The Yankees have fallen far. On July 18th, they were ten games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. Now, they are tied atop the division with no end in sight to their recent woes. New York held a four game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays (now 1.5 games back) on August 20th and were up six games on those pesky Orioles. Coincidentally, that was the same day the Yankees began a three game series against the White Sox, in which they were swept. Since August 20th, the Yankees are 4-10 and have given up their lead that was once thought to be secure. With injuries over the past months to key players like Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees have suffered from an inconsistent pitching staff and an inept offense. August was a terrible month for the Yankees, especially the second half, which saw their slimming lead reduced to zero.
One can boil down the Yankees struggles to a singular problem: a lack of clutch performances. Hitting with runners in scoring position has been a problem for this team all season. However, they have been able to make up for it with their propensity to hit the long ball to either tie games, take leads or extend them. August saw the Yankees have their smallest homerun total (36) in any month this season. It was also only the second month they failed to lead the American League in homeruns. From a pitching standpoint, the Yankees haven’t had the look of a division leader, as they are in the middle of the pack in many key stat categories such as team ERA, runs allowed and opponent’s batting average in the month of August. CC Sabathia spent much of the month on the disabled list and since he’s returned, he’s hardly been the stopper New York needs him to be. Five Yankees starting pitchers are in the top forty in the AL in giving up homeruns this season (Phil Hughes is number one), which has led to some untimely mistakes and excruciating defeats.
For the Yankees to be successful, the team must be on the same page, led by the success of their best players. With A-Rod back from injury and Mark Teixeira on the mend, the middle of the Yankees lineup must and should produce at a high level, which, often times, is contagious to the rest of the offense. When Pettitte returns, he, Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia must come together as the top of the rotation they were meant to be. For fans, there are reasons to have hope, namely New York’s early success and their returning players from injury. I believe they will still make the playoffs in some capacity. However, if their slide continues, heads will definitely role. Joe Girardi might be the first to go.