Mr. Burns: “Smithers, there’s no way I can lose this bet. Not unless, of course, my nine All-Stars fall victim to nine separate misfortunes and are unable to play tomorrow. But that will never happen. Three misfortunes? That’s possible. Seven misfortunes, there’s an outside chance. But NINE misfortunes! I’d like to see that!
So, here’s the good news. It’s even in its own section with bold capital letters.
- You won 100 games last season
- You’re projected to win close to that again this season
- Your team is extremely well-constructed and particularly built for October
But of course….
- That was all true last year, and it wasn’t enough
- It might not be enough this year either
The Boston Red Sox, of course, won an unthinkable 108 games last year, sending the Yankees to a potential one-and-done game as a reward for their enviable century mark in the regular season. New York won that contest, but the Red Sox finished them off in the ALCS. In the AL East, 100 wins ain’t what it used to be. Further complicating matters is the litany of injuries the Yankees have had to deal with. They’re currently without…
- 3B Miguel Andujar
- OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton
- RP Dellin Betances
- CF Aaron Hicks
- OF Jacoby Ellsbury
- SS Didi Gregorius
- SP Luis Severino
- SP CC Sabathia
- SP Jordan Montgomery
- SS Troy Tulowitzki
Sabathia will return to start the Saturday game, but still, that’s a pretty darn good start to a roster right there. If you sprinkle in a few role players around just the guys on the Yankees’ IL, you’d probably have a team that could run away with the AL Central. Because this is the Yankees, though, there’s still plenty of useful guys healthy and ready to help the team win games. Chief among them is Aaron Judge, who’s going to be tasked with shouldering a heavy load for awhile. Judge should be up to the task, though one should note that his bat calmed down in 2018 after exploding to put him in the best-player-in-the-game conversation during 2017. Still, even though there was a real decline in the numbers, we’re talking about falling from second in the league in wOBA to like, ninth.
Elsewhere, Luke Voit stands out as a severely dangerous bat around Judge in the lineup. After coming over from the Cardinals last season, Voit erupted for a 1.049 OPS down the stretch, as he hit a homer about once every ten at-bats and claimed a starting job in the postseason. A big breakout from a random 27-year-old probably seemed like a luxury at the time, but New York is going to be counting on him quite a bit. Also interesting is 22-year-old Gleyber Torres, who’s fresh off of a .270/.340/.480 campaign as a 21-year-old and has been tearing the cover off of the ball this year. Indeed, there’s no shortage of guys stepping up to fill holes.
DJ LeMahieu was an excellent signing by the Yankees, and the 30-year-old contact hitter is flirting with a .400 average. Stanton’s replacement, Clint Frazier, has been similarly hot at the plate, and has shaken off the trade rumors to post some gaudy numbers in the early going. Even Gary Sanchez, who floundered to the tune of a .186 average in 2018, has been providing the thunder, as he already has a three-homer game to his credit to remind everyone why there was so much hype surrounding him before last year.
Of course, the Yankees don’t have a sterling record quite yet, so not everything has been completely rosy. Brett Gardner‘s decline seems to be real at this point, and whatever defense his 35-year-old body can contribute is going to have to prop up a sagging bat. First baseman Greg Bird has given the Bombers a fat lot of nothing, consistent with the past two years. He’s likely an easy squeeze from the lineup upon Stanton’s return. Still, many of the Yankees’ issues are short-term in nature, and there’s enough firepower around these relative holes to keep the offense firing on all cylinders.
With Severino on the shelf, lefty James Paxton looks like the most ace-like thing in the Yankees’ active rotation. A hard thrower, Paxton slings mostly fastballs, but hitters have a serious problem picking up his cutter, as it generates whiffs as often as a good slider does. Masahiro Tanaka isn’t the ace he once was, but a down season in 2017 has caused many to underrate him; the control artist is still a very effective pitcher that flirts with number-two starter production. Lefty J.A. Happ has struggled out of the gate this year, but the 36-year-old has come very close to 3.0 fWAR each of the last four seasons, and as long as he can continue to miss bats at a reasonably high level, he’ll at least be a cromulent mid-rotation starter.
Sabathia’s return pushed Jonathan Loaisiga back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with Domingo German winning the fifth-starter job for now. They’re cut from a similar cloth, but German is more curveball-heavy, whereas Loaisiga uses the slider as an out pitch. The Yankees have had two pitchers with big upside filling in for their more proven starters, and it’s an embarrassment of riches. With an effective rotation and a lights-out relief corps, expect the Yankees’ early struggles to be short-lived.
* * * * * * * * *
Despite the fact that the Yankees have already endured
nine ten separate misfortunes, they still have all the firepower they need to be a force in the AL East. Consistent with the American League’s theme of polarization, the rich have gotten richer, and while New York isn’t bludgeoning the world with massive free agent signings, they’re able to use their depth to great effect and weather the storm of injuries that have plagued their roster. There was a time when it was fun to hate the Yankees and their litany of high-priced stars that repeatedly had their moments in the sun. However, the collection of exciting young players that the Bronx Bombers have assembled make it hard to maintain the vitriol. We’re not sick of this core…yet.
Probable Starting Pitchers
- Friday, April 12: Lucas Giolito vs. J.A. Happ
- Saturday, April 13: Ivan Nova vs. CC Sabathia
- Sunday, April 14: Carlos Rodon vs. Domingo German
- Brett Gardner – CF
- Aaron Judge – RF
- Luke Voit – DH
- Gary Sanchez – C
- Gleyber Torres – SS
- Greg Bird – 1B
- D.J. LeMahieu – 2B
- Clint Frazier – LF
- Gio Urshela – 3B
- SP1: James Paxton – LHP
- SP2: Masahiro Tanaka – RHP
- SP3: J.A. Happ – LHP
- SP4: CC Sabathia – LHP
- SP5: Domingo German – RHP
- CL: Aroldis Chapman – RHP
- RP1: Adam Ottavino – RHP
- RP2: Chad Green – RHP
- RP3: Jonathan Holder – RHP
- RP4: Joe Harvey – RHP
Good preview, Pnoles. It is spot on that this is a fun Yankees team to watch. There are some likable players on that roster.
As an aside, it’s almost as if spending money on the roster AND spending money on the analytics department helps contribute towards a very competitive product: one that can absorb all these injuries and still be good.
And another one:
Ynakees are going to murder us
We deserve it
They’ll have to get in line behind the front office.
What the Sox and the Yankees have in common is that both could place ten players from their 25-man roster on the IL and not suffer a significant drop-off in quality.
Depends. If among those 10 players are TA, EJ, and YM, then the White Sox will drop-off in quality significantly
However, the record would still likely be the same.
An aside, I’m going to see Yankees v. Boston in London. I was dreading the matchup when I bought the tickets but after seeing Boston in Oakland and watching the Yankees, I’m really looking forward to the matchup of good, quality baseball by a couple of fun teams.
And that is something I never thought I would say.
I think the Sox pull one out by a score of 10-9 or 13-11.
why stop there? I’m hoping for a silly 16-13 type score. Blow out both the bullpens on the first night.
I feel bad for the Yanks with all their misfortune….
Another aside, and Troopers please don’t hate me for this. But I just read on mlb.com about Armed Forces Day. Um, with Memorial Day and Veterans Day, don’t we already have this covered ? This strikes me as propaganda.
Well, Memorial Day and Veterans Day are very specific categories.
It should really be a choice between Armed Forces Day and the Hero of the Game.
Speak for yourself, Pnoles.
By the way, my auto-correct changes your nickname to “ponies” every time. Just though you’d like to know.
as it turns out, he has a dozen pony statues on the top of his dresser.
WHO TOLD YOU
If you call me “ponies” I promise not to take offense
A little note about that episode of the Simpsons: Conseco didn’t understand the joke of his scene where his character would keep running in for less important stuff. The writers had to explain it to him and he never ended up thinking it was funny.