Opening day 2017. Most media analysts predict an 80-82, 4th place finish for the Yankees for 2017. I predict a 90-72, 2nd place season with a Wild Card.
Why the difference?
Most media analysts view the Yankee pitching staff as a big ?? question mark. Especially the back end of the rotation where they see a bunch of guys with 2-2 4.xx records for their major league career. So they see a staff that is Masahiro Tanaka and pray for rain. When Michael Pineda pitches, I pray for rain too but I’m much higher on CC Sabathia than most.
Sabathia = True Grit; Coming Off Good Year
CC had a good season last year — 9-12 3.91 — 179.2 innings, 172 hits, 152 K’s. He could’ve easily been 12-9. He was great his first 11 starts; horrible his next 11 starts; and then found his groove again to pitch well his last 8 starts. He is only 36 and is full of True Grit and know-how.
Back End of the Rotation — the Youngsters
As far as the big ?? question mark of the back end of the rotation — maybe I’m biased and have rose-colored glasses on, but I’ve actually watched the young Yankee pitchers pitch — whereas most media analysts from other teams haven’t watched them at all; they are just looking at statistics.
1. I love to watch Bryan Mitchell pitch — the movement on his curveball and fastball. Mitchell does have some trouble with his control and did not win a spot in the rotation this Spring (although it was 5 pitchers battling for 2 spots).
2. I love to watch Luis Cessa pitch — his moxie on the mound; he has pedigree (coming from the stacked Mets organization). He looked great at end of last season. On the negative side, he got touched up a bit in some of his appearances this Spring and starts the year in AAA.
3. I love to watch Chad Green pitch — when his off-speed is off-speeding he can put down Major League lineups with ease. He had a 1.54 ERA in AAA last year.
We saw all of this at the end of last season, when Green, Cessa, and Mitchell gave the Yankees a lot of fun starts in the middle of a late-season, unexpected playoff push.
4. And then this spring us Yankee fans have seen the terrific pitching of Jordan Montgomery, who has come out of nowhere to possibly cement himself as the 5th starter. Once upon a time a pitcher named Ron Guidry — a relief pitcher who was 28 years old — came out of nowhere to cement a 5th starter spot on the Yankees; hoping Montgomery can do similar things to Guidry’s rookie 16-7 season.
5. Then there is Luis Severino, whom I’m not convinced is a starter. I have a lot of ?? question marks about him. The Yankee management still has faith in him. His starts at the end of Spring training were impressive; if he does well it’s a bonus.
I hear people say the Yankee ballpen should be ‘solid’. I hate that overused-these-days term “solid”. I think the Yankee ballpen should be Terrific. Back comes Aroldis Chapman; Dellin Betances is the setup; Adam Warren is there for the 8th. Yanks should be in Great shape here.
Last year the Yanks came into the Spring with an OLD OLD lineup that featured Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira as its 3rd and 4th hitters, with Carlos Beltran at #5, and Brian McCann at #6.A year later we have Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Matt Holliday, and Gary Sanchez.
- Bird hit homeruns in Spring Training with effortless swing.
- Sanchez lit up the American League last year and is primed for a full season.
- Holliday looks good this spring; hitting homers and line drives.
- Aaron Judge‘s new reduced-leg-kick swing had him hitting .333 in Spring Training. Yank Manager Brian Cashman says they just want Judge to put the bat on the ball, and enough fly balls will go out he is so strong. So far, it looks like it may work. Judge is a great fielder and fast on the bases — if he can hit .260 or higher this year, the Yanks will have an awesome lineup. But 3 of those 4 hitters are rookies who will go thru rookie slumps so we’ll see.
- Meanwhile Aaron Hicks hit well in the spring so he looks like he’s ready for a good year.
On the Way Up
Gleyber Torres looked great in the Spring and was torrid in winter ball. He is now the #3 prospect in all of baseball. He’s off to AA but he may be back up by the second half of season.
Yanks won 84 games last year with an old lineup, broken rickety starting pitching staff (remember Nathan Eovaldi?), and phenomenal ballpen (Andrew Miller is the one star from last year’s team who is gone). This year the Yanks are loaded with young hitting talent who seem poised to become good or great MLB players; a better starting staff, and a great ballpen still.
I see the Yanks improving by 6 games to win 90 games.
CBS Sports writers predict Yanks for 3rd, 4th, or 5th (last) in division:
@FiveThirtyEight predicts Yanks: 80-82. However they update their predictions after every game https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2017-mlb-predictions/
SB Nation predicts the Yanks for 4th place (Orioles 5th) http://www.sbnation.com/a/mlb-2017-season-preview
USA Today predicts Yankees to go 80-82, 4th place in East: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2017/03/30/mlb-2017-predictions-world-series-mvp-cy-young/99840328/
Bleacher Report’s @JoelReuterBR predicts Yankees to go 81-81, 4th place in East http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2691013-mlb-predictions-2017-projecting-the-final-standings
@WulfESPN is the only one of 35 writers at ESPN who predicts Yankees taking division title http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/page/SeasonpreviewMLB_2017predictions/2017-mlb-experts-mlb-team-predictions