BIEBER: Yankees back on top of AL East

It looks like things are getting bright for the Yankees again, as they just went on a promising six-game winning streak. Originally forming on a series-clinching victory against the Seattle Mariners, the team, back at home, was able to sweep the Cincinnati Reds and take three out of four games from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Rotation Steps Up

The Yankees had three dominant starts this week that propelled them to their success. On Tuesday, Jordan Montgomery took the bump against the Cincinnati Reds. Montgomery has struggled in July, going into the start with a 6.56 ERA in the month. However, here was different. Montgomery’s curveball looked a lot better. Combining that with his good sinker, he was able to go for 6.2 inning giving up just 2 hits, 1 run and striking out 6. The Yankees would win by a score of 6-4, giving Montgomery his 7th win of the season.

Things were no different the next day, as it was time for Luis Severino. Sevy continued with his Cy Young caliber season, surrendering only 3 hits and two unearned runs while striking out 9. He was able to go 7.0 innings this game, doing so for the 12th time this season and his 4th start in a row. The Yankees went on to win that game by a score of 9-5. Severino currently holds an ERA of 3.03 and K/9 of 10.2

All of this was topped though by a marvelous performance by Masahiro Tanaka. On Friday against the Rays, Tanaka looked extra special, striking out a career high 14 batters of 8 innings pitched. His off-speed pitches were super deceptive, as batters had no shot getting on top of his splitter. He flirted with perfection surrendering his first 17 batters before giving up Adeiny Hechavarria in the 6th. Tanaka was able to drop his ERA to 5.09 on the year. It was another win for the Yankees, the score was 6-1. Hopefully this part of a turnaround in the second half.

Notable Performances

Brett Gardner collected 2-walk off hits this week, one of which came from an 11th inning shot over the short porch and the other, a single right through the middle of the infield. He now has a total of 8 in his career, being the most by a Yankee since his debut in 2008. Gardner also hit his 18th and 19th home runs of the season which is already the most he’s ever had in a season
Chase Headley continues his stellar July with 6 hits in his last 19 at-bats (.316). He is giving the team production at the first base spot, totaling .953 OPS in 9 games played at the position.

Clint Frazier totaled 5 RBI’s this week, already having 16 so far on the year. Since he got called up, he is 2nd in SLG% (.459) and 5th on the team in OPS (.737) out of players who have played 20 games or more. Rumors are, the organization will send Frazier back down to Triple-A once Aaron Hicks gets from the DL. The team sure would miss a useful bat in the lineup.

Didi Gregorius is showing people why they should’ve voted for him in the All-Star game, hitting 6 home home runs, collecting 12 RBI’s and holding a .338 batting average in the second half. Didi collected these stats in just 17 games played, he had just 10 home runs and 38 RBIs in 63 games in the first half.

More New Additions

In what has been a huge trade deadline, the Yankees made two more big moves. In the wake of Michael Pineda’s season-ending injury, the team acquired pitchers, Jaime Garcia and Sonny Gray. Gray, the big move, has been the anchor of the Oakland A’s rotation the last couple of years and has been on the trade block. Gray is in the middle of a solid bounceback year holding a 3.43 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, and 94 strikeouts over 97.0 innings pitched. Garcia, who was on the Minnesota Twins for a total of six days, is a left-hander who will likely be a long reliever or replace Montgomery. He owns a 4.29 ERA and 1.34 WHIP this season. These moves were made in order to add support to the rotation and protect the bullpen.

The Yankees had to say goodbye to a few pieces of their farm system. Zach Littel and Dietrich Enns were traded in the Jaime Garcia deal. Littel is a 21-year old RHP who was 9-1 with a 1.77 ERA for the Tampa Yankees. Enns is 26 and is going to be Rule 5 eligible this offseason.

Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo, and James Kaprielian were dealt for Sonny Gray. Fowler, who ruptured his patella in the first inning of his major league debut, was the #4 ranked prospect in the organization. He had a .871 OPS with 13 home runs. Mateo, the #8 ranked prospect, is a shortstop/outfielder has 39 stolen bases and was hitting .300 for the Trenton Thunder. Kaprielian, ranked #12, is a LHP, who was a first round pick in 2015.

Batter of the Week: Brett Gardner
GM – 6
AB – 23
R – 5
H – 8
HR – 2
RBI – 3
BB – 5
SB- 1
Slash Line – .348/.483/.696

Pitcher of the Week: Masahiro Tanaka
GM – 1
W – 1
IP – 8.0
ER – 1
H – 2
SO – 14
BB – 0

The Yankees will finish out their homestand with a three game series against the Detroit Tigers. They will then head to Ohio to take on the Indians at Progressive Field. The matchups are currently to be determined at the moment with the additions of Gray and Garcia, however Luis Severino was on the mound on Monday night as the Yanks picked up another win. Highlights below…

– David Bieber is a contributing columnist to FingerLakes1.com covering the New York Yankees with a weekly report published on Monday throughout the season.

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