This season has been one full of twists and turns for the Bronx Bombers. They were a World Series favorite heading into the year, looking to rebound from a disappointing 2020 season. Once the season started, however, things quickly took a turn for the worse. By the end of April, the Yankees were 12-14. They were looking sluggish, defeated, and lifeless. Fans and media alike were getting restless and preparing for the worst.
New York quickly turned things around, going on a terrific run in May. They then proceeded to win their next seven series and boosting their record to 28-19 in the blink of an eye. But then the bullpen came crashing down. Multiple games should’ve been easy wins, yet were squandered by the horrendous back end of the pen.
Yankees star closer Aroldis Chapman was practically untouchable for the first two months of the year. But things quickly took a turn for the worse, as he blew three saves in June alone. His ERA rose from 0.39 to 3.77 in that span.
But he was not the only one to blame. Chad Green, Wandy Peralta, Zack Britton, Brooks Kriske, Lucas Luetge, and Jonothan Loaisiga have all blown leads late in games. These demoralizing losses took the wind out of the Yankees’ sails. The team was only 46-43 by the All-Star break and were out of the postseason picture.
Brian Cashman had enough and decided to make some major moves. He went out and made blockbuster trades, snagging Joey Gallo from the Rangers and shockingly trading for Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs. The new addition of some left-handed bats in a stagnant lineup made a major difference in the Yankee lineup.
Shortly after the deadline, the Yankees got stricken with COVID-19 and had to place some of their best players on the IL. Rizzo, Gerrit Cole, Gary Sanchez, and Jordan Mongomery all went down with COVID. And then injuries struck. Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, and Domingo German all landed on the IL for various reasons. Many thought the season was over. Then the Yankees went on an improbable run.
Starting on Jul. 27th with a win over Tampa, the Yanks went on to win 18 of their next 23 games, launching themselves into the top Wild Card spot. It was a miraculous run, something that is truly hard to believe. They had key players step up in critical roles as well. Jameson Taillon has had a 2.21 ERA in ten starts since June 12th. Loaisiga leads all relievers in WAR this season. Montgomery hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since June.
They have all been invaluable to the Yankees’ recent success, but the real driving force behind the recent winning has been the terrific baserunning couples with the emergence of sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Since the All-Star break, the Yankees lead the MLB in stolen bases. This has rejuvenated their offense while creating a multitude of runs that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. From the newly acquired Andrew Velasquez to Torres to even Judge, everyone has been running.
The sluggers are finally getting back on track as well. Since the Yankees began this run, Judge has a slash line of .300/.393/.557 with five homers and 15 RBI’s in 70 at-bats. Stanton has also been hot, boasting a slash line of .306/.394/.532 with four homers and 13 RBI’s in 62 at-bats. The increased contributions from both Judge and Stanton have greatly improved the offense.
When they’re hot, pitchers have to focus especially on them, and that’s when players like Luke Voit, Rizzo, Gallo, and DJ Lemahieu can get hot themselves and take advantage of the distractions caused by Judge and Stanton.
The Bombers are playing extraordinary baseball right now. If they can keep this up, they will be a tough out come October.