It's truly amazing what the Yankees have been able to accomplish so far in 2014 given the circumstances they have been playing under.
Coming into the season having spent near half a billion dollars in free-agency, the Yankees quickly fell victim to the the infectious injury bug, losing four of their five Opening Day starters before the All-Star break, coupling with an offense that never got going.
Starting pitcher Ivan Nova went down for the entire season in April because of Tommy John surgery. CC Sabathia got hurt in May, and was never seen again after eventually deciding on knee surgery. Michael Pineda missed nearly four months because of back issues. And Masahiro Tanaka has been out since July because of a partial tear of the UCL ligament -- he's on the comeback trail, and hopes to return in mid-September. Even David Phelps is out for a few more weeks because of an arm injury.
But somehow, with the Yankees' offense putting up some of it's worth offensive numbers in years -- showing just as lame as last year's offense -- it's been that same fill-in pitching staff that has kept this team just 2.5 games out of a wild card spot with nearly five weeks left to go in the regular season.
As the Yankees go into Detroit tonight to open up a three-game series with the Tigers, who the Yankees took three of four games from in the bronx three weeks ago, they boast a 3.81 starters' ERA, good enough for 6th in the American League -- thats even better than the Tigers, who hold the last three AL Cy Young award winners in their rotation; the only teams with a better starters' ERA than the Yankees are all current playoff spot holders.
And like I mentioned, most of the work has been put in by fill-in starts. Guys like Brandon McCarthy, who has posted a 1.90 ERA with just seven walks in 52 innings in eight starts since joining the team in early July (probably the best of the trades that Brian Cashman has made this season). And Shane Greene, who looked good in his eight starts, going 3-1 with a 3.19 ERA. Chase Whitley had his moments at the beginning before falling apart, for the most part. Chris Capuano, too, and even Vidal Nuno had one decent start -- you'll have to do some research to find it, though.
The Yankees enter tonight's game on a five-game winning streak, their longest of the season. In those five games, their starter has not given up more than three runs in at least five innings of work. That streak, in all, goes to six games, and seven of their last eight.
It's one of those things that I'll never understand, really: how could the Yankees still be in the position to hunt for a playoff spot when their offense ranks 19th in Major League Baseball in run scored, and the pitching staff has seen 12 different players start a game for them this season?
I don't care how they're doing it, honestly, just as long as this trend continues.