New York Yankees: 4 Ways the Yankees Can Have a Successful July
Well, June is officially over, folks, and I don't think anyone's more sad to see it go than the New York Yankees.
New York definitely found their stride this month, but even with a 20-7 record, the Yanks still had quite a roller-coaster June.
Losing CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte isn't good no matter how you slice it, and other pieces of this team are starting to quietly and quickly falter.
Looking at you, bullpen.
Still, the Yankees were able to make it out of June as the hottest team in baseball, but the season is just starting to heat up. Plus, in the impossibly difficult AL East, a five-game lead isn't even worth mentioning.
So, with July officially upon us, it's time for the Yankees to keep doing what they do best—that's find ways to win.
Still, it won't be easy, and things can go south in a hurry for the Bombers, unless, of course, they listen to me and follow these four easy steps.
Weather the Injury Storm
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It's not an ideal situation, but at this point, Joe Girardi and the Bombers really don't have much of an option.
With CC Sabathia out until at least after the All-Star break and Andy Pettitte gone for probably the rest of the summer, the Yankees are headed toward a mound of trouble (see what I did there?) if they don't get their pitching situation straightened out.
Thankfully, the Yanks have been pretty lucky so far with injuries. There haven't been many, and even when there is one, the Yanks have found ways to step up to the challenge.
Rafael Soriano has filled in quite nicely for the great Mariano Rivera, and David Robertson was barely missed during his DL stint.
Oh, and Dewayne Wise? Who saw that one coming?
The Bombers' luck has continued since the sudden losses of Sabathia and Pettitte. Hiroki Kuroda looks like he's coming around at the right time, Phil Hughes seems up for the challenge and Ivan Nova is still pitching like Ivan Nova, which is always a good thing.
It's all up to the young guns now to step up and fill those empty spots.
Unfortunately, Adam Warren didn't last long on the roster after giving up six runs in his major league debut, and David Phelps isn't the kind of name that instills confidence yet in Yankees fans.
Either way, there's still hope if the Yankees can just make it through the first two weeks of July. Age is always a factor, and there's a good chance that another everyday player over 30 may end up on the DL before this month is through, but the Bombers have always been known for their resilience, and this month shouldn't be any different.
Open and Close July with Big Divisional Wins
The first and last weeks of July are big ones for the Bronx Bombers if they want to keep their divisional lead intact.
Before they can get to the All-Star break, the Yanks first have to get through a road trip that include three games in St. Petersburg and four games in Fenway, including a double-header on Saturday, July 7.
The final five games of the month have the Sox and Orioles coming to the Bronx for some more divisional fun.
In other words, the power in the AL East can shift pretty quickly and substantially this month. Even with a five-game lead, the division is possibly the strongest it's ever been, and you just can't count any of these teams out yet. They're all hungry, and they all have something to prove (yes, even Toronto).
Plus, when you factor in the shaky bullpen and the fact that the Bombers have now lost 40 percent of their starting rotation, one losing streak can easily spell doom the first place Yanks.
But that's okay, because the Yankees' lineup is as solid as it's ever been, right? That's why they keep winning so much, right?
Well...you'd be surprised...
Better Situational Hitting
The fact that the Yanks won 20 games this month is even more astonishing when you look at how bad they were with runners in scoring position.
In fact, with the lineup that the Yankees can post day in and day out, .227 isn't bad—it's downright horrendous.
And let's not overlook the .184 average with the bases loaded. Even their overall batting average went down this month, from .263 in May to .247 in June.
Simply put, the Yanks have to get better in big situations if they want to keep piling up the wins, especially now, with the potential pitching woes and big-time divisional games coming up.
It makes you wonder how long the Yanks can keep this up, especially with guys like Jeter, Tex, A-Rod and Grandy stuck in quite a hitting slump (.230 collectively).
I guess if they keep hitting long balls at their current rate, though, who the hell really cares? There's a fine line between winning and losing when you rely on home runs all the time, though.
No matter what direction New York's hitting goes in July, there's one player who must keep up his pace if the Yankees want at least a shot to repeat their June success...
Cano Is the Key
It's somewhat silly to place the success of an entire baseball team on the shoulders of one guy, especially when you're talking about the Yankees.
But that's exactly what I'm going to do.
Robinson Cano is that one guy, and it's no surprise that once Cano got hot, so did the Yanks.
Cano has proven to be the kind of player that continuously makes big plays at big times, and after a slow two months, it looks like Cano has finally found his swing.
Now, he just has to keep it up.
June saw a scorching Cano heat up in basically every single category, and if history is any indication, July should see him produce even more when he's at the plate. If he can continue to hit at his .300 pace, the Yanks should still be sitting pretty at the top of the AL East for quite some time.
Hopefully, his Home Run Derby appearance won't mess up his swing all that much. The Yankees could really use another 11 home runs in July from him, if it isn't too much trouble.
Obviously, the rest of this $200 million payroll is far from expendable, especially now with all the injuries. Every bat matters, and a few players still have to step it up in July if the Yanks want a June repeat.
But Cano is still the biggest factor of them all. He's the straw that stirs the drink
Cano has started to transition into the heart and soul of this entire team, and he's a perennial MVP candidate every single year on a team filled with All-Stars and legends.
As long as Robbie keeps rolling, hopefully so will the Yankees.