Luis Severino pitched 4 shutout, 1-hit innings on Saturday (3 strikeouts) in his 3rd start of Spring training and it put the entire upcoming Yankee season in a new, more-optimistic light. He had been bombed in his previous two starts, but after each said not to worry — the important thing was he felt great — healthy — and he was only concerned with results toward the end of Spring training.
And here it is — the end of Spring training — the Yankee season starts in 4 days on Thursday — and Severino looked lights out.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 2, 2022
Yanks’ Starting Pitching Staff
Yankee management clearly has faith in Severino returning to form — as they did not resign Corey Kluber or go get another top-line starter to replace him as the projected #2 man in the Yankee rotation. NY management may also feel that in worst case, Nestor Cortes Jr can step into the #2 role.
Nestor Cortes, Messing with Timing.
[You can't hit if you're laughing 😏] pic.twitter.com/iOXtUwTi2u
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 3, 2022
And with Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, Luis Gil, and Michael King in the fold the Yanks look to have a very solid and deep rotation. Like they did last year when they had one of the best starting staffs in the American League, statistically.
Not to mention Deivi Garcia has looked good in the Spring!
Gerrit Cole is coming off a horrible season when he led the American League in Wins and finished 2nd in Cy Young voting. He went 16-8 3.23 — but the disappointment by Yankee fans was that he wasn’t as filthy lights-out after the Sticky Stuff ban that went into effect June 18, 2021 — although he had some filthy, lights-out starts after that date. And then he bombed in the 1-game playoff against Boston — 2 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs — so that left a disappointing taste in Yankee Twitter minds.
Still a rotation of Cole, Severino, Cortes, Taillon, Montgomery — with Gil and King as the 6th and 7th starters seems very good.
The Skinny on the Yankee Starters:
- If Severino is back for real — the Yankees could have a Very good staff.
- There is still an air of worry about Cole, after the poor playoff performance and good-not-spectacular pitching after the sticky stuff ban. Cole has been hit in the Spring — he has a 6.75 ERA after 5.1 innings. It is just Spring Training… but this furthers the worries.
- Cortes looks like he will rival Cole and Severino as ace of staff. He has a 0.00 ERA after 4 innings in Spring Training to boot. No worries there.
- Big fan of Monty — reminds me of Pettitte — a big 6’5 lefty from the system who came up with little fanfare and surprised — but Pettitte went to another level in year 2; Monty still needs to go to another level. He needs to reduce the pitches he throws so he can last into the 6th and 7th more often in a game. Monty also has been hit in the Spring — sporting a 7.36 ERA after 3.2 innings. It is only Spring Training…
- Big fan of Michael King — he could be a dark horse. Do not mind when the Yanks turn to him during injuries. King has a 6.43 ERA thru 7 innings in Spring Training.
- Gil looked Great last year. He’ll be pressing for a starting spot. And Deivi Garcia looked good in the Spring
- Yanks are loaded here — have not even mentioned Taillon until now — and he looked better and better last year.
- There are always injuries to starters however — but the Yanks seem to have ample depth.
The Yankee bullpen should be a strong suit of the team again too. Aroldis Chapman is another year older, and really bottomed last July resulting in so many blown saves — but he started the year lights’ out (before the sticky stuff ban) — and more importantly ended the year lights’ out.
And Jonathan Loaisiga stepped up to be an alternate closer last year, joining Chad Green as a late-inning regular. The mid-season acquisitions of Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, Joely Rodriguez*, and Lucas Luetge made the Yanks pen that much stronger.
NY also has some great young arms coming up through the system: Ron Marinaccio for one — who also strikes out most people he faces — lefty JP Sears, and Clarke Schmidt all made the roster out of Spring training. Schmidt won the Yankees’ James P. Dawson Rookie of Spring Training award.
Manny Banuelos — one of the 3 former Yankee “Killer B’s” — joined the Yanks in Spring training and was the surprise of March — pitching 6 shutout, 1-hit innings before allowing 3 runs in his last and final appearance of Spring training on April 3rd.
Zack Britton is still out recovering from surgery, and is expected back mid season. And bad news for the Yanks as the season was poised to start as electric young arm Stephen Ridings with his 100-MPH heat was put on the 60-day DL with right shoulder impingement.
The Skinny on the Yankee Bullpen
- The bullpen is Loaded again.
- Looking forward to seeing what Marinaccio can do. He has looked good in the Spring, striking out many.
- Looking forward to see if former “Killer B” Manny Banuelos can make the team and do well.
- Disappointed with the injury to Stephen Ridings. He looked phenomenal last year before getting injured. Remember last Spring when the Yanks had so much hope in Nick Nelson? Ridings seems better. Hopefully he’ll come back strong mid season.
The Yankees finally gave up on Gary Sanchez, sending him to Minnesota for elite defensive shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and 36-year-old 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson. The Yankees acquired Ben Rortvedt — considered a good defensive catcher with a plucky lefty bat, and at the end of Spring training, acquired Jose Trevino from Texas — another good defensive catcher who hit 5-30-.239 (.276 OBP) in 300 plate appearances for the Rangers last year.
Those two catchers join Kyle Higashioka to form a 3-man catching rotation. All three are considered good defenders, and amongst the best “framers” in baseball — a new statcast stat of how well a catcher can fool the umpire by catching a pitch and slightly moving it so it looks like a strike.
The Yanks seem to have picked up Trevino because Rortvedt is currently injured with a slight oblique pull, and missed most of Spring training — so will not be fully ready for the start of the season. But Trevino obviously will be vying for significant playing time this year.
And Higgy has been a hitting star this Spring — popping homers out at a Gary Sanchez pace. Higgy has 7 homers and a .478 batting average in 23 at bats thus far. Higgy hit 10-29-181 (.246 OBP) last year in 193 at bats — so the pop has been there. The question is what will his batting average be over the course of a long season.
Alright, we get it. pic.twitter.com/3wLOOQ01GG
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 2, 2022
The Skinny on the Yankee Catchers
- Looking forward to great defense behind the plate and plucky bats from Yankee catchers this year.
- The last significant time when the Yanks traded a good offensive catcher and replaced him with a good defensive catcher was entering the 1996 season when NY traded Mike Stanley and traded for Joe Girardi — and the result was a Yankee pitching staff that operated on full cylinders and a World Series title. We’ll see.
The Yankees significantly improved the defense of their infield during the off season — adding Kiner-Falefa at shortstop, Josh Donaldson at 3rd (although they traded a great defender in Gio Urshela), and resigning Anthony Rizzo for 1st base.
Who’s On 2nd?
Who’s on 1st base. Gleyber Torres is slated for 2nd base — and has hit well in the Spring — sporting a 2-4-.333 in 24 at bats at this writing.
The dilemma is — where does DJ LeMahieu play?
Manager Aaron Boone has answered that question by saying “everywhere” — meaning DJ will probably play 1st, 2nd, and 3rd — spotting the guys at those positions.
At the end of the year, GM Brian Cashman said there were a number of “head scratching” developments in 2021. One had to be the odd play of Clint Frazier, who got hit on the leg with a pitch in August and stayed out the rest of the season with concussion protocol. It seemed he was getting nervous of getting pitched inside due to his previous concussion of the year before.
Another “head scratching” development had to be DJ LeMahieu batting 100 points less than the previous season, after signing a big contract extension. DJ hit 10-57-.268 (.349 OBP) after winning the batting title in 2020 with a .364 average. He’ll be 33 years old this year, and his $15 Million a year contract extends out thru 2026 when he’ll be 37 years old.
DJ at age 33 has reached an age where a middle infielder’s range typically reduces a bit, so it makes sense that he is the ultimate reserve for NY. And if he has a comeback season, and ignites the top of the Yankee order — he’ll no doubt play regularly.
Josh Donaldson has always been a good defender at 3rd — so the loss of Urshela’s defense should be mitigated. And Donaldson has a power bat — not only homers but his OBP was .352 last year to Urshela’s OBP has always been low — last year .301 despite a .267 average. Donaldson will be 36 this year — and has recently shown he still has a lot left in the tank.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 29, 2022
Marwin Gonzalez has been a surprise for the Yanks in Spring Training — hitting homers left and right. Gonzalez was a Spring Training invitee — formerly of the Houston Astro team that cheated in the 2017 playoffs.
The Skinny on the Yankee Infield
- They should have Great defense and good hitting production.
- Will be interesting to see how Gleyber Torres does — offensively and defensively.
- Will be interesting to see if Kiner-Falefa hits over .250 — if he does, Yanks will be in good shape.
- Will be interesting to see where LeMahieu plays, and if he has a big comeback year.
- All Yankee Twitter eyes will be on the play of Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza in the minors. Volpe comes into the year as the #8 prospect in all of baseball, and should be at AA this year. Peraza is ranked #60, and will start the year in AAA with the expectation that he will join the big club in August.
- Yankee Twitter will also be keeping an eye on Oswald Cabrera — who had a live power bat in the Spring. He had that bat in A ball last year and could be a guy who surprises everyone and leaps up past the big name prospects.
It is starting to look like Brett Gardner is not going to be here anymore. He hasn’t signed with anyone yet, and there are 4 days left in Spring Training. Instead, the Yankees resigned elite outfield defender Tim LoCastro during the off season. At the end of Spring training NY sent LoCastro to AAA where he will reside ready for callup if there is an injury to centerfielder to Aaron Hicks.
Miguel Andujar is still on the team and was on the active roster listed as an outfielder until the day before Spring training ended — when he was placed in AAA with LoCastro. There were rumors during the off season that Andujar was on the trade block. But it looks now like the Yanks are keeping him in the organization, in mind for another shot. He’s always had an aggressive bat — which becomes key in the playoffs when umps start calling everything close a strike to facilitate 2.5-hour games in frigid late-October night baseball. Because of this, a team needs a certain number of first-ball-hitting hitters for post-season baseball. And Andujar fits that bill. He looked pretty good in left defensively last season, so that is a plus.
The other significant outfield news for the Yankees is that Cashman has announced that Aaron Judge will be given a big contract extension offer before the season starts. Judge has said he wants to remain a Yankee for life — so Yankee Twitter has been predicting the day this extension is offered, and hopefully, is good enough to be accepted. One day left ’til opening day.
All Rise. pic.twitter.com/DRQxRpxJPF
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 2, 2022
The other Yankee outfield is of course Joey Gallo in left — a gold glover and monster home hitter, but a guy who hits .200 and strikes out a ton. He batted .160 for the Yanks in 188 at bats last year. Yankee Twitter loves him now — but we’ll see if he remains a fan favorite during the long season with that kind of average.
The Skinny on the Yankee Outfield
- A big year for Judge — if he stays healthy and puts up big numbers again, he turns the corner and sets up a runway for being one of the great Yankees ever. Should’ve won MVP in 2017.
- Will be interesting to see how Hicks does — many on Yankee Twitter are expecting a surprise big year from him. Will be interesting to see if he has improved his arm strength now 2 years after the surgery that turned his once strong arm into a weak arm.
- Will Brett Gardner be signed at some point during the season after an injury?
- Can Gallo keep his average over .200?
- Would love to see Andujar have a comeback year and play in the playoffs. Typically manager Aaron Boone has not even put him on post-season roster, which seems a mistake.
- Yankee Twitter will also be keeping an eye on Estevan Florial — he is still only 24 years old. He owns a lifetime .300 average (.440 OBP) in the big leagues in 25 plate appearances, and can run with the wind in center.
- The Yanks invited Ender Inciarte to Spring Training — he of the 3 straight Gold Gloves in Centerfield between 2016 and 2018 for the Atlanta Braves — and twice batted over .300 in full seasons in Atlanta and Arizona. He will be 31 this year and batted .217 last year. He did not make the roster out of Spring Training — being sent down at the end to AAA. He will probably stick around for the Yanks in AAA, ready for a callup in case of injury, along with LoCastro and Andujar.
The Yankees radio call was juuuuuuuust a bit off on this one pic.twitter.com/IdSTbYUH7N
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 6, 2021
Unfortunately the Green Monster knocked 2 of his rockets down — one resulting in an out at the plate.
But Stanton and Judge were both healthy last year for the first time and it was fun to watch.
- Stanton: 35-97-.273 (.354 OPB)
- Judge: 39-98-.287 (.373 OBP)
Considering the ultra low batting average in MLB last year — those were Great numbers. Judge finished 18th in the American League in batting. During the steroid era, and/or non-statcast-fueled-computer-aided-shift eras, those would be .300 to .320 averages.
The Yankees of 2021, according to GM Brian Cashman, were “Jeckyl and Hyde; at times looked unstoppable; but many other times unwatchable, because of the streakiness and lack of consistency.” He added, “There were certain things that really were head scratching, and frustrating. There were some areas of weakness that popped up in lot of categories that did not exist prior to this year. We have to determine whether those are Systemic or aberrations.” Cashman added the Yankees would go to the free agent marketplace and/or the trade market to reconfigure the team in certain categories.
Cashman admitted it was “his toughest year” — in both results and trying to understand what went wrong.
Brian Cashman: We will be open-minded to anything and everything on this roster as we should be. pic.twitter.com/KL5nIzPMMr
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) October 19, 2021
It is clear now what some of those ‘head scratching” areas were (Clint Frazier was let go early in the off season, and DJ LeMahieu is positioned as a reserve coming into this year, for example). Cashman addressed Defense at catcher and the entire infield.
Still — Yankee Twitter had conniptions during the off season (when it finally resumed in March after the 3-month lockout) — that the Yanks got Cheap — did not go after an elite shortstop like Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, did not go after an elite starter (while the Mets signed Max Scherzer), and did not sign another elite hitter (like Freddie Freeman).
Many on Yankee Twitter seem to forget — the Yankees are LOADED — with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes Jr, the bullpen, etc.
And all the money in the world will not increase chances to win the whole thing beyond 10-1. Ten teams make the playoffs, and in baseball a good team can beat a great team in a short series. Atlanta last year won 87 games but got on a roll in the playoffs and won it all. They didn’t have clutcher players — they just got lucky at the right time (luck in terms of health of key players, etc).
My prediction: the Yankees should win 100+ games — I predict 102 wins — and knock on the door of the AL East title. Knock on the door because Toronto is loaded, and Tampa won 102 games last year — so winning 102 does not guarantee an AL East title.
The Yanks will roll into the playoffs and then its a 10-1 roll of the dice to win it all. I hope they go deep, and win it all.
Comments? What’s Your Prediction?
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