Despite being just a few games out of first place in the American League East division standings, 2015 does not appear to be the year for the New York Yankees.
With injuries mounting and the Toronto Blue Jays on a drive of destiny to their first postseason birth since 1993, New York wasn’t even as close to a division title as the standings suggested. That said, even ifÂ the Yankees fail to make a deep run in the playoffs, this season has been encouraging, to say the least.
New York struck gold with its offseason addition of Nathan Eovaldi, who appears to be a legitimate piece of the team’s starting rotation after going 14-3 this season before going down Sept. 7 with elbow inflammation. Sure, he benefitted from some great run support, but if his injury isn’t a serious one, he’ll figure to be a solid number 2 or 3 starter with a bright future at just 25. Fellow starter Michael Pineda, just 26 himself, has also proven to be a solid piece despite some injury concerns, going 12-8 with 147 strikeouts.
Speaking of future cogs, rookie Luis Severino has lived up to the massive hype, rapidly progressing through the team’s minor league system and emerging as MLB-ready starter at just 21. For the past few years, Yankees fans have lamented the lack of young arms in the team’s rotation, but it appears those days are over.
While ace Masahiro Tanaka has battled some injuries this season, it’s safe to say he defied some expectations by pitching in 23 games despite his questionable decision to forgo surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament injury he suffered mid-season last year. If Tanaka can avoid any more setbacks with his UCL, the Yankees’ rotation appears to be in very good shape.
There’s a lot to like about the Yanks’ hitters, too.
2015 represented a rebirth for aging stars Mark Teixeira (31 home runs, 79 RBI in 111 games) and Alex Rodriguez (32 home runs, 84 RBI), who, along with Brian McCann (26 home runs, 91 RBI) and Carlos Beltran (18 home runs, 63 RBI), provided the power in the middle of the lineup that’s been missing in recent seasons.
Despite Tex’s late-season injury and A-Rod’s late-season dip in production, the duo definitely have some gas left in the tank. With the emergence of rookie first baseman Greg Bird (10 home runs in 38 games), head coach Joe Girardi will also have the luxury of giving Teixeira and Rodriguez the rest they need to stay sharp and healthy without losing production, too.
While the top of the lineup looked great at the start of the season, both Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner will need to play more consistently next season. The same can be said about the bottom of the order. Surely, finding a better option at second base will be an offseason priority.
New York has its flaws, but despite being a solid step or two behind Toronto this season, there’s plenty to be excited about for 2016. Dare I say, even a World Series run?