The New York Yankees have played nine games of their 162-game season. To put any kind of emphasis on trends so far would be pushing the short sample size mantra to a throbbing level. Can anything be gained from such an early look at how things are going? With ten players on the disabled list (take that!) and three series against teams headed for "also-ran" status, it would seem even more absurd to take any pulse thoughts at this early point. For the sake of an exercise (and because I felt like writing), let's take a look at the Yankees after six-percent of their season has been completed. Take it all with a grain of salt.
After watching Aaron Judge all spring, I really thought he would put up a better strikeout rate this season. I have been disappointed that he is striking out at prodigious rates and at 38%, his strikeout rate so far is the highest it has been since his 2016 cup of coffee season.
Gary Sanchez does appear to be back as an offensive force with a bat in his hands. After his pathetic showing of a year ago, that is welcome news. However, he does still have his penchant for driving fans crazy with bonehead plays. Getting picked off third with the bases loaded and no out is forgotten by a barrage of homers. But it was the second day in a row of getting picked off. The catcher looks better at blocking pitches behind the plate and is socking the ball. But, man, give us a week of smarts too please.
If you ignore his walk rate, Domingo German is doing a pretty good Luis Severino impression right now. The key will be how that translates to better clubs than the Tigers and Orioles.
For the first time ever, I do not seem to mind that Luis Cessa is on the roster. It feels weird.
I have a strong feeling that Aaron Hicks is the next Jacoby Ellsbury without the MVP season on his resume. The guy just cannot stay on the field. And after watching what a bad back did to Don Mattingly and David Wright, I am not optimistic at all.
Good or bad, Luke Voit is fun to watch. The guy is the "Everyman" on the Yankees who wears everything on his sleeve. I do hope he picks up the pace though!
Who would have thought the Boston Red Sox would have such a start after last season? And who would have thought that the Red Sox' rotation looks terrible and the bullpen looks great? But...:::pinch:::...it is only after the first three series of the season.
I predicted Gleyber Torres to have a great season and he is making me look good so far! Love that kid.
Thus far, the signs are pointing in favor of me falling in like with DJ LeMahieu. Gio Urshela is growing on me too.
How can you not smile for Clint Frazier? If Mike Tauchman starts another game, I might have to get an Aaron Boone voodoo doll. I'm just kidding! I would never wish harm or threaten harm on anyone! Whew! One has to be so careful about what is said these days.
The Yankees really need Dellin Betances. The bullpen is obviously one body short right now. Most of the bullpen regulars are getting the job done, but we are missing that guy to come in and blow people away. Plus, his absence forces Jonathan Holder to pitch multiple innings and he should be limited to one. I hope this late start doesn't mean no extension and walking papers for Betances after the season.
I cannot help it. A little part of me dies inside when Austin Romine starts a game. I cannot help it! I long for the Cervelli days...
Speaking of Jonathans, Jonathan Loaisiga is in the same mold as Severino and German, but cannot locate his fastball. If he could get a clue where it was going occasionally, he will be a terrific pitcher.
I have been thinking about Sonny Gray's complaint about being forced to throw sliders with the Yankees. I think he may have a point. Are there any Yankees pitchers that do not feature a slider? Tampa Bay for years preached the change up. The Yankees under Larry Rothschild, seem to preach the slider. Just something to keep an eye on.
I hope J A Happ's first two starts do not mean that he is an aging pitcher with his best years behind him. He has not looked great at all.
The first nine games have shown that Zack Britton is not yet all the way back from where he was. Maybe he'll never be that guy again. I think the Yankees are better off with him, but if he could put some command together, it would make the world of difference for the bullpen.
Speaking of bullpens, yes, it is early yet, but the Yankees' mercenary refusal to engage David Robertson looks like the right call so far. He was brilliant for the Yankees in 2017, but much less so last year. Chad Green looks like the new Robertson except that Green does not walk anybody.
As much as people love him, I still insist that Brett Gardner is over-the-hill now and should only be a reserve. The occasional walk and his long at bats are nice, but the reality is that both Greg Bird and Luke Voit have better OPS figures than Gardner. And those two are considered to be struggling! I would point out that Bird's current OPS is right where PECOTA pegged him to be.
I am not worried about James Paxton. He looks terrific.
The Yankees did not maximize their opportunity for a strong start against two bad teams to start the season. They need to hold their own against the Astros in Houston for three games and then have a great home stretch against good and bad teams before having to endure a West Coast swing. Nine games does not mean a whole lot. But currently sitting 5-4 feels a lot better than sitting 2-4 did. Onward!