Relief Spells Victory For Yankees
It seems like interleague has suited the Yankees well. They’re 10-2 so far against the NL (the best interleague record in baseball) after sweeping the Mets, Braves and Nationals in succession. Pitching has everything to do with the team’s nine-game win streak that vaulted New York to the top of the American League standings.
Their June team ERA of 2.14 is by far the best in baseball; Washington is second at 2.95. Despite the loss of Mariano Rivera and the previous absence of setup man David Robertson, the depth of Joe Girardi’s bullpen has been quite the luxury. The sidewinding pair of Cody Eppley (2.76 ERA) and Clay Rapada (3.26 ERA) have done better than anyone could have imagined in the middle innings to set up the lefty Boone Logan (2.28 ERA) and the righty Cory Wade (2.89 ERA). Closer Rafael Soriano has an ERA under two, and getting Robertson back this past week makes the bullpen even more deep and potent. It’s clearly been the key to the team’s success over the past two weeks.
Reds Creating NL Central Separation
Cincinnati swept the Mets over the weekend in the lone NL series and the Reds are slowly starting to separate themselves from the rest of the NL Central. Pittsburgh doesn’t really have the offense to sustain their current 34-31 success, their -22 run differential is the worst mark among NL teams over .500, and the Cardinals and Brewers are currently struggling. Johnny Cueto has once again put forth a fantastic start after a truncated 2011 season and the offense led by Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips is playing well enough to supplement the pitching staff.
“We got outpitched, we got outhit,” Mets manager Terry Collins said after being swept on Sunday. “They did exactly what we’ve been doing, and that is they get the top of the order up with that outstanding middle of the lineup they have to come in and drive in runs.”
Combine that with a bullpen led by lefties Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman and you have a team that will contend all season long.
Thoughts & Theories
-After sweeping the Brewers and taking two of three from their in-state rival Cardinals, the Kansas City Royals are just five games out in the mediocre AL Central. They outlasted St. Louis in 15 innings on Sunday and if they improve their record at home, currently 11-20, they could hang around in this divisional race.
-Colorado is 25-40, 1-11 in interleague play, and ready to sell off parts. Troy Renck reports that the team is considering trading Jeremy Guthrie to Toronto and Joel Sherman even suggests that they deal Carlos Gonzalez to go full bore into their rebuilding mode. Renck intimated that they’re probably in preliminary discussions with other teams on veterans, which is wise because this team is going nowhere.
-Unexpectedly, Oakland 1B/OF Brandon Moss hit five homers in the last week to go with a .348 average to win my hitter of the week award. The A’s have been looking for a full-time 1B and Moss will get his fair shot. On the pitching end, it’s hard to argue against Moss’ Bay Area counterpart Matt Cain, who’s perfect game kinda locked up the honors for the week.