The Yankees tore the cover off the ball in August, but the pitching staff compiled its worst month of the season by far, as evidenced by the following table (all statistics referenced in this post are courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference):
The Yankees hit a whopping .288/.365/.502 as a team in August, good for a .378 monthly wOBA — their best monthly mark since July 2007′s absurd .395 — and a 137 wRC+, their third-best rate in that category of any month during the last 10 seasons. They also scored a season-high 6.14 runs per game, making for an all-around beastly month at the dish.
Unfortunately, the pitching staff, after turning in month after month of fine performances, hit a wall in August — while both the starters and relievers walked fewer men than in any month, their HR/9 rates skyrockted, and the hits just kept falling in against the starters (.330 BABIP), helping lead to an ugly 5.35 starters’ ERA on the month. However, before you start heading for the hills, take note of the fact that the rotation’s FIP was 4.14, while their xFIP — considered one of the best estimators for future ERA — was 3.44. While there were certainly a fair amount of less-than-desirable outings by pretty much every member of the rotation in August, there was clearly also a fair amount of bad luck involved as well.
They actually only played eight games at home in August and split them, but really killed it on the road, with a 13-7 record. Despite their strong overall play on the month, they were only able to gain 0.5 game on Boston, who beat them three times in August. The Yankees’ Pythagorean record is 85-49, so again, for as well as the Yankees have played they actually could be even better.
Here’s how the offense performed in August (click on any image to enlarge):
Curtis Granderson: good at baseball. Also good: Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Also, apparently not dead yet: Derek Jeter. Russell Martin also finally had his best offensive month since April. The only members of the offense that couldn’t really get it going were Brett Gardner — whose August woes I illustrated yesterday — and Eduardo Nunez. Also, Mark Teixeira needs to be better than .241/.331/.481.
Here’s the offense on the season:
Derek Jeter’s scorching-hot bat has his season wOBA up to .330, something I admittedly never thought I’d see happening. It’s a little strange to see no member of this team with an OBP above .390, but having five members of the lineup at a wRC+ of 129 or higher is pretty great. And if Jesus Montero can come up and provide at least league average production, the Yankees should finally have >100 wRC+ hitters in all nine spots of the everyday lineup.
Here’s how the pitching staff fared in August:
Raise your hand if you knew that Ivan Nova accumulated the most fWAR on the staff in August. Love that 55.6% GB% — maybe he is the second coming of Chien-Ming Wang after all, but with strikeouts too. Also, despite the blowup start against the A’s and the so-so outing against the Sox last night, Phil Hughes actually had a fairly reasonable month, at least peripheral-wise. While the Ks aren’t quite where you’d want them to be, the walk rate was down, leading to a shiny 3.64 FIP. If Phil were to actually toss to a 3.79 ERA going forward as xFIP seems to think, we’d all be doing backflips.
Here’s the pitching staff on the season:
Despite his worst month of the season, CC Sabathia has already matched his 6.3 fWAR from 2009, and there’s still a month to go on the season. I know he’s more or less fallen out of the Cy Young race, but there’s basically no chance the Yankees would be sitting comfortably in a playoff position without the big man’s contributions this year. Hopefully contract extension negotiations go as smoothly as possible this offseason. CC’s already been worth more than what he’s earned in his three with the Yankees; pay the man whatever he wants.
In any event, even with their worst pitching month of the season, the Yankees are poised to continue to throw well. Their luck basically evened out during August, and the staff’s pitching triple slash line sits at a remarkably even 3.69 ERA/3.71 FIP/3.73 xFIP, which means they are who we thought they were: a strong staff that probably got a little home run-lucky for a good portion of the year, but who can strike batters out with the best of ‘em (7.43 K/9 is first in the AL) while limiting the damage via the walk. At this point they may not end up posting the best team ERA since 1978 — their 3.69 mark is currently tied with the 1985 squad — but they should be able to come in at under 4.00, which would be only the 11th in 34 seasons were they to accomplish that.
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees