The New York Yankees are 1-2 to start the season after losing 2 of 3 home games to the Baltimore Orioles, a team projected to lose 162 games. Not a great start.
After exploding offensively in the season opener, the Yankees bats immediately went cold as they turned the Orioles pitchers into instant Cy Young favorites.
It’s early as hell so time to wildly speculate and extrapolate based off this tiny sample size.
Here are the 5 biggest takeaways from the New York Yankees opening series against the Baltimore Orioles:
1. Tanaka and Paxton Are Beasts
Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton are the perfect 1-2 combo as both pitchers aggressively attack pitchers with fairly similar styles except one is a lefty and ones a righty.
70% of their pitches were strikes. When you have Gary Sanchez back there letting every ball fly past him, throwing pitches in the strike zone is imperative.
Paxton’s ability to get swing and misses on his fastball alone will be crucial for the New York Yankees success going forward. Everyone in the lineup throws sliders so opposing hitters are waiting for that Severino/Sabathia slider. Paxton is just throwing heat directly past you. Nothing you can do about that.
2. JA Happ is not
Pitchers can have bad starts on any given week. It’s not fair to dismiss Happ simply because his bad start happened to be his first start of the season. He gave up four runs on five hits and a walk in just 4 innings of work. Against the Baltimore Orioles, mind you.
It’s impossible to not point out the fact that the Yankees did not in any way need to bring back this 36 year old man for $17 million, especially considering that Dallas Keuchel is available and waiting for his phone to ring.
Does Happ suck? To be determined. (but yes, probably).
3. DJ LeMahieu is the best hitter of all time
DJ LeMahieu at-bats are art. In the last four seasons, LeMahieu has the 5th lowest swing and miss rate, which is a state I heard after DJ was signed but it didn’t register until he actually stepped into the batter’s box and had complete control.
Michael Kay brings up that he won a batting title like, no less than 80 times a game but then you see him hit and you’re like ‘wow, this guy can win a batting title. I wonder if he ever has’.
4. Brett Gardner is WASHED
Brett Gardner has really good at-bats once every couple of weeks where he battles and fouls off pitch after pitcher after pitcher and typically something good happens in the end.
Outside of those random occurances, he typically hits infield pop ups so Aaron Judge is always up with at least one out because Gardner swung through a 91mph fastball.
Perhaps Gardner isn’t completely washed but Andrew McCutchen was better than him last season. And the Yankees kept Gardner instead of bringing back McCutchen because they were being nice(?).
Andrew McCutchen has two home runs this season already. Brett Gardner might never hit two home runs again.
5. This team has the same exact flaws from 2018
So, I understand that the Yankees won 100 games last season and the only reason why they were in the Wild Card game is because Boston had a historically great season and blah blah.
But the Yankees looked dreadful at points in the year and the Red Sox stuffed them in a locker mainly because the Yankees completely lack situational hitting.
Every single guy goes up there and swings for the fences regardless of who’s on base, how many outs there are and what the count is. You watch other teams around the league bat around and drive runners home with base hits and then you watch a Yankees game as 5 straight hitters wait for fastballs down the middle to drive into the seats.
Yes, they draw a lot of walks but that’s simply due to the fact that Stanton is waiting for a fastball down the middle and he won’t take a swing at anything but that. Which is fine in the first inning of a 0-0 game but not so fine in the bottom of the 7th with the Yankees down 1 run with 2 outs and a man on second base.
Get ready for another frustrating season where Gary Sanchez strikes out infinity times at balls thrown into the dirt and the bottom half of the starting rotation give up a bajillion runs in the first inning.
I say all that to say that the Yankees are going to win 100 games again and none of this matters.