The New York Yankees have endured a lot of success so far this season, but how they’ve been successful is what has really been intriguing. With the retirement of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera the last two years, it looked like the last line of Yankee superstars had left the building. This left Yankee fans worrying about the team and how they would fair this year in the always competitive American League East division. Fast forward to the second week of May, and the Bronx Bombers have managed to be one of the first teams to win 20 games this year, and hold first place in the AL East.
I’ll admit, when I first saw the Yankees’ Opening Day roster, I feared for the worst. I thought some of these superstars that they have brought in over the last few years had their better days behind them. I’ve never heard of half of the bullpen guys they had, and thought to myself this is going to be a rough year. But the Yankees have proved not only me, but a majority of the baseball world wrong this season.
Michael Pineda has developed into the ace that the Yankees had hopped for, coming off a 16-strikeout performance yesterday against the Baltimore Orioles and holding a 5-0 record; Nathan Eovaldi has been pitching well, boasting a 3-0 record. With Tanaka going to the DL, Chase Whitley has stepped up and proved he can pitch well and deliver a few victories. Even the bullpen, whose names are now familiar to me, have a very impressive 2.26 ERA. This gives the starters confidence when they come out that they’re turning the ball over to someone who can get the job done.
A big key for the Yankees is how no one in their lineup acts like a superstar. Now you can make a case for Alex Rodriguez, but he is just doing his job within the lineup, along with the rest of the batting order. They are all getting on base and driving each other in, thus generating wins. Everyone is hitting well, and everyone knows their role to help the team win. It’s good ole fashioned baseball what’s going on with the Yankees right now.
The Yankees success in 2015 has been drawing a lot of comparisons to a familiar division rival, the 2012 version of the Orioles team that reversed nearly two decades of losing in Baltimore. The key to the Orioles success in 2012 was, you guessed it, a strong bullpen and the ability for everyone in that lineup to produce. They finished the 2012 season with a record of 93-69, winning the Wild Card but losing to the Yankees in the ALDS (Thank you Raul Ibanez, we still love you). The O’s bullpen finished the year with a 3.00 ERA, and closer Jim Johnson saved an incredible 51 games in 54 chances, and basically ensured the Orioles a win when he got the ball. Ace Wei-Yin Chen led the staff with 12 wins, the staff as a whole limited the amount of runners on base, and pitched deep into games. But in order to win, you have to score. That’s just what the O’s did, and they scored a lot.
The Orioles didn’t have a traditional 40 homer, 100+ RBI guy that most teams have and rely on for most of their offensive production. Instead, they had three different guys drive in 80 or more runs, and five guys hit over 20 home runs. Now that’s being able to trust the guy behind you if you cant get the job done. The Yankees’ lineup appears to be very similar so far this season.
The Yankees early success might be a sign of things to come. If they want to keep winning at a high level like they expect, then they have to continue to take notes from the 2012 Orioles squad. The Yankees bullpen needs to continue to be lock-down, the starters need to keep eating up innings and not allowing many free passes, and everyone in the lineup needs to keep swinging a hot bat. Its funny to see the Yankees try and mimic another teams success, because normally teams try to copy the Yankees for success.
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