Keidel: Yankees Give Fans Little Reason To Worry Despite Losing Streak

Jason Keidel
August 23, 2019 - 1:34 pm
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Relax. 

Listen to your team news NOW.

Indeed, follow the famous admonition from Aaron Rodgers when musing over the Yankees. 

The Green Bay Packers stumbled out of the gate in 2014, and the vultures were circling the team, ready to feast on this imminent carrion. Rodgers prescribed the renowned chill pill. The Packers took off, and were a fumbled onside kick away from reaching the Super Bowl. 

The Yanks have no such problems. They've been among the top three teams in baseball all summer long, soaring to 41 games over .500 before their four-game losing streak and 2-5 mark over their last seven contests. 

There's no shame in splitting four games with the Indians. There's even less indignity over losing a few games in Oakland, a chamber of horrors for the Yanks, while posting a 7-21 record over their last 28 contests at Oakland Coliseum. The A's are also 7-1 over their last eight games, and 24-12 since the All-Star break. 

Even with the loaded Los Angeles Dodgers on the slate, there's no need for panic or chaos. Even with Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu - perhaps the best one-two pitching punch in MLB - coming to the mound, the Bombers are all right. Even though the Dodgers are 51-16 at home this season, the Yankees have shown the guts and chops to face and beat the best. 

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For good signs, Aaron Judge is finally hitting, swatting his way out of a savage slump over the last few weeks. Gleyber Torres is doubling-down on his monstrous rookie season, blasting two homers on Thursday, joining Joe DiMaggio as the only Yankees to hit at least 30 homers by age 22.  James Paxton, who seemed to pinball to and from the IL for a while, has won four straight starts, tossing a quality start in three of them. Luis Severino, who recorded a 33-14 record since 2017, is close to throwing his first rehab start and could pitch in pinstripes this season. 

The only envy the Yanks could feel toward their former iconic foes from Brooklyn is their rotation. Ryu is an absurd 12-3, with a Koufax-ian 1.64 ERA. Kershaw is his standard, awesome self, going 13-2 so far with a 2.71 ERA. Kershaw just passed Sandy Koufax in career victories. He's also 19-4 with a 2.21 ERA in 37 interleague starts. This is the main reason the Dodgers have allowed just 489 runs all season - the fewest in MLB - while the Yankees have yielded 615 runs. 

But for all the omens and recent losses, for all the doomsday themes about a late-summer tailspin, the Yanks (83-46) still have the best record in the American League, and trail only the Dodgers (85-44) for the best record in the majors. 

So R-E-L-A-X. 

Maybe a big reason the Yanks look so vulnerable is because their cousins are crushing it in Flushing. Or the fact that they stopped playing the Orioles five times a week. 

If you want to worry, at least legitimately, ponder their pitching in October. Consider another series against the A's, Indians, or Astros - the latter two with exponentially better pitching than the Yanks. Cleveland (512) and Houston (519) have allowed about 100 fewer runs this season. The Astros, in particular, have the kind of October rotation that is a real problem for anyone. But even they are 4-6 over their last ten games. 

The Bronx Bombers have scored the most runs in the sport (756), still have a sound run differential (+141), and are top-three in home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS. Plus, the Yankees maintain an 8-game bulge over Tampa Bay in the AL East. They have done this with a laughable litany of injured players, with up to 16 on the IL at the same time.  And they can still get Severino back, along with long shots Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit, and Delin Betances.

The Yankees are not perfect. These are not the 1998 squad that pummeled the sport like Thanos with the six Infinity stones on his fist. They may not win the World Series this year. But if they don't, it won't be because they played a few fine teams during the dog days. 

Follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonKeidel