Yankeemetrics: The Bronx is burning? (August 7-9)

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Offense optional
So what happens when the two highest-scoring teams in the majors get together for a game at Yankee Stadium … of course, the final score would be 2-1.

And what happens when the Yankees have Nate Eovaldi on the mound, who entered the game with the second-highest run support average and tied for the highest win percentage among qualified starters … of course, the Yankees would score just one run and lose the game.

Or what happens when the Yankees face the team with the second-worst record in one-run games this season … of course, they’d get beat by the the score of 2-1 against the Blue Jays, who entered the weekend 11-23 in games decided by one run.

Mark Teixeira drove in the Yankees’ only run with a solo homer in the second inning, his 30th home run of the season. It’s the ninth time he’s reached that milestone, matching Mickey Mantle for the most 30-homer seasons all-time by a switch-hitter.

In the words of the philosopher-manager Joe Girardi, “it’s not what you want.” Nope, Joe, scoring zero runs against a team that is chasing you in the division race is not exactly what you want.

The Yankees were blanked on Saturday afternoon, 6-0, and had just three singles the entire game. It was the first time they been shut out by the Blue Jays at home and held to three hits or fewer, with no extra-base hits, since April 10, 1989. The Yankees were one-hit by Dave Stieb in a 8-0 loss that day.

Justin Smoak broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning with a grand slam, the first time ever that a Blue Jay had hit a homer with the bases loaded at Yankee Stadium (old or new). The last Blue Jay to hit a grand slam against the Yankees was Tony Fernandez off Ted Lilly on Sept. 4, 2001 at the SkyDome.

Panic city?
So remember when the Yankees had scored 90 runs in a 10-game span and the offense seemed unstoppable? Yeah, me neither. The Yankees were shut out for a second straight day on Sunday afternoon, 2-0, and were swept by the Blue Jays in a series of at least three games for the first time since May 22-25, 2003.

It also marked the first time the Yankees had been blanked in back-to-back games by any team since May 12-13, 1999 against the Angels — snapping their major-league-record streak of 2,665 games without consecutive shutouts.

They were held to three singles for the second straight game, too, the first time they’ve had threw or fewer hits and none for extra bases in back-to-back games at either version of Yankee Stadium. The last time they did that in consecutive home games was September 1919 at the Polo Grounds.

The not-Bronx Bombers have now scored no more than two runs in each of their last five home games, their longest such streak at Yankee Stadium since April 17-May 2, 1969. In those five games they’ve totaled just four runs, their worst five-game scoring stretch since August 1973 on a west coast trip against the Angels and A’s.

And it gets even uglier … this is the first time in franchise history they’ve scored four or fewer runs combined in a five-game span, with all those games coming at Yankee Stadium (old or new). The last time that happened to them in a five-game stretch at home was September 1908, when they played at Hilltop Park. They finished the 1908 season 51-103, the second-worst win percentage in a season in franchise history.

Yankeemetrics: The Future has arrived (August 4-6)

Luis, you're No. 1. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Luis, you’re No. 1. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Been here, done that
The Red Sox held the Yankees offense mostly in check for the first half of Tuesday’s game — but that just delayed the inevitable scoring explosion that was to come in the sixth and seventh innings. They scored 12 runs in those two frames — including nine in the seventh — en route to another blowout win.

It was the first time they scored nine runs in an inning since … oh yeah, last Tuesday against the Rangers. Time flies, eh? Less than two weeks ago, they’d hadn’t put up a nine-spot in any inning since the final series of the 2012 season against the Red Sox — and now they did it twice in a span of seven days.

Chris Young and Brian McCann were the big thumpers for the Yankees, both crushing three-run homers in the seventh to turn the game into a rout. It was the first time Yankee teammates hit a pair of three-run dingers in the same inning against the Red Sox since Melky Cabrera and Jorge Posada on August 6, 2009.

With the win over the Red Sox and their stud prospect, Henry Owens, who was pitching in his first career big-league game, the Yankees are now 9-1 over the past five seasons when an opposing team starts a pitcher making his major-league debut.

Merry Severino-mas!
Luis Severino, meet Hype; Hype, meet Luis Severino … The Yankees top prospect lived up to (and probably exceeded) all expectations in his major-league debut on Wednesday night, holding the Red Sox to just two runs on two hits with seven strikeouts in five innings.

His performance was arguably one of the most impressive by any Yankee making his first career start in franchise history. Onto the bullet points!

• Before Severino, no Yankee pitcher had ever struck out at least seven guys while giving up two-or-fewer hits in his major-league debut.
• At the age of 21 years and 166 days, Severino also became the youngest Yankee with at least seven strikeouts and no more than two hits allowed in a game.
• And he joined Mike Mussina and David Cone as the only Yankees in the last 50 years to have seven-plus strikeouts and surrender fewer than three baserunners against the Red Sox. Mussina’s gem was his near-perfect game on Sept. 2, 2001 and Cone’s effort came on Sept. 8, 1998.

And he did all of this against the Red Sox, at Yankee Stadium, in front of national television audience on ESPN. Poise, confidence, swagger, cojones, whatever you want to call it, Severino seems to have it.

Of course, this being baseball, the Yankee bats suddenly went ice-cold and Severino ended up with a loss, ruining what could have been a perfect night in the Bronx. He became the first Yankee starter to lose in his major-league debut despite allowing one earned run or fewer since Bob McGraw in 1917.

#TBT: Ace Sabathia
The Yankees took the rubber game against the Red Sox on Thursday night thanks to a vintage performance from CC Sabathia and a timely homer from a slumping Jacoby Ellsbury.

For Sabathia, it was the first time he had as many as eight strikeouts, and gave up as few as three hits and one run in a game since Sept. 21, 2012 against the A’s. When Jackie Bradley Jr. took ball four in the fifth inning, it was the first walk Sabathia had issued to a true left-handed batter this year. He entered the game having faced 108 lefties, the most of any pitcher that hadn’t walked one yet this season.

Jacoby Ellsbury — who entered the game 7-for-47 (.149) in his previous 12 games — was the unlikely offensive hero with a tie-breaking solo homer in the seventh inning. Over the last 30 years, Ellsbury and Bernie Williams (2003) are the only Yankee center fielders to hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later against Red Sox at Yankee Stadium

Andrew Miller sealed the win by punching out Rusney Castillo to end the game, earning his 24th save in 24 chances this season. He now has the third-longest streak of converted saves to begin a stint with a team in major-league history, behind only Brad Lidge (44 with Phillies in 2008-09) and Willie Hernandez (32 with Tigers in 1984).

Yankeemetrics: Scoring on the road is easy (July 31-Aug. 2)

This guy is good at baseball. (Jeff Haynes/AP Photo)
This guy is good at baseball. (Jeff Haynes/AP Photo)

So I guess the Yankees figured out how to score away from the Bronx, eh?

It got so bad in Friday’s 13-6 win that the White Sox used designated hitter Adam LaRoche in the ninth inning, the third time this season that a position player has pitched against the Yankees. The last time three position players pitched against the Yankees in a single season was 1964 when the Angels’ Willie Smith did it three times, and the last time three different position players pitched against them was 1944.

Mark Teixeira broke the game open with a grand slam in the second inning off southpaw Carlos Rodon, the 10th of his career and second this season. He added a two-run homer in the fourth inning off righty Matt Albers, marking the 14th time he’s homered from both sides of the plate in a single game. That’s the most such games in major-league history, and one more than former Yankee Nick Swisher.

He finished with six RBI, joining Lou Gehrig (1934) as the only Yankee first basemen ever to drive in that many runs against the White Sox. The only other Yankee first baseman in the last 75 years with a grand slam against the White Sox are Jason Giambi (2003), Tino Martinez (1997) and Don Mattingly (1987).

A-Rod had himself a nice day at the plate, too, with two hits and three walks and four runs scored. He’s just the fourth player at the age of 40-or-older to reach base at least five times and score four runs in a game in the last 100 years. The others are Rickey Henderson (1999), Dave Winfield (1994) and Reggie Jackson (1986). Yes, all of them are former Yankees, but none did it in pinstripes besides A-Rod.

The Melkman cometh
One day after their 13-run explosion against the White Sox, the Yankees managed just five hits and two runs in a loss on Saturday night. Baseball, I guess?

Friday was eighth game this season that the Yankees scored double-digit runs … they’ve now scored 23 runs combined in the next game, or an average of 2.9 per game, and in five of those eight games they’ve been held to two runs or fewer.

Our old friend Melky Cabrera put the game out of reach with a three-run homer in the fifth inning, giving the White Sox a 6-1 lead. That gave him nine homers in 128 career at-bats against the Yankees, or one every 14 at-bats. Against everyone else in his career, he’s hit a homer once every 54 at-bats.

Bronx bombers are back
The Yankees finished off their 10-game road trip with another offensive outburst, crushing the White Sox 12-3 on Sunday afternoon to win the rubber game of the series. The Yankees haven’t lost a series since the end of June, getting seven series wins and one split in that span. Muy bueno.

With 12 runs in this game and 13 in the series opener, it was the first time the Yankees scored 12-or-more runs twice in a single series against the White Sox since May 10-11, 1988 in New York.

The star of the game was an unlikely one, as Stephen Drew tallied a season-high three hits and four RBI from the bottom of the lineup. He was a homer short of the cycle, the first Yankee No. 9 hitter to do that since Joe Girardi on Aug. 23, 1999 against the Rangers. A Yankee batting ninth in the order still has never hit for the cycle.

The last Yankee second baseman with at least a single, double and a triple against the White Sox was Bobby Richardson on July 29, 1962. Richardson had a league-leading 209 hits that season and finished second in the AL MVP race behind teammate Mickey Mantle.

Yankeemetrics: Deep in the heat of Texas (July 27-30)

Over the hill but still raking. (Getty Images)
Over the hill but still raking. (Getty Images)

Al’s birthday bash
Alex Rodriguez certainly has a flair for the dramatic, eh? A-Rod celebrated his 40th birthday in style with a homer in the sixth inning of Monday’s 6-2 win over the Rangers, etching his name in the record books once again.

It was the sixth homer he’s hit on his birthday, the most birthday dingers by any player in MLB history. The solo shot also gave him 16 career RBI on his birthday, tied for the third-most all-time, behind only Lou Gehrig (17) and Al Simmons (19).

He is just the sixth player in baseball history to homer on his 40th birthday, joining the quintet of Chipper Jones, Tony Phillips, Wade Boggs, Joe Morgan and Bob Thurman, and is the oldest Yankee to go deep on his birthday.

A-Rod is also now a member of an even more exclusive group of major-league players to hit homers in their teens, 20s, 30s and 40s — Rusty Staub, Gary Sheffield and Ty Cobb are the only others to do that. Will he become the first to also do it in his 50s? LOL.

Although A-Rod stole the headlines with his birthday blast, Didi Gregorius was the real offensive star of the night, breaking out for a career-high four RBI and his first home run against a left-handed pitcher as a major-leaguer. Before the home run, his 264 career plate appearances vs. lefties without a homer were the third-most among active players.

”It didn’t suck”
Yeah, I think that quote from Chris Young pretty much sums up Tuesday’s 21-5 shellacking of the Rangers. There’s so much statistical awesomeness from this game, let’s just get right to the Yankeemetrics.

The game obviously did not start well for the Yankees, who were down 5-0 early as spot starter (and thankfully DFA’d) Chris Capuano allowed five runs on three hits and five walks before being removed with two outs in the first inning. With that performance, Capuano became the only Yankee starter in last 100 years to allow at least five runs and five walks in less than one inning pitched.

Remember when the Yankees couldn’t score on the road and couldn’t put together big comebacks? Ha! Of course, the Yankees then exploded for 11 runs (and somehow no home runs) in the second inning, their highest-scoring frame since putting up a 12-spot on the Orioles in the bottom of the first on July 30, 2011.

The Yankees knocked Rangers starter Martin Perez out of the game before he could record an out in the second inning, which somehow made Capuano not even the worst starting pitcher in this game. It was the first time that both starters pitched one inning or fewer and allowed at least five runs in a Yankee game since April 23, 1932 against the Philadelphia A’s. The starters that day were Gordon Rhodes for the Yankees and Rube Walberg for the A’s.

The Rangers then turned to Wandy Rodriguez to stop the bleeding, but the Yankees showed no mercy and tagged him for another seven runs. Like Perez, he got just three outs, making this first time in the last 100 years that two pitchers have lasted an inning or fewer and allowed at least seven runs in the same game against the Yankees. In fact, the only other team to do that since 1914 was the Blue Jays on Sept. 28, 2000 against the Orioles.

Sure, the offensive highlights were fun and all. But the MVP of this game was Diego Moreno, who cleaned up Capuano’s mess in the first inning and tossed 5 1/3 innings without allowing a run or a hit. He’s the first Yankee reliever to pitch at least five hitless innings since Bob Shirley on Sept. 21, 1986 against the Tigers, and the first to do that and get the win since Tom Morgan in 1956 against the Indians.

So, in the end, the Yankees scored 21 runs after being down 5-0, the most unanswered runs they’ve scored in any game since August 12, 1953 against the Senators.

Finally, because many of you have asked, let’s cap it off with this gem from the Elias Sports Bureau: the Yankees are the first team in MLB history to allow the first five (or more) runs of game and then score 21 or more unanswered runs.

Back to reality
The Yankee bats were humbled by the Rangers in the third game of their four-game series, scoring just two runs on eight hits in the 5-2 loss.

Tuesday’s outburst was the 17th time in franchise history they scored 21-or-more runs, but Wednesday was just the second time that they failed to score more than two runs in their next game. It also happened July 25, 1999 when they beat the Indians 2-1, one day after they crushed them 21-1.

If there was anything positive that came out of the game, it was probably the debut of pitcher Caleb Cotham. The former fifth-round pick struck out four and walked none in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. The only other Yankee in the last 100 years to not allow a run or a walk and strike out at least four guys in his first career major-league game was Stan Bahnsen in 1966. Bahnsen would go on to win the Rookie of the Year award in 1968.

Tex hot, CC not
For the first time since the first week of July, the Yankees have an official losing streak. They lost again on Thursday night on a game-ending single by Josh Hamilton in the bottom of the ninth inning, their first walk-off loss against the Rangers since Sept. 11, 2010.

CC Sabathia’s decline is really hard to watch. He turned in yet another poor outing in this game, one that included three homers over five innings pitched. Two of those longballs were by left-handed batters, the first time he allowed multiple homers to lefties in a single game since Aug. 12, 2011.

Mark Teixeira gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead with his 25th homer of the season in the first inning, the 10th time in his career he’s reached that milestone. The only other switch hitters in MLB history with 10-or-more seasons of at least 25 home runs are Eddie Murray (12), Chipper Jones (10) and Mickey Mantle (10).

Tex wasn’t finished after that blast, though, giving the Yankees a 6-5 lead with another solo homer in the seventh. This was his 40th career multi-homer game, tied with Jones for the second-most all-time among switch-hitters; the only guy with more is Mantle (46).

Yankeemetrics: All roads lead to Target Field (July 24-26)

#ClutchRod (AP Photo)
#ClutchRod (AP Photo)

The Yankees’ winning formula has been to score early and often, and thrash their opponents with lots of homers. The Twins took a page out of the Yankees playbook on Friday night, however, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and hitting four home runs in their 10-1 victory.

The nine-run blowout was the Yankees worst loss to the Twins since July 31, 1991 (12-3) and their worst defeat in Minnesota since April 5, 1989 (12-2). It was also the most home runs the Twins have hit against the Yankees in more than 20 years. On August 6, 1994, Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Pedro Munoz and Shane Mack each hit homers in the Twins 10-4 victory that day.

The Yankees made a lot of loud outs and got 10 hits in the game, but managed just a single run on a sac fly in the ninth inning. It was the first time they scored one or fewer runs despite having double-digit hits since July 10, 2010 vs. the Mariners. In that span, every other major-league team had done that at least once (and the Pirates have done it eight times!).

As magical as this season has been for the Yankees, there’s still been a couple holes in their resume, including a poor record away from the Bronx and a lack of big comebacks. Entering Saturday, the Yankees were 23-25 on the road and the largest deficit they’d overcome in a game was three runs.

They temporarily patched up both of those holes on Saturday night, scoring eight unanswered runs after trailing 5-0 in the third inning to beat the Twins at Target Field.

A-Rod wrote another chapter in his storybook season, hitting three homers, each one bringing the Yankees closer to an improbable victory, and capped off with his dramatic game-tying shot in the top of the ninth inning. Before this outburst, he had never even hit a single homer at Target Field; his 30 at-bats at the ballpark before his solo longball in the fourth inning were his most at any venue he hadn’t gone deep yet in his career.

At the age of 39 years and 363 days, not only did A-Rod become the oldest Yankee ever to hit three homers in a game, he also is the fifth-oldest in major-league history to do it. The only guys older than him were Stan Musial (41 years old), Jason Giambi (40), Reggie Jackson, (40) and Babe Ruth (40).

It was his fifth career three-home run game, one shy of the MLB record held by Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa, and his third such game with the Yankees. The only other players in franchise history to hit at least three homers in a regular season game three-or-more times are Lou Gehrig (4) and Joe DiMaggio (3).

His third homer knotted the game at 5-5, his sixth game-tying homer in the ninth inning with the franchise. A-Rod and Yogi Berra are the only Yankees in the last 75 years to hit that many game-tying homers in the ninth frame.

Breaking news: the Yankees won a road series! They beat the Twins 7-2 on Sunday to win their first series on the road since sweeping the Mariners in Seattle on June 1-3. If the Yankees were going to break out of their road slump, the most likely choice would have been here at Target Field. They are now 16-5 at the ballpark (which opened in 2010), the best record there by any American League team.

No Yankee starter is pitching better and more consistently than Nathan Eovaldi right now, who turned in his seventh strong outing in a row since getting shelled by the Marlins in mid-June. He’s got a 2.83 ERA in his last seven starts, easily the best among his rotation ‘mates in that span (since June 20). And he is now up to 11 starts this season allowing two runs or fewer, the most among Yankee pitchers.

Chase Headley drove in three of the Yankees’ seven runs with a solo homer in the fifth and a two-run single in the sixth. Before Headley, the last Yankee third baseman with at least three RBIs against the Twins in Minnesota was Robin Ventura on April 18, 2003. Since sitting out three games in the beginning of July with a calf injury, Headley is hitting .359 with 10 RBI in his last 11 games.

Yankeemetrics: Back to baseball, wins (July 17-19)

Winner! (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Winner! (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Deja vu
The Yankees started the second half of the season the same way they ended the first half, beating the Mariners 4-3 on Friday night. It gave them a 4.5-game lead in the AL East, their biggest division lead since August 2012.

A-Rod delivered the game-winning hit with a solo homer in the seventh inning that broke a 3-3 tie. It was his 19th go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later as a Yankee; since he joined the team in 2004, no other Yankee has hit more than 10 such homers.

Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs over seven innings and improved to 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 27 strikeouts in three career starts against the Mariners. He is the fourth Yankee to win each of his first three starts against Seattle (Chien-Ming Wang, Tom Underwood, Tim Leary), but the only one of those guys to do it while striking out at least seven batters in each of those games.

Tanaka’s off-speed pitches have been really impressive over his last two starts. Against the Mariners and A’s (July 9) he threw 144 sliders, curves and splitters combined, and those pitches yielded just two hits while netting him 34 outs.

Oh no, don’t cha know
It’s not often you can say after a baseball game that one player beat you … but that’s pretty much what happened in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Mariners. Robinson Cano hit two homers and drove in all four of the Mariners’ runs — an outburst that hardly could have been predicted before the weekend.

Cano entered the game 9-for-40 (.225) against the Yankees since leaving for the Pacific Northwest two seasons ago, his worst batting average against any American League team in his career. Not only was it his first multi-homer game in a Mariners uniform, it was also the first time he had at least three hits and four RBI in a game over the past two seasons.

Brian McCann drove in both Yankee runs with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 15th home run of the season. He is the ninth catcher in major-league history to hit at least 15 homers in 10-or-more seasons, and one of only three to do that in his first 11 career seasons. The others? Oh, just Mike Piazza and Johnny Bench.

Throwback Sunday
CC Sabathia turned back the clock and delivered a ace-like performance in the series finale, going pitch-for-pitch with King Felix for six innings, and Mark Teixeira hit another clutch late-inning homer to give the Yankees a dramatic win over the Mariners on Sunday afternoon.

Sabathia now has a 2.33 ERA in 13 starts against the Mariners since joining the Yankees, the lowest ERA vs. Seattle by any pitcher in franchise history with at least seven starts against the M’s.

Teixeira’s game-winning blast was his 23rd homer and 63rd RBI of the season, more than he had all of last season … and it’s the middle of July. The big hit came off a 98-mph fastball from Fernando Rodney, the fastest pitch that Teixeira has sent over the fence since August 14, 2012, when he clobbered a 99-mph heater off Alexi Ogando into the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium. Before the home run, Teixeira was 0-for-9 in 11 matchups vs. Rodney, his most plate appearances without a hit against any active pitcher.

2015 Midseason Review: First-half Yankeemetrics

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

As part of Mike’s great Midseason Review series, I’m here to give you some of the amazing (both good and bad) statistical notes from the unofficial first half of the season, plus a quick look ahead to a few of the records that these six Yankees below will be chasing during the remainder of 2015.

Without further adieu, your first-half Yankeemetrics:

Brett Gardner
Gardner is certainly deserving of the being the Yankees’ first-half MVP, and if Mike’s write-up on Tuesday didn’t convince you, then how about this note: Gardner is the second player in franchise history with at least 10 homers, 20 doubles, 15 steals and a .300 batting average at the break. The other? Alfonso Soriano in 2002 — which just happened to be the year he came thisclose to a historic 40-40 season (39 homers, 41 steals).

Something to watch for in the second half: Gardner needs three steals to reach the magic number of 200. He would be the second Yankee, along with Hal Chase, to have 200 stolen bases in their first eight major league seasons — and the only player in franchise history with at least 200 steals and 50 homers through their first eight career seasons.

Mark Teixeira
Teixeira is having a tremendous bounceback season, leading the AL with 62 RBI and also hitting 22 homers. He is just the second Yankee in the last 40 years to be the outright league leader in RBI at the break, along with A-Rod (2007) and Don Mattingly (1985).

This is the third time as a Yankee he’s had at least 20 homers and 60 RBI before the All-Star break (also in 2009, 2011). Since the first All-Star Game in 1933, here’s the list of other Yankees to reach those benchmarks three-or-more times before the break: Mickey Mantle and Jason Giambi.

Something to watch for in the second half: Teixeira is on pace for his first 40-homer season as a Yankee. The only other player in franchise history to hit at least 40 homers in his age 35-season or older is Babe Ruth, who did it three times (1930-32).

Alex Rodriguez
If you told me that A-Rod would have the third-most at-bats on the team (he’s healthy!) and have 18 homers and 51 RBIs (he’s productive!) in the first half of the season, I might have suggested psychological treatment for you. How rare is it for a guy as old as A-Rod to be hitting that well?

The only other players in their age-39 season or older to have at least 18 homers, 50 RBI and 80 hits before the All-Star break (since 1933) are Edgar Martinez (2003), Andres Galarraga (2000) and Dave Winfield (1991). Yup, the Summer of Al continues.

Something to watch for in the second half: If A-Rod can stay healthy and get at least 500 plate appearances this season, while maintaining his current slash line of .278/.382/.515 or better, he’d join Barry Bonds (2004) and Ted Williams (1958) as the only players to finish a season with those marks in their age-39 season or older.

Stephen Drew
Of course we had to put Drew’s bizarre statistical first half into context, even if he might just be a bench guy in the second half (yes, please). With 12 homers and an unfathomable .182 batting average in the first half, Drew is the first player in franchise history to hit double-digit home runs and have a batting average under .200 at the break.

In fact, his .182 batting average is the third-lowest in major-league history for any player with at least 10 homers in the unofficial first half of the season. The only guys with a lower average are the Cubs’ Mike Olt (.144 in 2014) and the Twins’ Tim Laudner (.181 in 1987).

Something to watch for in the second half: I don’t think Drew is going to get enough at-bats to reach 20 or 25 homers, but what if he gets to 15? The lowest batting average for a guy that hit at least 15 homer runs in a season is .179, done by Dan Uggla (2013) and Rob Deer (1991). That’s doable!

CC Sabathia
At least he is healthy, right? Well, that might actually be the problem, because Joe Girardi has little choice but to keep sending Sabathia out there every fifth day (sort of) despite his ugly numbers (4-8, 5.47 ERA).

Sabathia is the third Yankee starter to lose at least eight games before the break with an ERA of 5.40 or higher. The other pitchers on this inglorious list are Tim Leary (1991) and Ralph Terry (1964). In the words of the aforementioned manager, “it’s not what you want.”

Something to watch for in the second half: How bad can it get for CC the rest of the season? The highest ERA for any Yankee pitcher that qualified for the ERA title in a non-strike season is 5.30 by Bump Hadley in 1937. (Unfortunately, Hadley is better known for something else that season, as the pitcher that beaned Hall-of-Famer Mickey Cochrane and ended his career.)

Dellin Betances
Betances couldn’t quite match his numbers from the first half of the season last year (84 strikeouts, 1.46 ERA), but still has had a terrific couple of months so far with 77 strikeouts and a 1.53 ERA.

Those back-to-back first-half performances are unprecedented for any pitcher since the first All-Star Game in 1933. That’s right, no pitcher (starter or reliever) in that span has entered the break with at least 75 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.60 or lower in back-to-back seasons. Bravo, Betances.

Something to watch for in the second half: Last year Betances set the single-season franchise record for the most strikeouts (135) by a pitcher with zero starts. He’s probably not going to break that record again, but even if he regresses a bit and finishes the year with more modest numbers, he’d do something that no reliever in major-league history has ever done: consecutive seasons with at least 115 strikeouts and a sub-2.00 ERA.