As sports fans in general, but particularly the game of baseball, well because this is a baseball article, we know and love the feeling of October baseball. The postseason for Major League Baseball injects the most electric crowd noises, the most anxious of atmospheres, the most disappointing defeats, and the most glorious feelings of triumph. The New York Yankees are no strangers to the postseason by any means and by far the most successful championship franchise in all of sports. From the moments that I remember witnessing in my short 203 years of watching Yankees baseball, I lived to see some of the most iconic, the goosebumps, spine chilling games. John Wetteland popping up Atlanta’s Mark Lemke to Charlie Hayes to win the 96’ World Series. Beating the Mets four games to one for a third championship in a row. Derek Jeter’s walk off in 2001 World Series against the Diamondbacks to become Mr. November. Aaron Boones iconic walk-off against the rival Red Sox in the 2003 ALDS. Or one of my personal favorites Hideki Matsui’s monstrous MVP performance in 09’ World Series against the Phillies.
There are so many of these Kodak momentous memories, I could be irritatingly repetitive rapping away all of them. The point is October baseball is here and that means (if the Yankees can hold on to the wildcard) more generational storied moments. But with the bi-polar season the Yankees have frustratingly endured and the fan base as anxious and nervously watched from close and afar, what will be some of the keys to cut down and send home some of baseball’s top tier teams? Well let me break that shit down for you, here we go.
A Consistent Yankee Lineup Is the Most Dangerous Lineup in Baseball
It’s no safely guarded secret that the New York Yankees have arguably the best lineup on paper in the entire league. That being said and I’ve beaten this dead horse too many times, that statement can only be reinforced by consistency, which includes health. The most consistent player all year has been Aaron Judge, who is having an MVP caliber year, not to mention how clutch his offense has been in the key moments and big situations in a game that’s on the line. His strikeout% rate is at a career low along with his swing-and-miss rate. In the five years he has been in the big leagues, this may be his most patient year in the box. He’s also had a gold glove season in the outfield, second to Millie Betts in defensive runs saved.
Personally, Judge is one the premiere ball players in the league so he will most likely be talked about every season but there is another teammate of his that has been really lighting off the fireworks the entire second half of the season. He makes up the other half of the Twin Towers of Power duo and that is Giancarlo Stanton. Since August 2nd, he’s been locked in on opposing pitching with laser focus and incredible patience. He’s batting a solid .302 with 15 home runs and .952 OPS. He alone devastated the Boston Red Sox, hitting 3 more home runs and driving in 13 runs. He then brought that over to Toronto where he busted the game wide open in the 5th in a key, must-win divisional game. Honestly, it’s been this way since Boone started playing him in the outfield more often and his role molded into an important everyday player. While majority of the fun and run support is being provided by the Twin Towers of Power, the rest of the lineup has been contributing with consistency as well the second half of the season.
Among these players, Gio Urshela, ‘the most happy fella’, as John Sterling puts so joyously, is currently on a 10-game hitting streak. During this streak, he is batting .361 with two home runs, knocking in 3 runs and scoring 8 runs himself. These numbers may not seem like much of anything but if you carefully consider the risky up and down season this offense has had, this production is a breath of fresh air.
During this last six-game stretch, everybody has somehow contributed to each one of the five wins from that span. Rizzo with a big homerun Thursday night along with Gardner and Torres. Gleyber Torres has been heating up at the right time as well after a slow start in the first half batting .240. During the last 15 games he’s hitting .345 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI’s and slugging .509 as well. Though it seems his offense is finally picking up, it’s his defense that has severely tainted the offensive weapon he is.
Again, consistency needs to be maintained. Although Judge and Stanton will continue terrorizing opposing pitchers, the rest of the lineup needs to follow suit.
The Least of The Yankees’ Discernible Concerns, Pitching.
The biggest question for the Yankees coming into the 2021 season was ‘Can the starting pitching stay healthy and be dominant?’
The Yankees pitching has been rocky a bit throughout the season but for the overwhelming majority of the long season, has truly been a force to be reckoned with. After the first few times through the starting rotation, Yankee pitching found its groove. They have become a top five pitching staff in the league putting up a 3.71 ERA just behind Tampa’s 3.70. Yankees are sixth in the league in wins with 91, fourth in strikeouts with 1,537, top five in WHIP with 1.20, tied fourth in BAA holding their opponents to a .229 average, and 22nd out of 30 teams in walks given with 480.
Geritt Cole’s season has sure been up and down, yet he’s posted some fantastic numbers. He currently holds a 16-8 record with a 3.81 ERA and 243/41 K/BB ratio. His first two months of the season were sensational posting a 1.43 and a 2.18 ERA while holding opponents to a .178 and a .222 BAA. He also posted 97 Ks and only 9 walks in those two months. June and July was a downhill turn for the worst with September being his worst of all. In September he’s 3-2 with a 5.14 ERA in 33.1 IP. His September performance is an alarm for Yankees fans with the post-season and a shot at the wild card approaching rapidly. Now, here’s the shit that escapes the air heads in the back when it comes to Cole in the postseason, he’s 8-4 with 2.68 ERA in 13 games with 108 strikeouts to 20 walks and holds opponent hitting to a .178 OBA. He’s pure dominance under the spotlight. The Yankees paid him big for those numbers. In the last two years for the Yankees in the postseason he is 6-1 with a 2.15 ERA along with 77 Ks and 15 walks. Looking at those numbers, there’s a reason he is the ace of the rotation. So have some faith and let Cole Train come in hot and wreak havoc.
As for the bullpen, the Yankees might have the best bullpen right now than they’ve ever had. With power arms like Sevy, Loaisiga, Chad Greene and Chapman, hitters have been finding it truly tough to beat them. All these guys in the pen also have wicked breaking stuff to counter the heat so they continuously keep hitters off balance. Now the bullpen isn’t complete without the guys who have stepped up and have been absolutely dominant and they are Michael King, Clay Holmes, and Wandy Peralta. King is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in the last 7, 14/8 K/BB, and 0.81 WHIP. Clay Holmes who was an anomaly from Pittsburgh has been nothing short of impressive, the last 15 games he has posted a 1.62 ERA, 24/2 K/BB, and a 0.96 WHIP. That is lights out pitching. This trend continues through the back of the pen down to Chapman.
These are the guys that along with Jordy Montgomery and Nasty Nestor Cortes, Corey Kluber who will help punch the Yankees ticket straight to the World Series. Yankee fans, have some good dam faith, and let’s get fired up because October baseball is here, and the best has yet to fucking come. As usual, you can find me over on Twitter, getting rowdy and tweeting throughout each Yankees game. Head over to Twitter and follow me @SlingerMosley and let’s get nuts together while rooting for our favorites in pinstripes. At the end of all this, I ain’t wrong. See you over on Twitter, I’m Oscar Mike!