Monday, June 16, 2008

A Healthy Dose of Optimism

Don't look now, but there's a team that's just won nine of twelve games to move to four games over .500. In the past three games, they gave up a grand total of five runs while scoring 23 themselves. In the past six, they've given up 15 runs while scoring 34.

With the exception of one bad start in Oakland, the starting pitching has been exquisite--even going back to the last game of the Kansas City series, despite the Yankee loss.

Mike Mussina deserves a spot on the All Star team. Whether or not he gets it is, of course, up in the air, but if there's any Yankees' pitcher not named Mariano Rivera that deserves a spot this year, it's Mussina. He has been the Yankee stopper, on pace for twenty wins this season, which is all the more amazing when one considers that at the beginning of the season, most of the fan base (and even the experts) figured he'd be lucky to win ten games all year.

Joba Chamberlain's transition to starter has not been flawless, but he's improved significantly in each start, and in his next one, he will not have a pitch count limit. In his last start he allowed just one run over six innings while throwing 88 pitches--and hitting 97 MPH on his last pitch.

Andy Pettitte looked more like his old self in his most recent start, getting both the ground balls and the double plays, and Chien Ming Wang looks as though he has emerged from his pitcher's slump, though it may be a while before he makes his next start.

While Darrel Rasner faltered in his last start, it was most likely fatigue after having thrown 110+ pitches in his previous outing. With the exception of that start--one clunker in seven starts--he has given the Yankees a chance to win every time he steps on the mound.

The bullpen, too, has stepped it up a notch. Kyle Farnsworth recorded a save in the Yankees' 2-1 victory on Friday, and then pitched the eighth in Saturday's game, which, at the time the Yankees lead by only two runs. Jose Veras and Edwar Ramirez have been excellent; after pitching in five games out of six, Mariano Rivera has not pitched now in four games, so he should be available in the upcoming Padres and Reds series. Though he has given up a couple ninth inning home runs, he has not blown a save opportunity.

The offense, it seems, has finally figured out a way to score runs. Johnny Damon has been utterly on fire--currently hitting over .330, he is perhaps the Yankees' most valuable offensive player of the moment.

Derek Jeter's average isn't quite as high as he'd like, but his eighth inning home run on Friday illustrated why he has been dubbed Captain Clutch.

Alex Rodriguez has also been on fire since coming off of the disabled list; he's had two home runs in the past two games--a sign that he is utterly locked in--and, in other just-off-the-dl-news, Jorge Posada gives an added punch to the Yankee line up.

The rejuvination of Jason Giambi also continues--whether because of the 'stache or thong, though, is a question best left unanswered, and Hideki Matsui is still among the league leaders for batting average.

What does this all mean?

The Yankees have climbed to four games over .500, and while there's no guarantee, it feels like the Yankees have finally broken through the .500 barrier. There's still a while to go before they can catch Boston, but it's not quite time to worry about that just yet.

Currently, the Yankees are only 3.5 games back in the Wild Card--trailing only Oakland (from whom they just took two out of three) and Tampa Bay.

So while you're sitting there waiting for news on Wang, perhaps it will cheer you up to remember that these are the Yankees, and no season is ever over before July 4.


  1. Agree with you. Despite Wang's injury things are looking up. The Yanks are finally playing the way we expected them to. I also think that if Wang is gone for a long time, Cashman will find a way to replace him.

  2. Nice post. Really great read!