With Major League Baseball slated to return in late July, many teams are beginning to ramp up their preseason work. For the Yankees, following a year in which they won the AL East for the first time since 2012 and were just 2 games away from making it to the World Series, the boys in the Bronx are now the favorites to make it out of the American League. NY is also tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best odds to win it all it all after an offseason in which they bolstered their already strong roster.
Here are some points to consider when evaluating the potential of the Bronx Bombers:
Reasons to be optimistic:
Gerrit Cole: Yankees fans are salivating over the chance to see their new ace in pinstripes. For the last several years, Cole has proven to be in the conversation for the best pitcher in all of baseball. Last year, the former Houston Astro furthered his case while having the second-best ERA in the MLB with 2.50. Cole also had the greatest K/9 ratio in a single season of all time (!).
The Yankees had often been criticized by analysts and fans for not having a strong enough pitching rotation. But with the signing of phenom Gerrit Cole, this makes a clear case for a top rotation in the big leagues.
Strength of the Bullpen: Because of the fact that every game is going to be more pivotal and costly due to the decreased number of games, each game is going to be played more like a playoff game. Because of this, teams are going to utilize their bullpens at a much higher rate which is why it is very beneficial to be strong in that area.
Especially at the beginning of the season, when pitchers are most likely going to be pulled after a few innings fans could possibly see 4 to 7 arms in a game. Luckily, the Yankees have arguably the best bullpen in baseball with Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zach Britton, and of course the ‘Cuban Missle’, Aroldis Chapman.
Enhanced lineup: The already strong lineup of the Bronx Bombers is coming back even stronger. Many believed that a problem for the Yankees was that they’re lineup was too focused on power. But, with contact hitters such as DJ LeMahieu, Brett Gardner, and Gleyber Torres pairing with the power-hitters of a healthy (fingers crossed) Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez, it is tough to find holes in this elite lineup.
Reasons for Concern:
Schedule: Everyone speculated that a 60-game season wouldn’t be perfectly fair for every team, and that is the case for the Yankees. Due to the new scheduling for the shortened season, ball clubs are prioritizing the reduction of travel. Therefore, teams will play teams that are closer to one each other, rather than unnecessary travel.
While this is necessary for health purposes, this means that while the Yankees have to play a bold Mets team 6 times, the competitive Tampa Bay Rays and lastly, the horrendous Miami Marlins 6 times. This would be equivalent to about 16 Games if the season was the typical 162 games.
Injuries: The big key for the Yankees is certainly going to be health. In recent years, injuries have plagued this team with multiple major blows occurring every year. In a condensed season, teams cannot afford to lose players for any quantity of games because a typically small losing streak can ruin a season for a team.
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