The New York Yankees got off to a not-so-auspicious start to the season, dropping two at home against the rival Boston Red Sox. The doomsayers reared their ugly heads immediately. Two games, however, does not a season make. Nor does a baker’s dozen, but with almost two weeks’ worth of games under the Bombers’ belts, we can make some observations about the team.
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They have the pitching. Part of the problem in the very beginning of the season was some atrocious pitching performances by CC Sabathia (whose career opening-day stats are 1-2, 5.80 ERA, 1.64 WHIP) and Hiroki Kuroda. Both have bounced back with performances much more suited to an ace and a solid number-two starter. Andy Pettitte is still a vital component of the rotation (2-0 with a 1.12 ERA). The only concern will be keeping his 40-year-old body healthy for an entire season. He missed his last start because of back spasms.
The real issues are coming from the younger, back end of the rotation. Ivan Nova managed to bounce back a bit on Tuesday night from his abysmal first start, but he only went five innings after throwing 94 pitches. Phil Hughes has been even worse. He’s 0-2 with a 10.29 ERA and has managed to go seven innings total in his first two starts. Both righties need to look over their shoulder because David Phelps, currently looming in the bullpen, has been pitching well proving that last year was no fluke.
They can still hit for power. Fans and pundits were wringing their hands about the New York Yankees loss of power. Between the injuries and the players lost to free agency, where were all those home runs going to come from now? Well, the Yankees have slugged 19 home runs, which puts them fourth overall in the MLB. Additionally, they are number two in the majors in both slugging percentage (.474) and on-base percentage (. 824). This is all before the weather has heated up and any of their key injured hitters have returned.
Maybe we were wrong about Vernon Wells. I admit I thought that Wells was going to be a total bust. We always hear about guys turning it around and having a great spring training so forgive me if I was dubious. While the sample size is small, Wells has looked good at the plate. His stats so far: .300 BA, .600 SLG, .991 OPS with three home runs. He’s also been a good citizen saying all the right things about being proud to wear the pinstripes. If Wells continues to put up the numbers, it may be the struggling Ichiro Suzuki who will be warming the bench when Curtis Granderson returns from the DL in May.
The New York Yankees are just a game or two shy of first place. I said before the season started that as long as they can tread water for the first few months, they will stay in the playoff hunt. For the moment, that is what they are doing and then some.