After four starts, Masahiro Tanaka has an ERA of 6.45. Sonny Gray’s is worse at 8.27. That, as well as the fact that several key Yankees aren’t hitting, is why the Yanks are 9-9 after Friday night’s 8-5 loss to Toronto.
Should they be 9-9? Well, after 18 games, they have scored 99 runs and have given up 98. If that isn’t saying 9-9, what is?
Meanwhile, Boston keeps making like the 1984 Detroit Tigers who started out 35-5 and who ran away with the season. The Red Sox are now 17-2.
The Yanks are digging themselves a hole, and early. Yes, you can make the excuse that they haven’t played in good weather yet (except for the opening series in Toronto’s dome). You can say that pitchers are having trouble with the grip in the cold for their curveballs or sliders and that hitters are uncomfortable in the cold, too. You can wonder why Boston’s schedule has them in Anaheim and Miami while the Yanks have seemingly been stuck in the Arctic. But these wins for Boston and losses for the Yanks still count. 18 games into the season, the Yanks are 9-9, which is 7 1/2 games behind Boston already, and 3 1/2 behind Toronto.
Despite the struggles of Stanton (.205), Sanchez (.182), Walker (.179), Wade (.086), etc. the team OPS+ after Friday night’s game was a 115. 15% above league average, thanks to Didi and Judge. So even with some guys doing subpar or awful offensively, you can see how good the offense could be once some guys get going, especially if it is a 115 now.
But as for the pitching, coaches Rothschild and Harkey have a lot of work to do. Going into Friday night’s game, the ERA+ was 93. 7% below league average, and that doesn’t count unearned runs, because the Yanks’ defense was the worst in the league. Last night didn’t help. You can’t have two supposed aces in Tanaka and Gray both have ERAs over 6. (not to mention Betances and Kahnle (currently on the DL) in the bullpen).
In half of their 18 games this season, Yankees’ pitching has given up six or more runs. No wonder then, that their record is 9-9. They have done so in eight of their last eleven games. That won’t do. Pitching is the key to the kingdom. Boston has two starters with ERAs under 1.50(!) and another at 2.25. Now they’ll regress to the mean, but you can see why they are 17-2.
Even if the Yanks’ offense was clicking, you can’t be giving up six or more runs a game.
The Yanks have to do a lot of things better, and starting pitching is right up there, unless you want to burn out your bullpen early.
Tyler Austin hit a two-run HR (3) to put the Yanks up 2-0 in the second. Gray gave up a 2-run HR right away to blow the lead in the top of the third. Stanton hit a 2-run HR (4) in the bottom of the third to put the Yanks up 4-2 but Gray gave three back immediately in the top of the fourth to put Toronto up 5-4. He was behind hitters, walked too many, and got pounded.
Miguel Andujar tied the game up with his second HR of the season in the bottom of the fourth, but that was it for Yankees’ scoring last night.
Toronto got two runs off Domingo German in the fifth, and Adam Warren gave up a solo HR in the sixth. 8-5 Toronto.
Ronald Torreyes had three hits, Tyler Austin two.
Gray 3 1/3 IP, 5 R, 5 H, 4 W, 0 K. Gave up 1 HR. 8.27
German (L, 0-1, 6.14) 1 2/3 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 4 W, 3 K.
Warren 2 2/3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 W, 3 K. Gave up 1 HR. 3.24
Shreve 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K 0.00
The Yankees will have some decisions to make soon. When Torres comes up, Tyler Wade will probably be going down. Drury most likely will replace Andujar. But what of Bird? Tyler Austin is doing ok. Could Neil Walker then be on his way out? Torreyes (.438!) isn’t going anywhere. Jacoby Ellsbury (if he EVER gets healthy) could replace Jace Peterson. But the Walker thing, wow. And there still wouldn’t be room for say, Adam Lind or Clint Frazier.