Yes, we all know that the Yankees have been bad. You've probably read a lot of mixed feelings on this site, which basically amounts to "the team can't possibly be as bad as they have played, but what if they they are." There's also a decent chance that it doesn't matter, because they could dig themselves too big of a hole to escape from.
I could go on and echo that sentiment, but I generally agree and will say that despite the unfortunate start, it is still only May 5th and there is a lot of baseball to play. It's also worthy to note that the 2015 Yankees had a number of stretches like this: they went 3-11 from May 9th to May 24th, 4-9 from July 29th to August 12th, and 9-17 from September 8th until the end of the season.
This stuff happens, but of course it becomes more magnified and problematic when you start off the season that way. Brian Cashman expressed his feelings before the Orioles series, stating that he was frustrated with the start, and that changes would be made if this continued. Luckily for the Yankees, though, this is pretty much their best time to turn it around.
The Yankees have the easiest part of their schedule this month and next month. A lot of people have been asking when we should start to worry or when the window for contending this year closes, and I think the upcoming strength of schedule is a pretty decent guide. Using the FanGraphs projected winning percentage for the rest of the season, I calculated the Yankees' strength of schedule moving forward, starting with the final game in this series against the Orioles:
|Month||Cumulative Opposing Win%|
|May (after May 4th)||.504|
As is obvious to see, this month and next month are considerably easier than the following months. You can have your complaints about the way these projected winning percentages are calculated–I certainly don't agree on all of these–but it's a decent shorthand at getting at the overall level of talent the Yankees will face. They may face a good team on a cold streak or a bad team on a hot streak, but that's generally out of their control.
Regardless, they play some mediocre teams in May, and some brutally bad teams in June. This month they'll face the Royals, Red Sox, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Athletics, Blue Jays, and Rays, and only the Red Sox and Blue Jays have projected winning percentages higher than the Yankees' mark of .509. In June they'll get to face the Twins, Rockies, and Rangers a total of 15 times, with a combined strength of .478.
I'm not necessarily panicking about this team yet. I'm definitely nervous, and I think they're in worse shape right now than even the mediocre 2013 and 2014 Yankees were at this point, which is not something to be excited about. This upcoming schedule gives me hope, though. If they can walk out of May and June with at least a .500 record, I think they're in the mix. The Blue Jays and Red Sox will be an obvious barrier for them, but not insurmountable given how the Blue Jays got red hot and leapfrogged them last year. Anything's possible.
If they don't do this, though, then they could in fact be sunk unless major changes come along. I don't even know what those changes would be considering the lack of impact depth in the upper minors, but they would need to do something. From July on they'll have to face the Mets, Dodgers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Indians, Giants, and Astros a total of 43 times, which is nearly insurmountable if they still find themselves more than five games under .500. The season is still young and there's plenty more baseball to be played, but we should pray for a productive May and June.