This five-part series will take us on a journey through the American League East, which is shaping up to be the most competitive division in baseball. Let’s start with perennial favorites, the New York Yankees.
Yes, the Yankees have performed even better than they normally do to start a season, with a whopping 3 more wins than losses. That said, their pitching staff has been getting a grilling as Michael Pineda is out for the entire season and Freddy Garcia is serving up more home runs than Yankee Stadium does hotdogs. Nothing needs to be said about Phil Hughes except that the Yankees kept him over Ian Kennedy! The sluggers, particularly Robinson Cano, have yet to get going. Nick Swisher is one of the few bright spots in the lineup.
The bullpen, however, has had a fantastic start. Mariano Rivera, after one putrid relief appearance, has settled down. David Robertson is his usual dominant self, and Rafael Soriano has overcome his struggles from last year, though his walk rate is a bit high for comfort. Manager Joe Girardi has mercifully pulled Garcia as a starter and will likely utilize him as a long reliever in the bullpen. They still have two dominant starters in CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda while third pitcher Ivan Nova keeps them in games when he pitches. Andy Pettitte is on the verge of a comeback and has been pitching well in his minor league matchups. Finally, New York has an underrated but strong bench that’s blessed with both power and speed.
The Yankees still control their destiny as long as they don’t keep dropping entire series to the Tampa Rays. They can outhit the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, and can beat the Boston Red Sox with their relief and even starting pitching (how things have changed).
Both the wild card and division are in play. If Pettitte comes back strong, then the Yankees will have a better rotation than the one that won the 2009 World Series.