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Yankees GBU – We’re onto Tampa

The New York Yankees took three of four from the Seattle Mariners and now find themselves right in the crosshairs of the American League East leading Tampa Bay Rays.  The Yankees are just 1 1/2 games out and are ready to start a three game series with them.

With the series win over the Mariners, they’ve now won six of their past seven series.  They used the combination of clutch hitting, good pitching and a little luck to take two of three from Seattle.  Let’s break down the GBU for the Yankees’ series against Seattle.

 

The Good

Lemahieu, Urshela stepping up big time

The Yankees have two men to thank for their three win series.  The two guys are two who didn’t look to have a huge role on the team, let alone be the ones carrying them.  Urshela had five hits in 11 at-bats, including some clutch hits.  His game-tying two run home run on Tuesday night catapulted the Yankees to a win (we’ll get to that) and he had what turned out to be the two game winning RBIs when he came in as a defensive replacement for Miguel Andujar on Thursday.

Lemahieu had eight hits in 14 at-bats, including the walk-off single on Tuesday night after Urshela’s game-tying home run.  Lemahieu had two hits in every game and is currently batting .500 with RISP.  He can play everywhere in the infield and has always played excellent defense.  He even picked up his Gold Glove at the beginning of the series.

Happ looks excellent in bounce back start

J.A. Happ looked fantastic in his return to the Bronx, going five strong innings of one hit ball and striking out seven batters.  Happ controlled his pitches well (despite his three walks) and he could have had a no hitter in the sixth had it not been for Tom Murphy getting a single off of him.

Happ has had such an up and down season but lowered his ERA again to 4.38 and got his second win of the season.  If Happ can continue to incrementally improve each start, he can become an important part of the team going forward.

The bullpen holds up (for the most part)

The Yankees’ bullpen had been their bugaboo up until this point.  For three games (for the most part) the Yankees’ bullpen locked the Mariners down.  Adam Ottavino, Jonathan Holder and Zack Britton were all excellent.  Luis Cessa was good for the most part and Tommy Kahnle had a big outing on Thursday despite giving up two runs (both unearned) on Tuesday night.

Adam Ottavino was extremely impressive in this series, going 2 1/3 innings strong while giving up no runs and only one walk.  He struck out three batters and his stuff looked like it should when he’s at his best.  All of his pitches were moving like wiffleballs and he was able to fool the Mariners and keep them off-kilter.

The Bad

Tanaka can’t control his splitter

Masahiro Tanaka had an up and down game, just like he’s had an up and down season so far.  His statline looks great but if you watched the game you could see that he still wasn’t in full control of his splitter.  In 6 1/3 innings he pitched to a five hit, two run statline.

However, he got into a lot of 3-2 counts, walked two batters and gave up a home run on one of his splitters.  Tanaka is a dominant pitcher when he can use his splitter efficiently, but when he doesn’t have a proper grip on it it could spell trouble.

Loaisiga has a clunker

Jonathan Loaisiga continues to be both ferocious and wildly inconsistent.  Johnny Lasagna only went four innings in Wednesday’s 10-1 loss and gave up four earned runs on six hits.  He didn’t have much control and unfortunately he could never really get it going.  He has probably the nastiest stuff on the staff (minus perhaps Domingo German) but never had much consistency on Wednesday.

Loaisiga needs to be consistent as James Paxton is still out with knee inflammation.  He’s going to get more opportunities to show what he’s got but with a pitching staff where healthy bodies are at a premium, he just has to be better.

The Ugly

Jake Barrett should go back to SWB

Jake Barrett had an UGLY performance in Wednesday’s loss as well, somehow being even worse than Jonathan Loaisiga.  He pitched only two innings, gave up five hits and five earned runs, including a back-breaking home run that put the game well out of reach.

Barrett has okay stuff but he just isn’t a major league pitcher yet.  With Dellin Betances still on the mend and a few of the guys working through issues, Barrett is on the team for now.  He’s relegated to mop up duty for now but needs to be better in those situations.

Clint Frazier’s defense has been atrocious (again)

Clint Frazier’s bat is fine but once again his defense leaves a lot to be desired.  In Tuesday’s walk-off win, Frazier completely misplayed two balls that just need to be caught if you’re going to be an outfielder for the Yankees.

First he let a routine fly ball fall in between he and Brett Gardner after some miscommunication.  Frazier was tracking it the entire way and even called off Gardner, but it fell in between them and he needs to take more initiative.  The second and worse error was when he had another ball, at the warning track, that he let fall out of his glove and into the gap.

 

There’s not much to critique after another series win but the Yankees still need to shore up a lot of their inefficiencies.  Whether it be the few errors that Gio Urshela made (which is unheard of) or the inability for Clint Frazier to catch a fly ball, their defense still needs work.

However, here they are just a game and a half out of first place with Tampa Bay up next.  If they can win this series they’ll be in first place for the first time all season (excluding the first game) and they’ll be in the driver’s seat going into the dog days of summer.

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