The New York Yankees have a situation. And it is pretty simple to know what the situation is regarding: the AL East.
The Yankees goal is to win the division, but the Tampa Bay Rays are standing in the way. The Rays have kept pace with New York and vice versa, as both teams are tied for first place.
The Yankees need to get in sync and end this awful August run.
A turn-around by AJ Burnett, who is taking a lot of blame, is not the main issue.
Is Burnett a problem? Yes, Burnett is throwing heat clocking 95+ mph. However, Burnett lacks control and command, and hitters are crushing the ball when he does throw strikes. His ERA in August is 6.08 in 26.1 innings pitched, giving up 5 homeruns, 18 earned runs, 10 walks, and 18 strikeouts. Yikes!
In 2009, Burnett played a vital part in the team’s success. Obviously something is not clicking on the mound, but whatever is being done to fix the issue is not working.
My suggestion is to use Burnett where he is most reliable, in the first three innings of a game. Javier Vazquez and Sergio Mitre (both of whom have starting experience) are in the pen and can at least cover four or five innings total. Then Joba and Kerry Wood can cover an inning and a half.
With the expanding rosters effective tomorrow, the Yankees can bring up some extra pitching arms for the bullpen. This allows Burnett to relax and allows Andy Pettitte to return from the DL without rushing or else it could be trouble again.
The other problem comes from the Yankees' hitters, who are starting to leave runners on the base pads over and over again.
In Friday night’s loss to the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees stranded 11 runners on base. The only production came from Nick Swisher’s bat.
For now, the Yankees are sans the power of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixiera. It is not ideal, but it is manageable. In addition to Robinson Cano and Swisher, getting production from Marcus Thames, Brett Gardner, and Curtis Granderson is enough to win.
It is hard to make judgment calls when the Yankees never give the full details in regards to injuries or innings limits. Even skipper Joe Girardi seems to bend his rules to fit the Yankees model—which is to win.