Yankees first half: A-Rod goes from No. 3 hitter to bench
Alex Rodriguez was the No. 3 hitter, Luis Severino and Nathan Eovaldi were in the rotation and Aroldis Chapman was idling in Tampa, Fla., when the Yankees opened the 2016 season, figuring they had a better club than the 2015 team that hung on for an AL wild card.
Now, A-Rod is a part-timer, Severino’s in the minors, Eovaldi’s in the bullpen and Chapman is a prime trade candidate – all of which contributes to the story line of an inconsistent .500 club.
Standing in fourth place at 44-44 in a competitive AL East, here’s a review of the Yankees’ first half:
The area of greatest disappointment for a club that expected much better out of Eovaldi and Michael Pineda, creating a formidable threesome with Masahiro Tanaka (6-2, 3.12). But Eovaldi (7-6, 5.42) suddenly lost the feel of his splitter and lost his spot, while Pineda (3-8, 5.38) has regressed.
More than a few scouts thought Severino would end the season as the Yanks’ best starter. But his 0-6 record and 7.46
ERA in seven starts earned him a ticket to Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with no promotion in sight.
Ivan Nova (6-5, 5.18) has had his share of dull efforts, and rookie Chad Green has lately been Eovaldi’s replacement. If the Yankees are actually buyers at the trade deadline, this is an area to upgrade.
A-Rod and Teix
Mark Teixeira’s neck and knee problems and A-Rod’s anemic statistics against right-handed pitching (.198/.237/.333) have combined to rob the lineup of significant production. Last year at the break, Rodriguez was slashing .278/.382/.515 with 18 home runs and 51 RBI. Teixeira was at .240/.350/.526 with 22 homers and 62 RBI. Today, A-Rod is at .220/.260/.382 with eight homers and 28 RBI. Teixeira is at .188/.269/.315 with seven homers and 19 RBI. Teixeira seems reasonably confident he can manage his cartilage-damaged knee with lubricant injections and the occasional day off. But A-Rod has been rendered a DH against lefty pitching on days when he’s not the world’s highest paid pinch hitter.
At age 39, Carlos Beltran is having his best season since 2013, leading the club in homers and RBI, making the AL All-Star team – a critical performance given the limited production by A-Rod and Teixeira. Manager Joe Girardi labeled Beltran and shortstop Didi Gregorius as the club’s first-half, co-MVPs.
At 26, the lefty-hitting Gregorius has been scorching since June 14, batting .365 with six doubles, a triple, seven homers and 20 RBI over his last 24 games.
Since relinquishing his closer role to Chapman, lefty Andrew Miller joined Dellin Betances to form an elite setup tandem. As a group, they’ve been dubbed as No Runs DMC. And when the electric trio has appeared in the same game this season, the Yanks are 16-1.
But the Yankees have received subpar performances from the rest of their bullpen, a problem compounded by a rotation that’s barely averaging six innings per start. Johnny Barbato and Kirby Yates didn’t work out, and Chasen Shreve missed time to a shoulder issue. Bryan
Mitchell’s spring training foot injury and Branden Pinder’s loss to Tommy John surgery have robbed the club of needed depth in this area. There’s an outside chance Mitchell might return late this season.
Beltran and Teixeira each reached the 400-career home run mark, but also entered into a more exclusive club. They joined Mickey Mantle (536), Eddie Murray (504) and Chipper Jones (468) as the only switch-hitting members of the 400-homer club. CC Sabathia became just the eighth pitcher in the modern era (since 1901) to post 100 victories with two different teams, reaching that mark with the Yankees in a May 20 victory at Oakland. The lefty won 106 games with the Cleveland Indians.