The most recent series against the Blue Jays can best be summed up as an offensive disaster. It is certainly not fun to look at the standings and see that the Yankees lead has diminished, but some people have already hit the panic button and declared the season over, which is a bit premature. Regardless of whether the Yankees win the division or make the postseason, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the remainder of the season.
1. The Yankees' bullpen has been stupendous so far. They have collectively been worth 4.5 fWAR, which is the most in the majors. The bullpen also has the second highest strikeout rate per nine innings at 9.93 while sporting a solid 3.29 ERA and 3.49 FIP. Meanwhile, Dellin Betances has struck out 91 batters 57.1 innings pitched, and Andrew Miller has not blown a single save. The rotation has gone through rough patches, but the bullpen has been able to pick them up all season. Even when the team is losing, it's still fun to see Justin Wilson come into a bases-loaded, no-outs jam and retire three straight batters like he did on Sunday.
2. So far, the Yankees have given a lot of prospects chances in the big leagues this year. Earlier in the season, there was a stretch where we saw guys like Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams starting in the outfield (before both went down with injuries). Reliever Jacob Lindgren was also given the chance to contribute. It was exciting to see Rob Refsnyder called up before the All-Star break, too, even though he was quickly sent back down. Now Luis Severino is in the rotation, and he had a great debut against Boston last week, striking out seven batters and allowing just one earned run through five innings. It's unclear what the Yankees will do with Severino if (or when) Michael Pineda is ready to return from the disabled list, but he has the chance to make five or six starts. It's refreshing to see prospects getting a chance, and exciting to look ahead to September call-ups.
3. This is a team that scored 90 runs in ten games. It's not possible for the offense to sustain that level of production, but that doesn't mean the Yankees will only score one run every 28 innings for the rest of the season. The majority of batters go through hot and cold streaks throughout the season, it just so happens that everyone in the Yankees' lineup cooled down this weekend.
4. The schedule for the rest of August is pretty evenly balanced. Yes, the team has to play the Blue Jays again this weekend on the gross astro-turf. They also have a series against the first-place Astros and the Twins, who have played decently but just lost eight out of ten games. However, there are seven games against the last-place Indians on the horizon, plus a series against the Braves before the month ends with a series against the Red Sox. In September the Yankees will see a lot of the AL East, which is actually not terrible since the non-Blue Jay teams haven't been doing so hot. It stands to reason that the Yankees won't be swept by the Blue Jays in each of their remaining series.
Bonus reason to stay optimistic: Each day brings us a little bit closer to the end of Stephen Drew's contract.
What are your reasons for staying optimistic?