They are far and away the most complete team in the AL East, and the argument can be made that they are tops in all of baseball.
Their bench play has been fantastic—Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix and DeWayne Wise have all exceeded expectations—and the starting rotation has overcome some early season hiccups to become one of the strongest staffs in the American League.
CC Sabathia has anchored that staff, even though he missed two starts because of a brief stint on the disabled list to nurse a sore groin.
He returned on Tuesday night for a home game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only did he pitch well, he pitched extremely well.
Through six innings, Sabathia allowed just four hits and one walk to go with six strikeouts. It took him 87 pitches (66 strikes) to shut the Blue Jays out through six-plus innings—he pitched to one batter in the seventh.
While the Yankees have a commanding division lead, and everything seems to be firing on all cylinders for them, the second half success of the club hinges on the performance of their ace left-hander.
Sabathia notoriously improves when the weather gets warmer, and now that the calendar is rapidly closing in on August, we should be getting ready to see the dominant Sabathia that we’re used to.
In no way has he been a slouch this season, however. He’s 10-3 on the year with a 3.27 ERA, 111 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.25. If his ERA were below 3.00, we’d be talking about Sabathia as a potential Cy Young candidate.
The bullpen has been stellar, but long outings from starting pitchers are always good for an overworked ‘pen. Sabathia’s reputation as a workhorse will be essential to resting manager Joe Girardi’s bullpen in the second half.
So, in short, as Sabathia goes, the Yankees go. There’s no reason to expect anything less than success for Sabathia in the second half. Therefore, there’s no reason to expect anything but the same from the Yankees.