MLB Team Report - New York Yankees - INSIDE PITCH
For the New York Yankees, another non-playoff season appears to be a strong possibility.
At least it does if the offense cannot pick it up consistently to support a pitching staff missing 80 percent of its projected rotation while using rookie starting pitchers in 45 games.
The fact that the Yankees are within striking distance in the American League East is because that while they've treaded water, no one ahead of them has become consistently hot.
However, no team can rely on that factor and eventually the Yankees will have to develop a hot streak. It will have to be one that goes beyond last month's four-game winning streak and stretch of 10 wins in 14 games.
If that is going to happen, the Yankees will need to hit better than a team that barely hits over .250 and improve on their struggles in many clutch situations.
That means Brian McCann will have to do better than the .239 average he has produced so far. It also means than when Carlos Beltran returns he will need to do better than the underwhelming .216 average.
To achieve all of that, the Yankees will also have to play better at home. They have won 18 of their first 41 home games, start the second half with an 11-game homestand and play a major league-leading 40 home games after the break.
Getting all those components to click is their mission and if the Yankees are going to be a playoff team, it must happen.
"It's a little surprising," hitting coach Kevin Long said. "Certainly you expect some of these guys in this lineup to perform and at the end of the day, at the end of the year you hope that those numbers are going to be where they should. I can tell you they're doing everything in their power to try and correct it and I'm doing everything in my power to try to correct it and we're just going to stay at it. There's no simple plan. The work is positive and we're working in the right direction. It's just been tough."
MLB Team Report - New York Yankees - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost one
FIRST-HALF MVP: RHP Masahiro Tanaka was mislabeled as a No. 3 starter in the offseason, and that claim sounds ridiculous now. Even when the rotation was in place, Tanaka was the best pitcher. Before going earlier this month with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament that will cost him at least six weeks, he was a dominant figure, posting a 12-4 record, a 2.51 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 129 innings. The Yankees went 13-5 in his 18 starts and scored a total of nine runs in the five games they lost with Tanaka on the mound.
FIRST-HALF GRADE: C -- The Yankees get a mediocre grade not because of the manager or front office but because of how they played -- and that was mostly average. They never made it above five games over .500. Despite spending over $280 million on DH Carlos Beltran, C Brian McCann and CF Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees aren't getting the bang for their big bucks yet, and they might have played better if they retained 2B Robinson Cano. There were a few strong individual performances from the likes of RHPs David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka, but the offense was inconsistent and holes were exposed in the rotation.
PIVOTAL POST-BREAK PLAYER: 1B Mark Teixeira must stay healthy, as his 17 home runs represent the most Yankees' consistent power threat. He will need to be joined in that department by C Brian McCann, who has 10 home runs and an underwhelming .239 average. McCann is the latest first-year Yankee to endure some early struggles, but those issues usually end early in the seasons. McCann must bounce back soon if the Yankees are going to have a real shot. The team is not paying him $85 million to merely call games behind the plate.
BUY OR SELL: The obvious answer is sell. The realistic answer, knowing how the Yankees operate, is that they will attempt to buy unless they begin the second half by completely falling out of both the division and wild-card races. GM Brian Cashman already said he is ready to rock-and-roll, and it is certain he means more than just acquiring RHP Brandon McCarthy and LHP Jeff Francis. The Yankees may not have the prospects to go big-game hunting, but that won't stop them from trying.
INJURY STATUS: Like many teams, the Yankees don't use injuries as an excuse, but there is no doubt health problems are a significant reason why they are a .500 team. The biggest blow is RHP Masahiro Tanaka, who may not pitch the rest of the year due to a torn elbow ligament, but losing LHP CC Sabathia also was a significant blow. Even in his diminished state of velocity, Sabathia can provide distance and not tax a bullpen that usually starts working in the sixth and sometimes the fifth. Aside from DH Carlos Beltran (concussion), the offense is healthy.
TOP PROSPECT: The Yankees' top positional prospects are at some of the lower levels, but a name that keeps popping up is Rob Refsnyder, 23. Refsnyder was the team's fifth-round pick two years ago out of the University of Arizona, and he soared through the system by hitting .299 in 269 minor league games. He moved from outfield to second base, but the Yankees are sorely in need of power from the outfield, so they moved him back last week. If they don't acquire a right fielder, it is possible Refsnyder might get a chance.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The talent is in that room. We just need to play better. It's a lot of different places. You can look at almost every phase and say we need to play better. We've got to find a way to get it done." -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi
MLB Team Report - New York Yankees - ROSTER REPORT
--OF Carlos Beltran (broken nose, concussion) went on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to July 9. Beltran did some exercising July 11 and did not experience any issues. The Yankees expect to activate him July 18.
--RHP Masahiro Tanaka (partially torn ligament in elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list July 9. The Yankees will try to rehab the injury, but if that fails, Tommy John surgery has not been ruled out. The first step in the rehab process will be a platelet-rich plasma injection into the elbow July 14.
--LHP CC Sabathia (fluid in right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list May 11, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 1. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but the knee was swollen and causing Sabathia discomfort. He had the fluid drained from the knee, and he was given cortisone and stem-cell injections. Sabathia threw bullpen sessions June 18 and June 21. He threw 35 pitches in a simulated game June 24. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Tampa on June 28. Sabathia threw a bullpen session at Yankee Stadium on June 30, and he started for Double-A Trenton on July 2. He experienced renewed knee swelling July 3, and the Yankees acknowledged that he is unlikely to return this season. He is going to see at least one other doctor, starting with Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
--RHP Michael Pineda (right teres major muscle strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 6, and he was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL on June 3. He was suspended the previous 10 days after he was caught using pine tar on the mound. He played catch from 60 feet May 10. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session May 18. He faced live hitters May 24 and threw 28 pitches. Pineda threw two innings May 27 in an extended spring training game. He was scratched from a simulated game June 1. He had a throwing session canceled after an MRI found some inflammation in his right shoulder. He played catch June 28 and again on June 30. He began playing catch from 90 feet July 5. According to general manager Brian Cashman, Pineda isn't likely to return until August if there not any more issues.
--RHP Ivan Nova (ulnar collateral ligament tear in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list April 20, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 24. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery April 29.
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
RHP Brandon McCarthy
RHP David Phelps
RHP Shane Greene
RHP David Robertson (closer)
RHP Dellin Betances
LHP Matt Thornton
RHP Adam Warren
RHP Shawn Kelley
LHP David Huff
RHP Chase Whitley
LHP Jeff Francis
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Brian Roberts
SS Derek Jeter
3B Kelly Johnson
INF Zelous Wheeler
INF Brendan Ryan
INF Yangervis Solarte
LF Brett Gardner
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
RF Ichiro Suzuki