Don’t pull that ripcord just yet. Yes, the Yankees had a dreadful April, and while losing is not something we’re accustomed to as Yankees fans, I wouldn’t start thinking about the 2017 season just yet.
The Yankees ended April in the cellar of the always competitive AL East, with a W/L record of just 8-14, which is far from acceptable amongst Yankee fans. The lack of scoring and run support resulted in 8 losses when allowing 5 runs or less, 3 of which the opposition was held to 3 or less. They’ve lost their last 4 in a row, concluding April with an embarrassing 8-0 loss at the hands of the rival Boston Red Sox.
April was only slightly kinder in Yankee Stadium than it was on the road, with the Yankees going 5-7 in The Bronx, while 3-7 on the road. Generally poor hitting and the inability to drive runs in with runners in scoring position (RISP), led to the 3rd worst overall record in the American League, with only the Minnesota Twins, and surprisingly, the Houston Astros faring worse, each at 7-17.
A frustrated Mark Teixeira (Photo: Frank Franklin, II)
That being said, all is not lost in 2016. Not having suffered a losing season since 1992, an incredible run of 24 consecutive seasons with a winning record that dates back to before Derek Jeter donned the pinstripes, makes losing very hard to take. As fans we have built up no tolerance for mediocrity, let alone being a cellar-dweller, but this isn’t our first losing April over those 24 winning seasons.
In 2005, 2007, and 2008, the Yankees posted under .500 records in April, going 10-14, 9-14, and 14-15 in the opening month of the season, but ended up with 95, 94, and 89 wins respectively. They can come back from this.
Historically, April is Mark Teixeira‘s worst month of the season. He has always been a slow starter. Granted this year is a bit slower than normal, partially thanks to the shift eating up some would-be hits, but his .235 BA, .434 SLG, and .777 OPS aren’t really that far off his average April of .224/.355/.707. While this may not qualify as good news, it’s certainly not bad news either, and provides some hope for the upcoming months.
Some other reasons to be hopeful for the Yankees offense are Starlin Castro who was acquired during the off-season, who has hit .305 with 3HR’s and 12 RBI’s during April, veteran Carlos Beltran who scraped together a .253 BA with 4HR’s and 9 RBI’s, and the highly paid Alex Rodriguez who has picked up the pace over the last 7, hitting .417,with 2 HR’s and a slugging percentage of 1.083.
The pitchers taking the hill each day for the Bombers also provide some positives. Masahiro Tanaka went 1-0 with a 2.87 ERA and 28 K’s in just over 31 innings of work, and Nathan Eovaldi‘s most recent outing in Arlington, where he gave up just 2 hits and no earned runs over 7 innings adds another layer of confidence to the Yankees season being salvageable.
The bullpen has been nothing short of stellar, so if Pineda, Severino, and C.C., can simply maintain a 4.00 ERA for 6 innings per outing on average (that’s 2 – 3 runs per outing), Betances, Miller, and the soon-to-return, Aroldis Chapman will easily be able to take it from there.
It’s not all rose-colored glasses, but it’s not time to panic either. Something needs to be done with Chase Headley and his .150 BA and 0 extra base hits, and Girardi should at least toy with the notion of moving Gardner into the leadoff spot and place Ellsbury either in the 2-hole or bat him 7th. There is still hope and all is not lost. If the Yankees can make some tweaks to the lineup, possibly inject new life into it with the veteran Nick Swisher‘s contagious smile and good attitude, or call-up top prospects, Gary Sanchez or Aaron Judge, it could potentially not just give new life to the team, but to the fan base.
The Yankees will come around, and I fully expect a winning record in May despite having a tough schedule that includes four more games against Boston, a home stand against the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals, and six against Toronto. If, by some unlikely chance I am wrong, next month’s wrap-up may not be so positive.