The New York Yankees fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2017 season opener, 7-3. After building a lot of momentum after a very successful Spring Training, that all came to a screeching halt in the opener. After watching that game, here are some things i learned and expect going forward.
The Yankees need Tanaka to be better. Masahiro Tanaka is easily the Yankees best pitcher and really the only starter on the staff that when he’s on the mound, Yankee fans feel confident. I don’t expect this to be a sign that he isn’t going to have an excellent season like he’s accustomed to doing, but the Yankees need him to be their ace if they want to make the playoffs.
How the Yankees bullpen will look during the 2017 season may have been in full effect during the game. Not saying that the Yankees starter wont be making it out of the 3rd inning every game, but the opener really showed how the bullpen may look. Many believe that Adam Warren should be the 5th starter on this team, but judging from yesterday’s game, he seems like he will be used as a long reliever due to his versatility, and Bryan Mitchell seems destined to be the 5th starter. Tommy Layne was the first lefty out of the pen and he looked great striking out two in his inning of work. After the game seemed all but over, the Yankees used Chasen Shreve and Jonathan Holder, these two youngsters still have a lot of learning to do but both of them, along with the rest of the bullpen, looked excellent, even in a game that didn’t feature Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, or Aroldis Chapman
Although they only produced three runs, I thought the Yankees offense didn’t look too bad. Chris Archer is one of the best pitchers in baseball when he’s on and he was definitely on in the opener for Tampa Bay. The two brightest spots on the offense were Starlin Castro and Chase Headley, as combined they went 6-8 while also being the three runs that scored in the game.
While Headley and Castro played great, what pleased me the most was watching Aaron Judge sit back on an 86 mph slider and rip it down the left field line for a double. Judge worked hard on improving his mechanics coming into the season and if he can make hard contact on pitches like that and stay patient at the plate, he may be in for a very productive year. The heart of the lineup combined went 0-for-13 with four strikeouts, but they were making good contact with the ball and Gary Sanchez actually hit a ball that was 115 mph off the bat, so this lineup seems like it can produce this season.
There were plenty of causes for concern after the season opener but there were also plenty of things that Yankee fans should be optimistic about. I believe this team is better than what they showed yesterday and should be able to win some ballgames this season, no need to panic after one bad game, there are still 161 more for this team to figure it out.