New York Yankees Biggest Strength Has Been Their Ultimate Downfall
Jun 7, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) argues a call with the umpired between the sixth and seventh innings against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees dismal seven-game losing streak has been hard to watch, but what makes it even worse is that it has come at the hands of one of the best bullpens in baseball. 

If you have watched New York Yankees baseball over the last week and a day, you already know it hasn’t been delightful.

After falling to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Tuesday night, the Bombers lost their seventh-straight game — good enough for the team’s longest single-season losing skid since another seven-game losing streak from April 20 to April 27 of 2007.

At the forefront of this losing streak has been the bullpen, which has been the primary reason why the Yankees have fallen from four games up on the Boston Red Sox to a half game under in the ever-so-tight American League East race.

Over the last seven days, New York’s bullpen ERA of 6.52 sits as the fourth-worst in Major League Baseball while their four losses are also the most in that span. It’s tough to have a stretch like this, especially considering the ‘pen has a dynamic duo in Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman in the back-end.

“We’re going through a tough time right now,” manager Joe Girardi said in his postgame press conference. “”We’ll get it ironed out. These guys have had too much success for this to continue, but right now it’s a struggle. We have to get [Tyler Clippard] right.”

Clippard, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Vicente Campos at last year’s trade deadline, has been at the forefront of those struggles. The righty took the loss on Tuesday after surrendering three runs on three hits and a home run and hasn’t looked like the reliever that posted a 2.49 ERA in his stint with New York in 2016.

Over his last five games, Clippard has surrendered multiple base runners in four of them while posting a 12.27 ERA (3.2IP, 6H, 5ER, 3BB, 3K, 2HR) in that same span. It’s not only the “Yankee-Clippard” that’s floundering over the last week, as Betances, Chapman and Domingo German are the only relievers to not surrender an earned run.

Five of the nine Yankee relievers to make at least one appearance have posted an ERA of 6.75 or greater to help give the Yankees’ bullpen an abysmal win probability added (WPA) of -2.13.

It’s relatively cut and dry: the Yankees’ bullpen leading up to the back-end tandem has to be better. The bridge from the starting pitchers to Betances/Chapman is arguably the most important factor in the team’s success. It’s what made No-Runs DMC a non-factor a year ago and it has taken center stage in this seven-game skid.

The upcoming schedule and venue give them a prime opportunity to right the ship. Before Tuesday’s loss, the Yankees were 22-9 in the Bronx with a mountainous 83-plus run differential. Home field advantage is for real and the Angels and Texas Rangers are due to come in town in a homestand that gives the Yankees a chance to re-take their divisional lead.

But, it starts with getting the middle innings on lockdown. The offense has his 112 home runs in 68 games — the third-highest 68-game total in Major League history — and the rotation’s 6.3 WAR is the seventh-best in baseball. In order to prevent a panic, the team has to start firing on all cylinders.