The New York Yankees have stumbled to an 8-16 start, their worst through 24 games since 1991, and they sit in last place in the AL East.
What has gone wrong? A lot. They're failing to score, haven't hit in the clutch, and the elite bullpen hasn't mattered, because the starting pitching can't get them the ball.
This time last year, they looked like a much different team, averaging 4.8 runs per game with a 3.13 ERA. This season, they’re averaging 3.4 runs per game and have a 4.74 ERA. Let's go through the other numbers that illustrate their struggles.
The Yankees have scored 82 runs, tied with the Rays for fewest in the majors. They have the third-highest contact rate in the majors, but they also have the third-highest soft-contact rate (44 percent, based on video review).
The one batter who has hit the ball hard with consistency is Alex Rodriguez, but he’s gone unrewarded. He’s hitting .194 with a 22 percent hard-hit rate, and now he’s hurt, having injured his hamstring in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Orioles. The top of the order also has been problematic. The Yankees are getting a .286 on-base percentage out of the top spot in the batting order, second worst in the AL.
The Yankees are also not hitting in important spots. They’re batting a major-league worst .196 in the seventh through ninth innings, .201 with runners in scoring position (29th in the majors) and .223 when trailing (22nd in the majors).
Specifically, Chase Headley can't catch up with fastballs this season, hitting just .129 against heaters. It's the worst batting average in baseball among qualified hitters. Headley is the only regular starter in baseball who has yet to record an extra-base hit.
Didi Gregorius (.115) and Rodriguez (.118) have the fourth- and fifth-lowest average in baseball in the seventh inning or later.
The Yankees' nine games with a lead at any point after the sixth inning are the fewest in baseball. The starting rotation has fared poorly, with an AL-worst 5.13 ERA, and a .282 batting average that ranks 14th in the league.
Specifically, Michael Pineda has had all kinds of problems with his fastball. Opponents have a .455 batting average against the pitch. That’s the highest in baseball among pitchers who’ve ended at least 50 plate appearances with the pitch.
After the first time through the order, Luis Severino and Nathan Eovaldi are the two worst pitchers in the majors. Opponents are hitting .368 against Severino and .356 against Eovaldi after the first time through.
CC Sabathia has struggled with his off-speed stuff, allowing a .381 average against his off-speed offerings. That’s the second-highest rate in baseball among pitchers with at least four starts.
The shame of it is that the bullpen has been fantastic. They have a 1.35 ERA and average an MLB-best 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings when pitching with a lead after six innings.
The road ahead
If the Yankees are going to turn their season around, they’re going to have to get some wins against some tough teams. Each team has the ability to take advantage of an area the Yankees are struggling in.
The Orioles entered this series leading the AL in slugging percentage against starting pitchers (.499) and their pitchers ranked among the best in the league in opponents' batting average with runners in scoring position (.211).
The Red Sox, whom they’ll face next, lead the American League in batting average (.280), OPS (.785) and runs per game (5.42).
Then come the Royals and White Sox. The Royals have allowed the second-lowest hard-hit rate in the AL (12 percent). The White Sox lead the AL in ERA (2.59) and opponent OPS (.541) when holding a lead.
Paul Casella also contributed to this post.