The New York Yankees have started the second half of the 2014 season 4-1, but there have been some concerns along the way. With their decimated starting pitching staff that has 80 percent of their opening day starters on the shelf, the pressure’s been on the replacements to step up and keep the Yanks in the pennant race. Some timelier hitting from the Yankees’ offense could greatly ease the pressure that their starters feel on a nightly basis.
During the five-game stretch, the starters have been superb, giving up just seven earned runs over 30.2 innings. The problem is that New York’s offense hasn’t cashed in on promising opportunities that could blow open games. Starters like Shane Greene and Chase Whitley are being asked to do a lot, and the offense must provide those guys with run support.
Specifically, the bombers need to improve their hitting with runners in scoring position. It’s such an important statistic, and the Yanks are batting .255 with RISP, which is only good for 13th in the league. They’re even worse with RISP and two outs, which is an even more important situation. The bombers are batting .209 in those scenarios. The best teams in the league are the ones that can make the most of their opportunities and get the clutch two-out RBIs that often decide the outcome of the game.
Sure, the Yankees have won four of five games, but two of their wins were much harder than they needed to be. Sunday’s finale with the Cincinnati Reds ended up being a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Yanks had plenty of chances to break that game open earlier. They batted 3-for-15 with RISP and won the game on a popup that should have been caught easily.
Last night the Yankees needed 14 innings and a late comeback to earn the win against the Texas Rangers. The Yankees had many chances from the seventh inning on to win the game but consistently failed to get runners in from third base with less than two outs. Basically the biggest theme from these examples is that the Yankees cannot waste opportunities to win when their starter gives them six or more quality innings and gives up less than three or four runs.
None of the Yankees’ injured starting pitchers are coming back soon, and their offense needs to respond and know that some nights they need to outhit the other team to win the game. Getting timely hits late in games has been a problem that has plagued the bombers all season long. New York holds the third-lowest batting average in the AL from the seventh inning on, and that needs to change in order for them to stay in the division race.
All of the Yankees’ starters have thrown well of late, but you can’t expect it to be that way every night. Some nights the offense only produces a few hits, but if they’re timely hits that get runners in from second or third base, only a few hits can be enough to win. The Yankees know that they must improve on making the most of their opportunities offensively in the second half.