. Tanaka has looked sharp when on the mound this year for the most part, but the concern, which may remain through seasons' end, is keeping him healthy.
It is highly probable that the Yankees', above all else, have the most dominant 8th-9th inning bullpen duo in the Majors. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have evoked--gasp--John Wetteland and Rivera a la 1996 with their sensational stat lines thus far. How tremendous would it be to potentially see them both pitch for the American League in the All-Star game next month? They've been leaders in a bullpen that, while very good, hasn't been the overall best in the game, but still stands as a talented and imposing one. Before the season, if there was a single element of the 2015 Yankees pundits put their faith in, it was the bullpen, and that faith has been rewarded.
Given the severe swings in their season to this point, the Yankees' record of 30-25 through the first 55 games makes sense: inconsistent (but somewhat prodigious) offense, injury-riddled starting pitching, and a lights-out bullpen. With that combination of talent the Yankees are a good team, but aren't necessarily a lock to reach the playoffs. If they want to assure their position in October baseball, they will need to find a way to improve.