The Yankees may be allergic to playing non-competitive games – they have the most 1-2 run games in baseball in 2021 – but I’m not going to complain as long as they come out on the good side. That happened again today, as the Yankees dispatched the Marlins 4-2 to improve their record to 55-48 on the season. Here are some facts about the Yankees right now, which may catch you by surprise:
- They have won 14 of their last 21 games, dating back to the second game of the Sunday doubleheader against the Mets on July 4. That’s a .666 winning percentage, or a 107-win pace.
- During that stretch, they’ve won 6 of the 7 series in which they’ve played.
- On July 4 – the day of the doubleheader – their FanGraphs playoff odds were 38.5%. While it would sink to a season-low 24% on July 16, they now have nearly one-in-two odds (48.5%).
- The Yanks are 1 game out of playoff position behind the Oakland A’s.
- After tomorrow’s finale against Miami, they’ll play 10 straight against the the Orioles, Mariners, and Royals.
This was a few horrific blown games to Houston and Boston away from being quite a dominant stretch, too. Can’t take those games back, of course, but important to put into context. That context says, pretty clearly, that the Yankees are trending up.
None of this is to say that the Yankees have an easy path ahead of them, as they most certainly do not. That’s what happens when you scuffle for months and barely keep your head above water. But they’re making the run we all expected them to run. The next step is for them to maintain this level of play for the next three months. Sound good? Good.
Now, with that positivity out of the way, let’s get to today’s takeaways, shall we?
The Yankee starters have been among the league’s best this month. Throughout July, the Yankees have trotted out one of the league’s best starting rotations. In 116 innings coming into tonight, Yankee starters threw 116 innings of 2.79 ERA (3.23 FIP) ball, with the league’s highest strikeout rate, second-hardest average fastball velocity, second-lowest HR per FB rate, and second-highest fWAR (3.1) in the league. Domingo Germán, today’s starter, kept the good vibes rolling.
Despite throwing just 66 pitches in 4 innings – the Yankees are really babying him with his pitch count these days , though NL ball played a role here– Germán was a very good pitcher this evening. He allowed just 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, and struck out 5. I don’t think the runs scored do him much justice. His stuff looked extremely sharp, particularly his curveball, which has been one of his very best pitches this year.
Germán really relied on the pitch, throwing 23 of them – good for 35% of the time, tied for most with his fastball. Marlins batters swung at 8 of them and whiffed 7 times. (The spin rates on the pitch were up today, too, from his yearly average.)
All told, Germán was a swing-and-miss machine. The Marlins whiffed on 5 of their 9 swings against changeups, on 4 of 10 fastballs, and 1 of 3 sinkers. That’s good for a 57 whiff-per-swing rate. Many of them were not even close to the zone, either. His called-strike and whiff rate, for example, was just 42; his pitch plot looked like this:
That speaks to how deceptive his stuff was. The Marlins looked lost against most of it. There was some damage – a single, triple, and wild pitch in the 4th did him in – but overall, Germán really did the job this evening. Things are working for Yankee starters, and they were again tonight.
The bullpen once again shows what it can do. As was the case last night, the Yankee bullpen was once again a dominant force, proving that a few blown games this month, infuriating though they may be, do not a bullpen make. The bullpen threw 5 innings of 2-hit shutout ball, striking out 6 and walking zero in the process. Those innings were all high-leverage, too, as they were in a one- or two-run game. Here’s how it broke down specifically, with a note on each reliever to follow:
- Lucas Luetge: 2.0 IP, 1 H, zeros, 4 K (27 pitches)
- Clay Holmes: 1.0 IP, zeros (5 pitches)
- Chad Green: 1.0 IP, zeros, K
- Jonathan Loaisiga: 1.0 IP, H, K
Let’s start with Luetge. What is there to even say about this guy? The unheralded Spring Training sensation owns a 2.94 ERA (2.91 FIP) in 49 innings this year. He’s struck out 55 (10.10 per 9) and walked just 8 in that stretch, with good peripherals to boot. He ranks at the top of the league in average exit velocity against, hard hit rate, walk rate, chase rate, and spin rates. Honestly? Luetge has probably been a bit unlucky this year, too, with a BABIP against of .319. It’s nuts. Absolutely nuts. He excels in both high and low-leverage settings, too. What a find he is for the Yankees.
That brings us to Clay Holmes. I say that because Luetge is a reminder that doubting the Yankees when they trade for a no-name reliever is probably a bit foolhardy. As I noted in my recap of the trade, there’s a lot to like about Holmes, particularly his league-leading ground ball rate. We saw that tonight, when he elicited 3 ground ball outs on 5 pitches in the 7th inning. Holmes has retired 6 opponents as a Yankee. Four of those six have retired on grounders. That’s what he does.
Chad Green, too, looked good. He blew batters away and looked more like old Green than the Green that blew games lately. A good sign, that. And then there’s Loaisiga, about which there’s not a whole lot to say. The dude is just absolutely dominant, and it rules.
On a game in which Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton were unavailable – both threw in 3 of the last 4 games – it didn’t matter at all. The bullpen was a force. I expect it to be throughout the rest of the season, too.
Anthony Rizzo has been an early force. Not really a whole lot to say here other than to note that Anthony Rizzo has been an absolute terror in his first two games as a Yankee. After a dominating performance last night, he was even better tonight. Rizzo logged two hits, two walks, and scored three runs in a 2-3 performance this evening. Here’s one of those hits, which was an absolutely majestic home run:
That one made it 4-2 Yankees and gave the ‘pen some much-needed breathing room heading into the 8th and 9th. Rizzo has been everything the Yankees could have hoped for in the early going. Obviously, he’s not going to keep up this level of production, but it’s thus far been a good reminder of what buying can do for a team. It can inject new life and help win games that may otherwise have been close losses. It matters. Let’s hope Gallo joins in on the fun soon, too.
- Really weird play in the 9th inning. With a runner on first and one out, Loaisiga induced a soft grounder to Gleyber Torres, who was shifted onto the second-base side of the infield. With nobody covering second, Torres “tagged” the runner and made a bad throw to first, which Rizzo couldn’t scoop. But instead of tagging the runner, Torres touched him with the glove, not the ball. So, what could have been a game-ending double play resulted in the tying runs on first and second with one out. It wasn’t a great play, but the power of Loaisiga helped make it irrelevant.
- Giancarlo Stanton hit one of the loudest doubles you’ll ever see in your entire life. I thought it was going to be a home run off the bat, which is incredible. I mean, just look at this thing. Giancarlo is out of control.
- Was also nice to see Gary Sánchez rip a RBI double in this one, too. The Kraken also made a nice defensive play to pick a runner of first, too. Good night for him.
- Joey Gallo is struggling early on, but who cares. He also walked, which helps shows his value – even when he doesn’t hit, he gets on base.
- Rougned Odor had an RBI and two hits. Rougie seems intent on making me look like an idiot, which is a-okay with me.
- Finally, in today’s “the National League is stupid”: the Marlins intentionally walked Tyler Wade to get to Domingo Germán’s spot in the lineup. Tyler Wade! He’s one of the worst hitters in baseball. The worst part about it, of course, is that it’s the right strategic decision. Just abolish the hitting pitcher and let’s get this clown show over with, okay?
The Yankees will try to get a sweep tomorrow at 1:10 pm in Miami. They’ll send out Jordan Montgomery (4-5, 3.78 ERA) to do the task against an unnamed Marlins opponent. Let’s try to get a sweep for once, shall we?
Enjoy the rest of your evening, everyone.