It’s been quite a start to the most anticipated baseball season I can remember. In a “60-game sprint” as it’s been deemed, we’ve had multiple postponed games because of the COVID-19 virus, a surprise visit to Baltimore and a very hot start. With week one in the books, the Bronx boys in pinstripes are 6-1 and looking to keep the momentum rolling during a season where every game is more important than ever.
First, let’s start with the big free agent signing from this offseason. Gerrit Cole has been absolutely electric so far, and it looks like the Yankees have finally secured the bonafide ace for whom they’ve been searching. In his first start, he shut down last year’s champions, the Washington Nationals over five innings in a rain shortened season opener. He showed some slight early season rust in the later innings against the lowly Orioles in his next appearance, but overall, he’s 2-0, and that’s exactly what the Yankees wanted to see early in the year. The big question remains, however, is the rotation good enough as a whole compared to some of the other elite staffs come playoff time, and can we piggy-back on Cole if other pitchers start to faulter? I predict Jordan Montgomery will cement himself as a solid number two in the rotation when the season is all said and done and will help tow some of the load. It’s a blessing to have him back, and I can’t wait to see him go deeper into some of these games later in the season.
You know how they say defense wins championships? Truer words have never been spoken. Elite teams do not play sloppy baseball, and the Yankees are expected to be the best of the best this year. Enter Gio Urshela. Possibly one of the best defensive players I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, Gio is a lock one day to win a Gold Glove and with a full season of playing time, I expect that day to come sooner rather than later. As incredible a hitter Miguel Andujar is, there’s no denying the value and importance Gio has had for the club. Plus, the stick he swings isn’t too shabby either, showing consistent power the other way, while always producing solid contact and never giving the opposing pitcher an easy out. I’d love to see the Yankees offer him a team-friendly contract similar to the one they gave to Aaron Hicks.
Speaking of defense, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up Gary Sanchez. While his defense has vastly improved from year to year, he’s still got a long way to go defensively. I expect his offensive woes to turn around, but in a short season, I’m sure the Yankees would like to see him flip the switch ASAP. Scary Gary has made probably the most important defensive play of the season when he threw out Emilio Bonafacio at third base in the bottom of the ninth of the rubber match in the opening series. However, his passed ball is the reason he got to second in the first place. We’ll take the good with the bad here and hope he can continue to improve.
While the Yankees had some trouble capitalizing on the Nationals mistakes, the results were there as they won the series. As per usual, they beat up on the Orioles and Aaron Judge has been as clutch as ever, now crushing the ball out of the yard in four straight games. Having a healthy and productive Judge is the difference between a great team and a championship team as he’s the current face of baseball for a reason. With he and Giancarlo Stanton mashing, this team is going to continue to play at their absolute best.
There is one thing Yankee fans have absolutely no reason to worry over, and that’s the bullpen. Even without elite closer Aroldis Chapman, they’ve done a fantastic job protecting leads and I expect that to continue as on paper, this is the best bullpen in the game. With Cole pitching like the ace everyone expected him to be, Montgomery picking up right where he left off, Tanaka coming back, and Paxton destined for a turnaround, the Yankees pitching staff as a whole looks like they can help this team go all the way if all goes according to plan. If I’m being honest though, the pitcher that excites me the most isn’t even currently on the team, and that’s Clarke Schmidt. This projected top-of-the-line starter has looked nothing but dominant in both camps so far this year, and I expect him to be a big part of the Yankee team before the season is over.
Of course, for that to happen, the season would have to actually end. All of this could be for naught if Covid-19 has its way. They’ve taken out the Marlins for an entire week in a season where there are almost no days off and now the Cardinals have been struck by the virus. Rob Manfred has already hinted that the season could be in jeopardy, so what has been a strong start to the season could be a waste. I’ll be keeping my fingers and toes crossed that it all works out in the end.