NY Yankees: 6 Reasons Bronx Bombers Will Be in First by the All-Star Break
Certainly, it is not a stretch to predict the New York Yankees will be atop the AL East. At this moment they only sit 0.5 games back.
However, it wasn't that long ago that the Yankees were left for dead by many. Whispers of them being too old to overcome their deficiencies were rampant and even Joe Girardi's demise was being questioned in some circles.
Yet, we enter June, the Yanks appear primed to make a real run at trying to emerge as the front-runner of the division.
Has Phil Hughes Turned the Corner?
Leon Halip/Getty Images
We’ve heard this question posed several times over the first two months of the season, but is it a reality this time?
Fresh off his first career complete game, Phil Hughes appears to be finally settling in as the starter the Yanks had hoped for. Of course, the 25-year-old did win 18 games in 2010; however that consistency sometimes feels like it was eons ago.
Still, he has managed to get his season ERA under 5.00 (4.96), and in his last six starts he has only given up more than two runs on two occasions.
Maybe, just maybe, Phil Hughes has turned that proverbial “corner.”
Can Andy Pettitte Still Bring It?
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Who would have thought that the mighty Yankees would be relying on a 39-year-old retiree to add some stability to a shaky starting five? But a familiar friend, Andy Pettitte, has done just that.
Through four games the elder statesman has pitched into the seventh inning in all his contests and stands with a 3.49 ERA.
Anticipating Pettitte to repeat his glory years at this stage is asking for a lot. But, let’s give credit where credit is due. He’s given a team with a revolving door for a starting rotation an "old reliable.”
Soriano Appears to Be Happy...Finally
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
For the past year and half, it’s been hard for Yankee faithful to warm up to Rafael Soriano.
Whether, it was a loose tongue, bad body language, or downright horrendous results, his acquisition appeared to be an enormous bust.
After losing Mariano Rivera and David Robertson sidelined for their respective periods of time, Soriano was given a shot to prove he was still the same player that recorded 45 saves for Tampa in 2010.
In his last eight appearances he has seven saves and starting to look like the man the Bombers paid for.
It’s been documented that Soriano wants to close, which makes little sense with Rivera running the show. But nevertheless, Rivera is sidelined for the year, and Soriano has his wanted shot.
Oh Yeah. That Jeter Guy
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Anyone who expected this scorching pace from Derek Jeter to keep up would have to be in possession of an ever-growing nose.
Even after finishing 2011 with a .297 AVG, even his biggest fans would be hard pressed to foresee a sizzling start like this sustaining from the soon to be 38-year-old.
“The Captain” has “fallen” to a .336 AVG after an out-of-this world beginning. But, still the Yankee table setter is third in American League batting and provided a punch for a sometimes beleaguered lineup.
Hopefully the future Hall of Famer can remain one of the “boys” of summer for as long as possible.
Oh Those Guys, They're Never Good
Counting teams out of a race just because they aren’t accustomed to the limelight is a dangerous process. Simply saying Baltimore and Toronto don’t belong anywhere near the top isn’t giving them credit for what they’ve accomplished.
However, I’m going against the grain and saying they don’t belong there and eventually will fall by the wayside.
In a week and a half, two integral parts of the team might be “getting the band back together.”
After being sidelined since the end of April, it's conceivable outfielder Brett Gardner might be rejoining the team for the Subway Series this weekend. Replacements Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones have had their moments, but neither provides the speedy dynamic of Gardner’s play-making legs.
As for Robertson, after being handed the keys to the Yankees bullpen castle, his strained oblique has kept him a spectator since mid-May. For the time being, it appears his relieving counterpart Soriano has nailed down the closer role, but “You cant explain baseball Susan!”, meaning anything can happen.
Even if Robertson were to remain in the eighth inning when he returns to a little over a week, that’s obviously not a bad thing. That’s were he has emerged to be the player he is.