Very much so. Very much so, indeed.
Ten wins in eleven chances since the All-Star Break. First place in the AL East. Best record in the American League. One game behind the Dodgers for best record in baseball. A decisive win against our division rivals last night, and two of our best pitchers lined up to throw the next two. Smile, Yankee Universe. Time for the player by player.
C.C. Sabathia: After a rough start, the Fat Man is living up to his billing as a top tier arm. He hasn't quite justified the money spent, but he's well on the way. Along with his ten wins and improving ERA (down to 3.67), he's eating up innings in typical fashion. Even on a bad day, you're not likely to see CC leave before the 7th; it's only happened four times in twenty-one games. After a mediocre June, he's won three of his last four starts.
A.J. Burnett: Quality starter, maybe the team's best. His ERA is the lowest on the rotation at 3.53, he's won five of his last six starts (the team is 6-0), and aside from occasional control problems, he's excelled at getting out of jams. Currently, he's 8th in the AL in strikeouts. This was money well-spent. The only concern now is a history of injuries that tend to surface around his current innings-pitched mark. We can't afford to lose A.J.
Joba Chamberlain: Improving. Despite the raging debate about sending him back to the bullpen, and the impending innings-limit controversy (they don't want him to throw more than 150 innings this year, a cap that might keep him out of the rotation for the playoffs), and the problematic inconsistency, the numbers are fairly solid. 6-2, 3.86 ERA, 92 strikeouts to 48 walks. In his last two starts, he's been terrific, lasting into the 7th each time, giving up just one earned run, and getting the win. However, he hasn't put three solid starts together all year, so there's something to prove when he takes on Tampa Bay Wednesday. The outlook on Joba can veer from 'potential ace' to 'unreliable fourth starter' in a blink, so the jury's still sequestered. But recent signs are positive.
Andy Pettitte: A workhorse, to his credit, but no more than a slightly above-average fourth starter at this point in his career. He has a history of improving in the second half, but you can't expect this year's surge to be anything more than marginal. He's a serviceable arm who will occasionally have to leave the game in the third or fourth inning. Nothing more, nothing less...expect to see him in a bullpen role when the playoffs come around.
Sergio Mitre/Alfred Aceves: Not fifth starters quite yet. Expect Washburn to come over from Seattle to give our rotation a boost. Still, with Joba approaching his innings limit, one of these two guys might have an extended chance to show something. I'm not holding my breath.
Chien-Ming Wang: Just like last year, recovery is painfully slow. I'm not expecting a return in time to make any impact. Maybe a spot start in September, but that's it.
Mariano Rivera: Still the king. How he does it is beyond me. The man is 39. But he's got 29 saves with only one blown chance, a 2.11 ERA (lowest on the staff except for Nick Swisher), opponents are batting under .200 against him, he averages a strikeout per inning, and his WHIP is 0.82. It's easy to take Mariano for granted, but, if you're a Yankee fan, don't. The greatest reliever of all time is still great.
Phil Hughes: Working on a record scoreless innings streak. He's been a dynamo out of the pen, a season saver, and you can point to his success as a prime reason why the Yanks have shot into first place. The 8th inning is currently on lockdown, and Hughes has been so nasty that it's almost inconceivable he'll return to the starting rotation this season. Don't mess with a good thing.
Alfredo Aceves: Fantastic. Before a small meltdown in last week's Oakland game, you couldn't find any fault. His ERA is 2.89, his WHIP is an excellent 1.01, and he's usually solid in the pressure moments. His success has made him Girardi's third option in the pen, which, like Hughes, makes him unlikely to stray into a starter's role.
Phil Coke: Lefty specialist with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. Lefties bat .190 against him, with a .209 OBP. His strikeout to walk ratio is a very strong 7.67. Against righties, meanwhile, he hasn't been terrible, so he's also a viable option for a full inning. But as the season wears on pressure situations mount, expect to see him primarily against fellow southpaws. He's a perfect fit for this bullpen.
Brian Bruney: Girardi made a brilliant move Sunday to give Bruney a key out in the 8th inning against the As. Before his injury, he was a fireballer who owned the 8th. Since then, he's been shaky at best, and Hughes supplanted him in the set-up role. But nobody's given up on him, least of all Girardi, and he could still be an important piece in the postseason relief puzzle.
David Robertson: Long relief in blow-outs. No more, no less until proven otherwise, and he's not proving otherwise.
Melancon/Ramirez/Marte: No thanks.
Jonathan Albaladejo: See you in Scranton!