Your 2019 New York Yankees Season Preview
The sun is shining, it’s Springtime and the New York Yankees start their regular season on Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. It should come to the surprise of no one that once again expectations are sky high for this Yankees squad.
Despite some injuries to start the season, the Yankees are loaded with talent and looking to redeem themselves after an embarrassing exit from the postseason. After playing to a 1-1 tie at Fenway Park in the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees got blown out at home 16-1 in Game 3 and bowed out in four games. If the Yankees are to win the World Series this season, they need to go through the reigning champs. There is a lot to cover with the season just around the corner.
Opening Day Lineup (Positions confirmed, not lineup)
Gardner – CF
Judge – RF
Stanton – LF
Bird – 1B
Sanchez – C
Voit – DH
Andujar – 3B
Tulowitzki – SS
Torres – 2B
IL – Gregorius, Hicks
It’s a blessing that somehow Miguel Andujar won’t be any higher than 7th in this stacked lineup. This lineup order isn’t confirmed but there are a couple of reasons for constructing it this way;
- Judge will most likely bat second but I could also very much see Tulo move up and bump everyone down
- It’s a very righty heavy lineup so having Bird break up the righties in the middle of the lineup is helpful
- Gleyber Torres should act as a second leadoff hitter, and it will protect him a bit in case he gets into a funk early in the season
- Gary Sanchez has to prove himself early in the season or he’ll immediately drop in the order
Starting Rotation (Projected)
IL – Severino, Sabathia, Montgomery
Once Sevy and C.C. are back from injury/suspension, Severino will be at the top of the rotation and Sabathia will most likely be slotted in the fifth position unless the Yankees are playing a lefty heavy team, in which case he would move up a day.
- It’ll be interesting to see how Gio Gonzalez fits into this equation. If German or Cessa struggle early don’t be surprised to see Gio almost immediately
- It’s also worthy to note that once Dellin Betances gets back, either German, Cessa or Jonathan Loaisiga will be sent back to AAA. It’s a four man race for those last two starting spots right now
- Where does Jordan Montgomery fit in this rotation when he comes back? Can they plug him in anywhere or are there too many lefties now?
Let’s break these two X-factors down one by one. The first and more important X-Factor is the hopeful resurgence of Gary Sanchez. After a masterful 2017 season where he batted .278 with 33 HR and 90 RBI, Sanchez followed it up with a clunker, batting .186 with 18 HR, 53 RBI and 73 games missed. If the Yankees are going anywhere this year, they can’t have one of their best players hitting under .200. In addition to that, Sanchez has been working on his defense once again and needs to stay focused at all times behind the plate. If the Yankees have a focused, motivated, and defensively sound Sanchez coming into the season he will rip the cover off the ball.
The second and less important is the health of Greg Bird. As stated numerous times over the past however many years, Greg Bird is a great player who can never stay healthy. The story always goes somewhat like this; Greg Bird has a great Spring Training, gets hurt either at the tail end or beginning of season, tries to fight through injury, re-injures himself and either has a nagging injury for the rest of the season or is shut down. It’s a tried and true method. The reason why this is less important is because Luke Voit, who starts on this team as the Designated Hitter, is a capable defender now and can step in at moment’s notice if Bird starts to struggle or gets hurt again. All things considered though, a healthy Greg Bird makes the Yankees’ lineup that much more dangerous.
The Yankees will make the playoffs if……
They literally just play every game the way they should. The game of baseball is fickle in the fact that every bad play or every tough loss seems to fade away by the end of the season. There will be a time in late May when Aaron Boone makes a bad managerial call and the New York media will be calling for his head. People tend to forget that the MLB regular season stretches on for nearly half the year, so literally all the Yankees need to do is play good baseball.
It sounds so simple but the Yankees are a top three team in the MLB talent wise. Talent doesn’t always equal winning, but it’s safe to say with the roster GM Brian Cashman has constructed, you’ll see the Yankees in the playoffs. How far they go will be determined at a later date, but this Yankees team is simply too talented to not make the playoffs. Can they underachieve? Of course, but underachieving for a team like this would be being a Wild Card team.
The Yankees will miss the playoffs if……
They have a few catastrophic injuries and fling themselves into panic mode. They’re already missing the following important players; Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, C.C. Sabathia, Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius. A season-ending injury to Aaron Judge, James Paxton, or any of the Yankees’ other stars would be a huge blow to this team. Aaron Hicks is more important to this team than people realize. Brett Gardner isn’t the same player he used to be and having him play over 100 games in the outfield wouldn’t be in the Yankees’ best interest. An extended absence from Hicks would be a big loss.
However, because of their depth, the only way they’d really miss the playoffs is if the team was so decimated by injuries that they’re trying to string together a rotation with J.A. Happ at the top and a lineup with Miguel Andujar leading off. Even if the Yankees get off track for a few weeks, they’re too talented to not get back to their winning ways.
The Yankees can win the World Series by……
Having James Paxton become the ace of the staff. Paxton was traded to the Yankees by the Seattle Mariners. In the deal, the Yankees unfortunately had to give away potential star Justus Sheffield. However, Paxton is currently in the prime of his career and coming off a great season (11-6, 3.76 ERA, 208 SO).
Luis Severino is always going to be the ace of this staff, but as we saw last season he wore down pretty heavily by the end of September. Masahiro Tanaka is an absolute gamer but his UCL is a ticking time bomb and over-use would be detrimental for him too. If the Yankees can rely on Paxton to be the moose they need, the sky is the limit. He can bring them to the promised land, he just needs to be able to handle the pressures of New York.
The Yankees can’t win the World Series by……
Relying too much on the home run. The Red Sox won the World Series last year because they came up big in clutch situations. Good pitching always beats good hitting, but clutch hitting reigns supreme above all. The Red Sox know how to produce runs and have productive outs, something the Yankees seemingly forgot last year.
The Yankees CANNOT be the same boom or bust team they were last season if they expect to win the World Series. With guys like D.J. Lemahieu in the fold and Aaron Judge improving his strikeout rate each year, they’re working on it, but it’s still not good enough. If the Yankees don’t improve upon that number, they won’t have a shot against the analytic darlings of the American League.
The one guy to keep an eye out during the season is Luke Voit. Between his incredible power last season and his underdog-esque story, he’s a very easy guy to root for. Voit came into Spring Training with that same pop that got him into the starting lineup in the first place.
He’s worked himself into a full time DH role, and he’ll most likely spell Greg Bird whenever he needs a rest at first. Considering Bird’s injury history, don’t be surprised to see Voit become the full time first baseman later in the season. Voit will be a Yankee staple, not just a Shane Spencer. Look for a .267, 30 HR, 86 RBI stat-line.
Dud of the Year
Unfortunately, I foresee Gleyber Torres having a big regression from last season. Torres started out hot last season but went through a huge slump through the end of the season and never really regained his composure. He’s an uber-talented kid and a wizard in the field, but he’s still very young and strikes out at an alarming rate.
That’s not to say that he won’t produce, but don’t expect Torres to keep the same pace as Miguel Andujar, who I believe WILL replicate those stats from last year (in which he was robbed of ROY). Torres needs to learn to be more patient at the plate before he can become a star, and constantly getting fooled by off-speed pitches in Spring Training isn’t a good omen. I hope I’m wrong but Torres may be in store for a rough season.
Record – 101-61 (1st Place – AL East)
Playoffs – Loss (4-3) in ALCS to Houston Astros
The New York Yankees are an extremely talented team, but they just don’t have enough quality hitters to put them over the edge. They have a lot of fun talent and a lot of guys who can hit home runs, but there’s not as much substance there as people think. With potential injuries to Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, C.C. Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino always on the horizon, there are just too many “what ifs” to say the Yankees will win a World Series.
CAN the Yankees win a World Series this year? Of course, but they would also have to go through most likely the best pitching staff in baseball in Houston and the most clutch hitters in Boston. That’s a tall task for a team that looked completely lost for games at a time in the playoffs. This can all change by the time July rolls around, and the Yankees could pick up a deadline acquisition that fills that void, but for now I see them losing in Game 7 again to the Astros because they just won’t be able to produce enough runs.
It’s going to be a great season for the New York Yankees. There are so many different things that are in play for this team. Whether it be the potential for injury, the unknown status of James Paxton playing in the Bronx, or the moving pieces both in the rotation in the lineup, it will most definitely be entertaining. Opening Day is just around the corner and we should all feel like little kids getting ready for what’s to be a long six months. Let’s just hope at the end of this journey, it all culminates with a parade down the Canyon of Heroes. The Road to 28 starts Thursday afternoon. Buckle up.
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