The Bronx, NY: Ah, baseball season is finally here. It’s time to breakout the grill and the mankini. I’m pretty fired up for this year’s version of the New York Yankees, but I was fired up for the Giants and Rangers too. We know how that ended. Could it all go wrong from my beloved Yanks as well?
I was going to make a list of things that could go wrong for the Yanks, but outside of injuries, that list is one thing – the starting pitching.
It’s hard to think of a scenario in which the offense falters. Aaron Judge takes a step back. Giancarlo Stanton wilts under the big city lights. Yeah well, they still have Sanchez, Didi, and Bird. And with Hicks, Gardner, Drury, and Walker rounding out the lineup, there are no easy outs. They’re gonna score some runs.
If you want to split hairs, you can say the lineup is too righty dominant. And Greg Bird’s early foot problems don’t help there. Man, I’d like to see what that guy could do with 500 at bats. He was a tough out in the playoffs last year. And if he could run, we might be hoisting another banner, but that’s another story. Bird could do some serious damage in a full season at Yankee Stadium.
But “you just can’t predict baseball,” as John Sterling likes to say, ad freaking nauseum. Susan Waldman and Sterling have less chemistry than Jesse Pinkman in the pilot episode of Breaking Bad. That might be a recycled joke, but can we get rid of those two already? They make me want to listen to the games on mute.
If there’s one thing that can derail this team, it’s the starting five.
Luis Severino was dominant in 2017 and finished third in the AL Cy Young voting. But he threw the eighth most pitches in the majors, which was 24 percent more than the previous year. And that doesn’t count the post-season. And let’s not forget that he’s only one season removed from the 5.83 ERA he put up in 2016. Methinks he turned the corner, but if he regresses, it’s a big problem.
Masahiro Tanaka was giving up monster bombs for a good chunk of 2017. He got it together and was solid down the stretch and in the playoffs. Tanaka was never the prototypical ace, and he slots in nicely as the second banana. But the Yankees chances would take a big hit if he returned to his shell-able form of last season or if his elbow tendon finally gives up.
C.C. Sabathia was big in the playoffs last year, but the miles are adding up. That big frame puts a hurting on his gimpy landing knee. C.C. feels like a 5 inning pitcher these days, but last season’s stats tells another story.
His batting average against dropped from .259 to .216 from innings 1-3 to innings 4-6. From pitch 1-25, his BA against was .269, from 26-50 it was .250, and from 51-75 it went down to .207, then from 76-100 it went back up to .264. Most surprisingly, his BA against went down the more times he faces a hitter in a game. In the first time facing him, opponents hit .259. The second time it dropped .242, and the third time it dropped way down to .214.
The Yankees wanted a manager who was more of a believer in advanced analytics. If Aaron Boone holds true to the numbers, we should see C.C .in games longer than what seems prudent for his age and mileage. He is the glue and the Yanks had to bring him back. But a sharp decline is coming, it’s just a question of when.
Having Sonny Gray for a full season is a big reason expectations are high in the Bronx. If Sonny Gray is your 3rd or 4th starter, you’re doing alright. I think the only concern with him is durability. He throws a lot of funky pitches and has a small frame. He pitched over 200 innings in 2014 and 15, but hasn’t come close in the three seasons since.
Jordan Montgomery had a nice season last year and if he can improve some, the Yanks will be in great shape. He also threw about 16 more innings that he ever had before. I think pitchers are babied in today’s game, but I don’t have to answer for blown out elbows. The Yankees saved some luxury tax room for a trade deadline acquisition and Monty would probably be the odd man again out if the Yanks do bring someone on board.
The Yankees will basically return the same group they had in the playoffs last year. They have plenty of firepower with Chapman, Robertson, Betances, Kahnle, Chad Green, and Adam Warren. They could use another lefty and Betances is showing signs of carrying over the yips he caught at the end of last season. But with Robertson, Kahnle and Chad Green locked and loaded from day one, this has the look of an elite pen.
The Yankees will have a tough decision to make when Jacoby Ellsbury is ready to come off the DL. Right now, they’re carrying an extra infielder. I would guess that Tyler Wade will have to go down, which is unfortunate, as I thought he did enough to win the second base job, even with Walker on the roster. The only other option is to cut useful utility guy and Judge’s pet, Ronald Torreyes. I don’t think the Yankees will do that just yet. If Bird or Drury have to go on the DL, it could delay that decision.
Wade brings a speed element the team is lacking and I’d like to see him get an extended look. But Walker and Drury will be fine, and the Yankees don’t need them to be spectacular. Clint Frazier is another exciting player with no place to play when he comes off the DL.
The Rookie Skipper
Aaron Boone is a first time manager with no track record. The Yankees think he can handle it, we’ll but that’s why they play the games. Sterling is the worst. The capital from Boone’s Red Sox killing extra inning bomb off Wakefield will not last forever.
Let’s get it on. Come back tomorrow for the a guy with no holes in his game, Angry Ward. You can follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.