The Yankees have had quite a rough week going 2-5 in back-to-back two-game series against the Red Sox and Rays and a weekend Subway Series in Flushing. During that time the Red Sox proved that they are contenders, the Rays showed why they might be the best team in baseball, and Jerry Manuel bought himself some more time as the Mets manager.
How did it happen? There are many culprits involved.
The Yankees were without starting catcher Jorge Posada all week long as he is out with a broken foot. The new acquisitions of Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson have been no shows on the DL. Nick Swisher missed some time earlier this week and even Marcus Thames has been shelved after stepping on his own bat earlier in the week.
These injuries aren’t the only culprit, they might not even be the biggest culprit but they certainly contributed. The Yankees still managed to score almost five and a half runs per game which should be enough given the arms in their rotation, but in certain spots it left them with a less than optimal match-up that their opponents were able to take advantage of. A couple of pitchers recovering from injuries, Mariano Rivera and Chan Ho Park, have also exhibited a decent amount of rust that hurt the Bombers a couple of times to say the least.
The absence of Alfredo Aceves has also done quite a bit to damage the Yankees. It wasn’t hard to tell that he had a positive impact on the Bomber’s bullpen since he was called up last year, but with him out the pen has been in a total state of flux with players being shuttled back and forth between the Bronx and Scranton trying to compensate.
Core Four Showing their Age
Derek Jeter has picked his average up a bit hitting .313 over the last week, but his continued lack of patience in 2010 has kept his OBP under .400 and he’s shown quite a lack of power this season has also continued.
Andy Pettitte had his first blip in what has been an excellent season by dropping a game against the Rays. No cause for alarm, but as long as we’re passing blame, he deserves some credit.
Posada, who missed the entire week, and Rivera were already mentioned above with the injuries. Rivera was available and played, but got knocked around after missing at least two weeks with stiffness in his right side and clearly had rust as he has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances.
Hitters Coming Back to Earth
The offense largely has been OK this season, but a few players have come back down to earth after hot starts and that has caused some problems for the Yankees. I’m talking about Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli, and Mark Teixeira. Nobody really expected much out of Cervelli and Gardner this season, but they put up OPS’s of .701 and .561 respectively.
Teixeira who had been having a strong month of May to start has finished the month in sad fashion with a OPS of just .415 over the last week. He has actually been the worst Yankee hitter during that stretch.
Vazquez Has Been the No. 1 Starter
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Yankees have struggled has been a disappointing week for the rotation where Javier Vazquez has been the only good pitcher this week. Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Andy Pettitte all had disappointing starts this week.
The Bullpen has been Unreliable
The good news is that David Robertson seems to have straightened himself out. The bad news is that everyone else is struggling. Joba Chamberlain struggled, Rivera has been knocked around, Damaso Marte has been walking too many and has struck out none, Chan Ho Park probably should have gotten a couple more rehab appearances, and Boone Logan is quickly becoming a joke.
Aceves is supposed to get a rehab appearance today, but it still might be at least a week until he returns and there is no guarantee he won’t be rusty then.
No Need to Panic
The 2009 Yankees really didn’t start rolling until the end of June. The Yankees also struggled against good teams early last season only to dominate those same teams in the second half of the year.
The injuries have been getting better too. Swisher is back and Aceves and Granderson should be returning soon as well.
Mariano Rivera also struggles a bit each year early and this year is probably no difference. Expect him to get past this.
I think the biggest silver lining is that the starting rotation was the biggest culprit over the past week. The reason why this is the biggest silver lining is that these guys are healthy and are just having rough starts. That happens every once and a while. I fully expect them to be able to turn this around, especially once the opponents get a little easier.
The Red Sox, Rays, and even the Mets are no push overs. This too will pass.