Yankees GBU – A treacherous opening series
This new Yankees feature on Double G Sports is going to be called the Yankees GBU. GBU stands for Good, Bad, and Ugly, and it’ll be the best way to recap each series with more insight and less pure statistics. The New York Yankees played the first series of the year against what could be the worst Orioles team in their illustrious history.
Of course, baseball is unlike any other sport where even the worst teams can get the best of good teams at any given moment. Sure in football there’s an “Any Given Sunday” mentality, but a dominant start by a bad pitcher can make a terrible team look like they’re headed to the World Series.
The Yankees looked fantastic in their first game of the season but looked lifeless in the next two games of the series. A lot of the issues they ran into last season came back to haunt them. It’s not a big deal at all because it’s the third game of the season, but there are some disturbing trends that reared its ugly head once again. Let’s take a look at the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly from the Yankees’ disappointing Opening Series.
Masahiro Tanaka looks good
Luis Severino may be lost for a month or so, but Masahiro Tanaka was a natural candidate to take over as Opening Day starter as he’s still an ace himself. Tanaka pitched to the tune of 5 2/3 innings of one (earned) run ball and didn’t even really have his splitter working.
It’s early in the season but the success of Tanaka is key for a good Yankees season. There are going to be injuries, but as long as the Yankees can rely on their number two starter they’ll be in good shape. Tanaka is a gamer so he’s ready for any situation he’s put into.
D.J. Lemahieu and Aaron Judge are working the count
These two Yankees are the only two that seem to know how to work a count (minus Brett Gardner’s at bat on Sunday afternoon). Lemahieu and Judge worked the Orioles’ pitchers to a 3-2 count almost every at bat. Judge struck out three times on Sunday but he also had a 2 RBI single and had three walks on Friday.
Lemahieu is one of the best contact hitters in the game. He is a Godsend for the Yankees considering they are one of the worst hitting teams with RISP. According to Katie Sharp of River Ave. Blues, they are 24th in the league with RISP from 2013 to present. Anyway, Lemahieu is a professional hitter, makes contact on nearly 67% of the balls he swings at, and has two hits in four at bats, including an RBI single on Sunday.
Aaron Boone’s bullpen management
Aaron Boone is still learning and as mentioned before, it’s the third game of the season. However, Boone made two key errors when working with his bullpen on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday afternoon, he left Jonathan Holder in for the ninth inning. The Yankees were down 3-1 when Holder was in. Holder proceeded to give up two runs to make it a 5-1 game. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth and nearly came back.
Boone made the same exact mistake on Sunday when he put in Stephen Tarpley in a similar situation. The O’s hit a two run home run in the eighth and extended their lead to 7-4. The Yankees had an opportunity to tie the game but Troy Tulowitzki (who pinch hit for Brett Gardner) struck out to end the game. If the game had been closer, it could have been another win for the Yankees.
This is just one of those situations where if his moves worked out they wouldn’t be talked about. However, regardless of who the “opener” is for the Yankees’ next game, they should have their BEST guys in big situations, not their last two guys out of the bullpen. It’s a long season but not having your best guys out there in crunch time is a bit ludicrous. As Herm Edwards said, you play to win the game.
Aroldis Chapman’s velocity
It was mentioned a few times over the past couple of weeks but Aroldis Chapman has a serious velocity problem. It’s one thing for a heavy handed pitcher to work into their velocity, which happens often considering the weather conditions and stretching out their arms at the beginning of the season. It’s another that Chapman’s velocity has consistently dropped over the past few seasons.
Chapman won the 2016 World Series with the Chicago Cubs but looked completely gassed by the end. He barely made it to the finish line and since he’s come back to the Yankees (after being traded at the deadline) he’s been losing velocity every year. He’s hovering around 94-95 MPH, way down from his normal 99-100 MPH, but he is throwing with even less control than he usually does. It’s a sad sight to see, and hopefully by the time May rolls around he’ll be back to normal.
This team still doesn’t know how to produce runs
The biggest issue the Yankees had last season was their inability to start rallies and produce runs in ways other than hitting the long ball. This has continued to begin the season. Over the Yankees’ two losses on Saturday and Sunday, they left a combined 47 runners left on base. Every player was trying to hit a home run and that’s just not how you’re supposed to play baseball.
The biggest culprits of this were Luke Voit, Gary Sanchez, and Miguel Andujar. After Voit’s big three run home run on Thursday, he struck out twice with runners in scoring position over the weekend. Sanchez hit a home run on Sunday, but he left multiple men on base as well. As for Andujar? Well he looks absolutely lost right now, striking out twice and producing only two runs on multiple bases loaded attempts.
They lost two games to the Orioles
We’re three games in and most Yankee fans think the sky is falling. They don’t believe that the Yankees are any good and they can’t fathom them losing a series, even if there are still 159 games left. However, facts are facts and the Yankees were outplayed by the worst team in baseball two out of three games. Not just outplayed, but embarrassed.
It’s not that the scores were lopsided but the Yankees could have EASILY won each of these Opening Weekend games and they didn’t because of their inability to get runs. It’s not a talent issue, it’s a mentality issue. The fact that they lost two of three to the Baltimore Orioles probably means nothing in the long run, but it’s a terrible look to start the season.
This Yankees team has the potential to be special. This team also has the potential to be a team that severely underachieves. If the Bombers can’t work out some of those kinks that haunted them last season, it’s going to be a disappointing one. Stay tuned for the next Yankees series, which kicks off Monday at 6:35 PM against the Tigers.
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