By Brad Carroll
It's nearly impossible to be a New York Yankees fan right now. Time and time again, the Yankees have given their fans hope, only to crush it moments later. The Yankees did it twice in the last four games alone. Friday, Chris Young homered in the 11th inning to take a 1-0 lead, only to have Adam Warren blow the save and game in the bottom half. Sunday night, Brian McCann homered for a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning, only to have David Robertson blow the save and game a half-inning later.
The Yankees amazingly are still just five games out of the final wild card spot, as seemingly nobody wants to go to the postseason this year from the American League. But realistically, five games will be nearly impossible for the Yankees to make up over the final 16 games of the season.
Here is a look at the players who are trending up this season, yes there are some, and those who are going in the opposite direction and taking the Yankees playoff hopes along with them, with our 3 Up and 3 Down list.
Masahiro Tanaka: The rookie ace thew five scoreless innings in a simulated game Monday against minor leaguers, the latest and most encouraging sign he can return to the big league club this season. Tanaka is trying to come back from a small ligament tear in his right elbow, which has him on the disabled list for the past two months. After throwing 65 pitches Monday, allowing six hits and striking out four, Tanaka could next pitch for the Yankees. Something more concrete will be known Tuesday, when Tanaka sees how he feels after the outing. Of course, having Tanaka back with the Yankees would have been bigger news if the team was near a playoff spot. But any good news involving Tanaka is great news for the Yankees and their fans.
Dellin Betances: He equaled Mariano Rivera's franchise record for most strikeouts by a relief pitcher Sunday night. Betances struck out two in an inning of work against Baltimore to raise his season total to 130. Rivera struck out 130 back in 1996. The most impressive part of the record is Betances reached his total in 86.2 innings. Rivera, the greatest reliever of all time, reached 130 strikeouts in 107.2 innings. Betances has been a revelation in the bullpen and should be in the conversation to become the team's closer next season.
Chris Young: He's been the only player on the roster who has shown a pulse, going 10-for-26 (.385) with six runs scored, four doubles, three home runs and eight RBI this past week. He had at least one hit in six of the seven games, and in the one he didn't get a hit, he walked twice. It's too bad the rest of the high-priced Yankees hitters haven't taken his lead.
Derek Jeter: Alright, we give in, Jeter is actually hurting the Yankees now with how bad he's hitting at the plate. It doesn't necessarily mean he should be benched for good, but Jeter is a sure out right now. Jeter is in an 0-for-24 slump, with his last hit coming on Sept. 7. He's also only gotten on base once in his last six games, a walk. Brendan Ryan is starting for Jeter Monday night at shortstop. It's been a horrible end to a wonderful, Hall of Fame career for the Yankees captain. Obviously, this slump in no way changes the fact Jeter should be a first-ballot, unanimous Hall of Fame selection.
David Robertson: The Yankees closer chose the worst possible time to have a meltdown on the mound, as he gave up three doubles in four at-bats in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Orioles Sunday night, blowing the save and taking the loss. The outing came a half-inning after Brian McCann homered to give the Yankees the lead in a must-win game. Just like that the Yankees went from being four games back of the second wild card to five back, a huge difference at this point.
Adam Warren: Just like Robertson did Sunday, Warren blew the save and game Friday afternoon in the first game of a doubleheader against the Orioles. After Chris Young homered to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the top of the 11th inning, Warren got just one out before allowing a two-run double with the bases loaded to lose a game the Yankees had to have.
Dishonorable Mentions: Chris Capuano got just one out in his start against Tampa Bay last week, allowing four runs on four hits in a loss. Mark Teixeira went 2-for-21, Jacoby Ellsbury went 4-for-29 and Stephen Drew went 3-for-21 this week.