New York Yankees Need to Improve at Home to Stay in AL East Race

By Joe Galotti
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

You would not know it based on the way the team has played this season, but the New York Yankees are tied for the second most road wins in all of baseball, with 22 victories away from the Bronx so far this year. What has kept them from being one of baseball’s top teams has been their subpar performances at home.

The Yankees are just 13-16 at Yankee Stadium this year, a place where they return tonight to begin a three-game set with the division leading Toronto Blue Jays.

After a productive nine-game road trip in which they picked up five wins, the Yankees will play 12 of their next 15 contests at home. It is very important that the Bronx Bombers overcome their early-season home woes during this stretch, because all of their next 15 games will be against AL East opponents.

A hot stretch over the next few weeks could put the Yankees right atop the division standings alongside the surprising Blue Jays. But, if they continue to falter at home, they will likely find themselves not only in a big hole for the division lead, but possibly passed by the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox.

Hiroki Kuroda is scheduled to start two of the team’s next 12 games at Yankee Stadium, a place where he has struggled mightily at times this year. Kuroda has a 4.93 ERA at home in 2014, where he has also given up eight home runs. On the road, the 39-year-old right-hander has been a much better pitcher, posting an ERA of 3.70 and only giving up two long balls.

Vidal Nuno is scheduled to start three of the Yankees next 12 home games, including matchups against the Orioles and Red Sox. On the road, Nuno, aside from his most recent start in Oakland, has been a mostly serviceable fifth starter. Away from the Bronx, he has a 4.18 ERA. But, much like Kuroda, he has had trouble when taking the mound at Yankee Stadium, with the long ball being one of the biggest problem areas. Nuno’s home ERA is a troubling 7.36, and he has given up an even more alarming 10 home runs in just six starts in front of the Yankees faithful.

The Yankees will need to get better efforts out of these two starting pitchers if they are to begin turning things around at home.

Many Yankee bats have also struggled at home this season, with the Captain being one of the biggest culprits. Derek Jeter is only a .242 hitter in 99 home at-bats this season, compared to on the road where he is batting a much more familiar .292 in 137 at-bats.

Some hitters like Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Yangervis Solarte have excelled at home this season, with all three of them batting over .300 at the stadium. But their production has not translated into runs, mainly because three of the lineup’s biggest run producers, Brian McCann, Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Beltran, have done a poor job of driving them in. The three have combined to drive in just 31 runs in 72 home games.

The Yankees have shown on the road this season the makings of a playoff-caliber ball club. Now they must do the same at home if they hope to stay afloat in the AL East.

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