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Yankees GBU – Keeping the Sox at bay

The New York Yankees took on the Boston Red Sox in a rain-shortened three game series over the weekend.  The Yankees were looking to keep the Red Sox at bay and far away from the top of the American League East.  With the Rays chasing the Yankees as well, it was vital to at least take the series and keep the Red Sox 8 1/2 games back.

 

The Good

Is D.J. the real MVP?

There will be a separate article regarding who will be MVP of the Yankees, but it’s hard to argue that D.J. Lemahieu isn’t at least in the race for it.  The second baseman has played excellent defense all season and showed why he is so important to the Yankees during this series.

Lemahieu went 4 for 14 in the series with four RBIs.  On Friday night, Lemahieu started the scoring with an RBI double in the bottom of the third.  He later broke the game open with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth, while the bullpen did the rest.

Lemahieu would continue to rake on Saturday.  He hit the game winning runs in with an RBI single, scoring Gio Urshela and Brett Gardner.  Lemahieu has been remarkably consistent with runners in scoring position, batting nearly .500 during the season.

The bullpen is lights out

We’ll exclude Luis Cessa from this conversation, but up to Sunday night’s fiasco, the Yankees bullpen hadn’t given up a run in 24 1/3 innings.  On Friday night, the combination of Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman went four innings of two hit, shutout baseball.

Saturday night was more of the same, especially since Domingo German didn’t have his best stuff.  Once again, Aaron Boone used his big guns to get through nearly six innings.  Chad Green got the win during 1 1/3 innings of work.  Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Jonathan Holder, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman strung together the rest for a 5-3 victory.  Things got a little hairy in the ninth as Chapman was a bit wild (as he tends to be sometimes) but a double play grounder by J.D. Martinez got him out of trouble.

The bullpen, after struggling earlier in the season, has been unbelievable.  The “Core Four” of Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton and Chapman have been nearly unhittable.  Jonathan Holder has had his up and down days but for the most part has been a real contributor especially of late.

Boy that Gary is scary

One of the other favorites for the Yankees’ MVP has been Gary Sanchez, who after missing nearly a week and a half of action has already hit the same amount of home runs (18) as he did all of last season.  The young catcher is, as I’ve stated before, the best pure hitter on the Yankees not named D.J. Lemahieu.

When Sanchez is on and motivated, he is one of the best catchers in the league both defensively and offensively.  He was 3 for 10 in the series with two walks and a massive home run that won Saturday night’s game for the Yankees.  He’s shown major improvements in the field and showed off his rocket arm by picking off Eduardo Nunez at second base.

Sanchez is a bit of an enigma because at any point he can go back to being unmotivated, but he is one of the hottest hitters in baseball and has been so good that all of his deficiencies have been pushed to the back burner.  If Sanchez can continue to hit like this, the Yankees can go very far.

The Bad

German labors through another start

Domingo German has been excellent this season but he struggled a bit on Saturday night, going only 3 2/3 innings and giving up three runs on six hits.  It’s not that he didn’t have good stuff, as he struck out eight.  It was more that he couldn’t get the out that he needed to and pitched nearly 100 pitches to get to the fourth inning.

This isn’t the first time this season that German has struggled, but it’s hopefully not going to be a trend that continues for the young star.  German struggled with control earlier in his career, and those seeds of doubt have crept back into some of his starts.  If German can continue to improve and keep his pitch count down, all is well.  However, if he continues to labor through starts it may be time to give him a rest for a little while.

The Ugly

Frazier’s defense rears its ugly head

Clint Frazier is one of the best young offensive talents in the Major Leagues right now, but he is quite literally playing himself out of his position.  His defense has gotten to a point where Aaron Boone regularly relegates him to the bench in favor of Cameron Maybin, despite how well he hits.

Frazier made two crucial errors in the Yankees’ 8-5 loss to Boston on Sunday, and another play that really should have been an error but wasn’t called one.  During Frazier’s adventures, he let a single into right field get behind him and score a run.  He also misplayed a ball and threw it almost to first base trying to throw a runner out.  During that same sequence, he tried diving for a ball after misreading it and completely whiffed on the catch.

Frazier has never been known as a defensive savant but at this point he’s become a major liability in the outfield.  He claims to work on his defense but he hasn’t improved at all this season.  Even worse, he didn’t field questions on Sunday night and isn’t taking accountability for his actions.  Frazier will learn that when the lights are brightest and you make a mistake, you have to own up to it.  New York is not the kind of town you want to shy away from.  They’ll just hound you even more.

Luis Cessa implodes

These two ugly performances go hand in hand, as Clint Frazier did Luis Cessa no favors by mishandling a few balls in the outfield.  However, Cessa didn’t help himself, giving up five runs and five hits in just one inning of work.

After C.C. Sabathia left the game after giving up three runs, the Yankees were only down 3-2.  In comes Cessa, who was pitching both due to the over-use of the bullpen in previous games and to provide length after a short Sabathia start.  He didn’t give up any home runs, but Cessa’s outing was what could best be described as a hit parade.  Red Sox players teed off on him and made Clint Frazier’s life a living hell on Sunday.  Cessa has been inconsistent but on Sunday he was just plain bad.

 

The Yankees took two of three from Boston in the shortened series and now have won their past nine series.  They have won 13 of 14 and look to continue that trend starting tomorrow in Toronto.  It’s unprecedented to see such a team have a run like they’ve had, especially with all the injuries that have accrued over the past month and a half.

At this point it’s clear that guys like Gio Urshela and Luke Voit aren’t flash in the pans and will be legitimate contributors to the Yankees for the rest of the season.  It will be interested to see when Didi Gregorius comes back (in due time) what will happen with the infield rotation.  Either way, it’s a good problem to have and the Yankees are doing all of this without arguably their two best offensive stars.

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Chris Passarelli
Football Editor - Hockey Editor - New York Islanders Lead Writer - New York Lizards Lead Writer - UConn Football Lead Writer
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