It’s hard to imagine the second half of the season being any worse than it already has been for the New York Yankees. Injuries plague the team and an unstable lineup don’t make things any easier. So there’s nowhere to go but up, right?
A bad omen has already opened up the beginning of the second half with the injury of ace Masahiro Tanaka, who gave the team hope throughout the rocky first half of the season. With Tanaka on the disabled list at the start of the second half, general manager Brian Cashman has fervently been looking for another big name ace to save the team. Unfortunately no luck so far on that front. If Cashman can pick up a dependable starting pitcher, maybe that will ease the pressure off of the team a little bit.
The Yankees are currently 6th in the American League and 2nd in the AL East behind the Baltimore Orioles. It could be worse for a team that has struggled so much thus far.
While predicting the second half of the season, I will try to remain positive, focusing on who can help the team the most and the advantages going into this last stretch. As I sat down to think about it, there are a lot of positives that can come of the second half if the Yankees use all of their current advantages wisely.
2) Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury coming through on the offensive side
3) Manager Joe Girardi’s realistic optimism
4) The strong bullpen
5) A boost of morale after the walk-off sweep of the Cincinnati Reds
Shane Greene has been a pleasant surprise after being added to the roster two weeks ago. His second start was a shutout over 7 1/3 innings, being the first Yankee pitcher to work at least six innings and allow four hits or fewer in each of his first two Major League starts. Impressive. Hopefully he will continue this success throughout the second half.
Brandon McCarthy has also been an profound relief to the starting rotation, being dominant in his first starts. While he has helped the Yankees, they have helped him in return, bringing him back to his full potential, which was slowly fading away on the Arizona Diamondbacks. If this give-and-take relationship with McCarthy continues throughout the second half, we can expect more wins from the team.
Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury have been pulling through for the team this past month. Notably, McCann’s game winning hit last night against the Reds. It was 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth; McCann hit a bloop single to drive in Ellsbury for the win. Those two have been producing valuable hits that has lead the offense this season. With McCann seemingly back after not being happy with his hitting at the beginning of the first half, I think that he will come through and continue to be a positive advantage for the offense throughout the second half.
The Yankees have also benefitted from a strong and flexable bullpen that has been saving the rotation all season. Dellin Betances, David Phelps and David Robertson have all been strong assets to the bullpen in locking down victories. Girardi just needs to be careful not to overuse them in the second half so that they can maintain their dominance.
Throughout this season, despite all of the unfortunates, Girardi has maintained a respectable outlook on the team. While the Yankees have lost four of their starters, Girardi has turned that into a positive by emphasizing that their loss is also an opportunity for other players to step up and show their potential. He focuses not on what he’s lost, but what he has gained out of the negatives and his realistic optimism is exactly what the players need to push them through the second half.
At the All- Star break the Yanks were 47-47, with a home-game record of 18-23. This sweep against the Reds at home this weekend was exactly what the team needed in order to boost morale after being off track for quite some time. Now 50-47, the advantages listed above should benefit the team (if used wisely) in order to have a solid second half despite the setbacks of the first.
I predict that if the Yankees use these advantages to the fullest, they can continue to produce wins that will put them at the top of their division.I think that their biggest competition along the way will be when they face the Detroit Tigers in August. I won’t get my hopes up in expecting a return from any of the players on the DL, it’s not worth it. I’ll take Girardi’s perspective and focus on who’s healthy.
Sometimes when a team has struggled as much as the Yankees have, the comfort of being a team can bring them together to produce outstanding performances. Might as well work with what you got.