The Yankees were a completely different team by this time last year, and their pitching has been the biggest improvement.
That’s not to lessen the emergence of Aaron Judge and the hot starts of Starlin Castro, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez at all. The offensive success of the Yankees is clearly a large part of their 25-16 record, but they wouldn’t even be sniffing a record like that without their pitching.
During last season’s first half, the Yankees’ pitching had a team ERA that ranked 20th in the MLB. They rank eighth in that same category so far this season. They’re also ranked in the top 10 in strikeouts and WHIP.
Their bullpen this year has been even more phenomenal. They rank third in ERA and WHIP, have the fourth lowest batting average against, and are tied for the eighth most strikeouts. Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances are big reasons for the bullpens’ good start, but the Yanks have also gotten great work out of Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve and Jonathan Holden. The improved supporting cast has made a huge difference.
It seems that the bullpen can continue to pitch well, but the starting rotation is less likely to do so.
Masahiro Tanaka has gotten off to a rough start. He hasn’t been able to make it past the third inning in both of his last two starts, and hasn’t gone past the fifth inning in four of his first nine starts. C.C. Sabathia has been inconsistent and turns 37 in July and while Luis Severino has been decent, he needs a larger sample size before he can be counted on to contribute.
So short answer as to whether the Yankees can sustain their early pitching dominance: probably not. However, that is with their current roster. Adding another starting pitcher sometime this year would help, but unless they’re still atop the AL East by the trade deadline, I wouldn’t expect them to make a significant move.
As exciting as this early success is for Yankee fans, keep in mind it’s still VERY early [just look at the AL & NL Central]. Brian Cashman and Co. will likely be hesitant to make any drastic moves knowing that the young talent they’ve acquired the last few years have yet to even all play together.