The Yankees' lead in the AL East has slipped away after the Toronto Blue Jays moved past them and there hasn't been much to stay positive about over the last week, but yesterday's win should make us all feel a little better.
The Blue Jays, to quote hometown hero Drake, have gone from 0-100 real quick. GM Alex Anthopoulos traded for an ace in David Price and he got an ace, one who has shut the Yankees down twice since joining his new team. While things are going according to plan for Price, the rest of the pitching staff has also been on another level since the trade deadline. Lucky for the Yankees, though, that can't last.
R.A. Dickey, as a knuckleballer, should be subject to scorching hot streaks and very ugly stretches. Marco Estrada, who could be considered Toronto's version of Adam Warren, has a 3.21 ERA and a 3.80 FIP. Those figures alone suggest an impending regression. Estrada's ground ball rate has been stuck around the low 30's for the majority of his career, while he experienced a significant home run problem during his time in Milwaukee. The Rogers Centre should be a nightmare for Estrada, and the Yankees specifically should be able to capitalize on his fly ball tendencies.
The Yankees offense has struggled during the month of August, much to the dismay of fans everywhere, but the good news is that many of the players struggling the most should also improve the most:
|Player||wRC+ First Half||wRC+ August|
After a horrendous April, Carlos Beltran has quietly picked things up for the Yankees, as has Didi Gregorius. If the Yankees' main contributors were operating on all cylinders and the wins still were not there, it would be a much larger cause for concern. Even so, older players like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are sure to be tired at this point. Recent call-up Greg Bird has consistently been described as one of the best and smartest hitters in the farm system, so he figures to be able to give A-Rod and Tex days off without losing significant production.
Luis Severino has certainly made a good first impression in pinstripes, but the return of Michael Pineda figures to be as big of a boost as any. This season, opposing hitters have put up a BABIP of .338 against Pineda. While a high BABIP isn't always indicative of poor fortune alone, there is reason to believe Lady Luck has not been smiling down on Pineda. This season, right-handed hitters have a .361 BABIP on ground balls against Pineda, according to Baseball Savant. When forecasting the rest of the season for Pineda, his 2.99 FIP looks a lot more accurate than his 3.97 ERA.
A lot has changed since the last time the Yankees were in the playoffs. The Core Four is gone. Alex Rodriguez hit rock bottom. The farm system imploded. A-Rod and the farm system both made emphatic comebacks. A lot more can happen over the last quarter of the season, both good and bad. Let's hope the Yankees can make the most of the home stretch.
*Unless stated otherwise, data is courtesy of Fangraphs. Statistics do not include games from August 14, 2015.