After being swept by the Padres and the Cubs, then losing 2 of 3 to the Rockies, Braves fans needed yesterday’s one-day reprieve from baseball. Over the last ten games we’ve managed to score only 2.8 runs per game while allowing 6.1 per game. That’s terrible, folks. Julio Teheran and Shelby Miller have been decent; Nick Swisher, Adonis Garcia, and Jonny Gomes have shown a little power; and Andrelton Simmons and Nick Markakis have done a terrific job getting on base. But beyond that, the entire roster has looked like a black hole. All I want is just one good stretch to keep my love alive. Just one streak of good games. And who better to get that against than the no-good, evil Yankees?
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Yankees have been on a bit of a resurgence this season, battling against a mighty Blue Jays squad for first place in the AL East. They currently sit 1.5 games out of first place and have a 91 percent chance of making the post season. Their primary strength has been their aging but elite offense. While Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran are all on the wrong side of thirty (and three of them on the wrong side of 35), they’re hitting like they were back in their primes. Gardner has combined above average power with way more speed than a 32 year old has any business possessing to continue to do what he’s done for the last few years. Both Beltran and McCann have made their 2014 debut-year in the Bronx look like just a momentarily blip, as they’ve both returned to their similar well-rounded combination of above average power and patient, mature approaches at the plate. Finally, Teixeira and Rodriguez have both revitalized their careers by proving that they’ve still got the strength needed to regularly deposit misplaced pitches in the seats. It will be interesting to see how well these guys can continue to perform as the long season takes its toll on their aging bodies, but for now it feels like we’ve gone back to 2009.
While that offense may be top-notch, the pitching staff has been fairly mediocre. The bright spot has been the relief corps, led by Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Those two guys may represent the most frightening pair of relievers in baseball today and provide the foundation for the bullpen’s 3.33 ERA, good enough for 5th in the AL. The starting rotation, however, looks much more tame. Front-line starters Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka have both endured a string of bad luck that’s made their numbers appear worse than how they’ve actually pitched. For Pineda, that bad luck has been due to weak defense and poor sequencing, with both a BABIP and strand rate that are among the worst in baseball. For Tanaka, the issue has been the long ball, as an astounding 17.6 percent of his fly balls have left the yard. None of these things are sustainable, and once smoothed out should reveal two of the better starters in the game. We’ll face Tanaka tonight, followed by Luis Severino and Nathan Eovaldi. Both have the tools to end up being a little better than average, but right now still require polishing.
Perez and Wisler will start things off for us, followed by Julio Teheran on Sunday. All three of those guys are basically unknowns at this point, capable of absolute gems one night but complete dumpster fires the next. If what we get are the gems, we may be able to hold off the Yankee veterans just enough to squeak out a few wins. It’ll be a tough series, but it could easily be closer than one would think, and nothing would bring me more joy than for us to pull this one out.