By trouncing the Athletics for the second straight game, the Yankees concluded the month of August with their longest winning streak of the second half and reclaimed sole possession of first place in the process. However, despite ending the month on a positive note, the Yankees had more than their fair share of bumps and bruises along the way.
The biggest weakness during the month was the starting rotation, which posted a disappointing ERA of 5.14 and averaged just over five innings per start. Aside from C.C. Sabathia, who went 5-1 with a 3.12 ERA, and the introduction of Ivan Nova, all of the other starters had a very rocky month. In particular, Javier Vazquez and AJ Burnett each had a horrendous August, collectively going 0-6 with a 7.91 ERA in nine games started. Filling in for Andy Pettitte, Dustin Moseley had a couple of solid outings in victories over the Red Sox and Blue Jays, but otherwise struggled to give the Yankees length and quality innings. Still, the Yankees managed to win four of the six games he started. Rounding out the rotation was Phil Hughes, who like Moseley had his moments, but mostly struggled to go deep into his outings. Hughes never went past the sixth inning in any of his six starts, but considering his innings limit, that probably isn’t such a bad thing.
Yankees Starting Rotation in August
|CC Sabathia||5||1||3.12||6||43 1/3||15||5||10||36|
|Dustin Moseley||3||2||5.67||6||33 1/3||21||8||16||18|
|Javier Vazquez||0||2||8.1||4||16 2/3||15||7||11||14|
Yankees Starters ERA, by Month
Because of several early exits by the starters, the Yankees bullpen was called upon to pick up the slack and came through with flying colors. The bullpen’s collective ERA of 2.12 in August was by far the best in the majors, out pacing the next closest team by more than on-half run. Kerry Wood, a trade deadline addition to the team, was particularly impressive, yielding only one run and nine hits in 12 2/3 innings since joining the Yankees. Joining Wood as a force from the left side was Boone Logan, who was unscored upon in his 13 appearances and did not allow an inherited runner to score. Also worth noting were the performances of Vazquez, Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin, all of whom helped saved the bullpen on various occasions by being able to deliver quality length. So, despite having a month in which the starters seldom went much more than five innings, Joe Girardi should have a relatively well rested bullpen down the stretch.
Yankees Bullpen in August
|Kerry Wood||1||0||0.71||11||12 2/3||1||1||9||15||100%|
|Sergio Mitre||0||0||2.93||7||15 1/3||5||2||3||6||82%|
Despite losing Lance Berkman and Alex Rodriguez to injury at the end of the month, and in spite of month long struggles by Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner, the Yankees were still able to average 5.3 runs per game in August. Marcus Thames, whose OPS of 1.106 easily led the team in the month, and Mark Teixeira, who continued his second half resurgence, were the two biggest reason why the offense was able to maintain a respectable output (by its own standards), and solid August campaigns by Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada also played a role.
At the other end of the spectrum, backups Ramiro Pena and Francisco Cervelli were both more than two runs below average, but startlingly, Derek Jeter was just as bad. Jeter continued his year-long downslide by posting an OPS of .650 in the month, which resulted in a “contribution” of 2.1 runs below average. With Arod and Berkman both due back early in the month, the Yankees biggest concern on offense remains their struggling Captain.
Yankees Lineup in August
Yankees Offense , by Month
Although there were some encouraging signs from the Yankees offense in August, including its major leading total of 44 long balls, the lineup did suffer from considerable inconsistency. During the month, the Yankees scored in double digits on five occasions for a total of 55 runs, or over 35% of the total output. In 12 other games, however, the team scored three or fewer runs, including three shutouts. Over the previous four months, the Yankees only had 31 such games. So, for much of August, it was either feast or famine on offense. As the pennant race heads into the final month, the Yankees will need to be more consistent at plate.
August was a month of contradictions for the Yankees. The month began with three straight losses, but also included the milestone 600th homerun by Alex Rodriquez. Then, the middle of the month featured a series win over the Red Sox as well as a big comeback victory over Cliff Lee and the Rangers, but segued into a disappointing split against the Royals that included being shut down by journeyman Bryan Bullington. Finally, August came to a close with a four game winning streak despite the starting rotation being in disarray. Through it all, the team managed to end the month where it began…in first place with only one game shaved off its lead.
It’s a credit to the team that they were able to persevere through a month’s worth of trials and tribulations, but as the season enters its final leg, it will undoubtedly have to play better. The return of Alex Rodriguez and Lance Berkman should bolster an offense that finally seems to be turning the corner, but the real challenge for the Yankees will be re-establishing the starting rotation heading into the playoffs. Obviously, the return of Andy Pettitte will play a major role toward that goal, but ultimately, the Yankees must also get AJ Burnett turned around as well as determine who their fourth starter in the post season will be. Although a return to the playoffs is all but assured, the Yankees still have a lot to play for, so September should be a very compelling month.
AL East August Standings