New York Yankees Season Preview

Story posted April 1, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Adam Babetski

The New York Yankees finished last season on a disappointing note, as they lost in the ALDS to the Tampa Bay Rays. The current group of Yankees have fallen short in the playoffs each of the last four seasons, but is the 2021 team finally good enough to win it all?

Over the last several seasons, the Yankees had been criticized for failing to address weaknesses in their rotation, which ended up costing them in October. Before last season, the Yankees made a splash and added Astros ace Gerrit Cole to the top of their rotation. Their plan fell apart, though, when both Luis Severino and James Paxton suffered season-ending injuries and Cole was forced to carry the load in the playoffs.

This year, the Yankees have focused more on depth than adding aces, but bizarrely doubled down on acquiring pitchers with injury histories. The team inked former Indians ace and two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to a one-year deal, and shortly thereafter swung a trade with the Pirates for Jameson Taillon, a promising and often overlooked righty.

Kluber is now three seasons removed from his former self due to a fractured arm and a shoulder injury, and he has only pitched a single inning since May of 2019. Taillon, a survivor of testicular cancer, underwent his second Tommy John surgery midway through 2019 and has not thrown a pitch in a major league game since.

The rest of the rotation is filled out by a solid lefty in Jordan Montgomery and Domingo German, who is returning from a lengthy suspension for domestic violence but is an impact player when on the field.

Top prospects Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt will begin the season in AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre and Severino is projected to return during the summer, giving the Yankees a potential surplus of options that they will likely need.

The Yankees have spent the last few seasons trimming costs from what had been considered by many to be a “super bullpen” but is no longer the class of the league. The team jettisoned Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino in favor of cheaper options in Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson, who will begin the season on the injured list.

Also on the injured list is setup man Zack Britton, who will miss the large part of the season following a bone chip surgery. The impact of losing Britton, who is one the best relievers in the game, cannot be understated.

More than ever, the Yankees will be relying on young arms such as Jonathan Loaisiga and Nick Nelson to take the next step towards handling high-leverage situations.

The Yankees lineup remains virtually unchanged from last year. Defending batting champion D.J. LeMahieu, fresh off of a six-year extension, will lead off a lineup that contains Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier.

To put it simply, the Yankees are going to score a lot of runs if they can stay healthy. Judge, Voit and Stanton have all led the league in home runs at least once. Those same players combined to break the all-time team home run record in 2019 and finished no worse than third in runs scored per game in each of the last three seasons.

Despite their impressive achievements, the Yankees’ most decorated sluggers have extensive injury histories. While Judge and Stanton, who have each missed large parts of the last two seasons, are on track to be healthy on Opening Day, Voit suffered a torn meniscus in Spring Training and has an unknown recovery timeline.

Injuries or not, the Yankees should be able to overcome their shortcomings and slug their way to an American League East crown. Unlike the defending champion Dodgers, though, the Yankees have refused to go for the throat.

The Dodgers added the controversial reigning National League Cy Young winner, Trevor Bauer, which might go over in their clubhouse as well as Mentos in a liter of Coke, but they are nonetheless trying to improve a roster already widely considered to be the best in baseball.

The Yankees finished second in their division last year and were knocked out of the playoffs by the team ahead of them, but they have chosen to tread water with minor upgrades that carry risk. The Yankees are still one of the best teams in the league, but don’t be surprised if they are not the ones representing the AL in the World Series come October.

Prediction: 97-65

 

Adam Babetski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email aqb6023@psu.edu.