If you've been keeping track of the New York Yankees the past couple of weeks, you could argue that this is baseball's best team. No offense is deeper, no bullpen better. As for the rotation, that could also be good enough.Add all those things up, and you have the makings
If you've been keeping track of the New York Yankees the past couple of weeks, you could argue that this is baseball's best team. No offense is deeper, no bullpen better. As for the rotation, that could also be good enough.
Add all those things up, and you have the makings of an impressive team. On the other hand, we are constantly warned against making large assumptions based on small samples. In this case, that's what we're doing.
Two weeks ago, the Yankees were 7 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East at 9-9. Those Yanks were far from great. Meanwhile, the Red Sox were, flying out of the gate at 17-2.
Here's what has happened since: The Yankees have become precisely the team a lot of us thought they would be.
They've won 12 of 13, beginning April 21 with a nine-game winning streak before a Monday night loss to the Astros. They shook that one off and won the next three at Minute Maid Park, where they were 0-4 in last season's AL Championship Series.
At one point, the Yankees held the Astros scoreless for 28 consecutive innings. Houston broke that streak with four runs in the bottom of the seventh on Thursday afternoon and took a two-run lead into the ninth. But Aaron Boone's Yanks won again, rallying for three runs and a 6-5 victory.
So they return to Yankee Stadium on Friday for a nine-game homestand against the Indians, Red Sox and A's. While the Yankees have knocked 6 1/2 games off the Red Sox's lead, Boston (22-9) leads the AL East by one game after losing to the Rangers on Thursday night in Arlington.
On Opening Day, we thought this might be one of those classic Red Sox-Yankees heavyweight fights featuring the two best baseball teams on the planet. Nothing has happened to change anyone's mind about that. Even better, the Blue Jays and Rays are both playing well.
OK, back to the Yankees and the case that they're baseball's best team. There's a rock-solid case to be made for both the Red Sox and D-backs. At this point, neither is more solid than New York.
Here are five reasons why:
1. This is a complete team
Their offense and bullpen are arguably baseball's best. Their rotation is plenty good enough with Luis Severino, Carsten Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka leading the way. During the 12-1 stretch, the Yankees' rotation is 7-1 with a 2.09 ERA. Boston's front three of Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello is better, but the Yanks are arguably stronger in other areas.
2. The bullpen is scary good
Yankees relievers have a 0.91 ERA during this hot streak, and the back three -- Dellin Betances, Player Page for David Robertson and Albertin Chapman -- have been stellar: 14 innings, zero earned runs, seven hits, five walks, 24 strikeouts. To trail the Yanks in the sixth inning or later is to face a steep challenge.
3. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge? What about Didi Gregorius?
The Yankees shortstop won the AL Player of the Month Award for March/April. He's at the center of an offense that has averaged more than six runs a game during the stretch and has been at or near the top of baseball the entire season. Oh, and Judge's predicted regression has not happened, and Stanton has gotten hot as well. And the kids, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, are pretty good, too.
4. Now about that rotation
If Sabathia stays healthy, the Yankees probably can match up with almost anyone. Lefty Jordan Montgomery's elbow injury is a significant issue as 25-year-old right-hander Domingo German prepares to take his place in the rotation. There are a ton of big arms in the Minors, most notably lefty Justus Sheffield, who is MLB Pipeline's No. 46 prospect.
5. General manager Brian Cashman has built a deep organization
That means that if the Yankees go looking for rotation help in July, they probably could not be in a better position to make a trade. Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer is believed to be on the Yanks' radar.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.