BY Rich Mancuso, thenyextra.com
Gerrit Cole was acquired to lead the Yankees to another championship during a 162-game season. A 60-game truncated season of a sprint and nothing less should be expected. This version of the 2020 NY Yankees has depth in the lineup and pitching.
Cole is the ace. Without Masahiro Tanaka to begin, and a strong bullpen, the Yankees are built on the mound. That’s one aspect to this unusual season that begins for the Yankees at the defending champion Washington Nationals Thursday.
Oh, that lineup. Up and down, off the bench, and the Yankees are considered the difficult team to beat. Consider that a healthy Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez will be in the lineup at the same time.
Consider that the trio did not play much as a unit last year. Now, consider they stay on the field and remain healthy. If so, the Yankees have that ability to score a record number of runs in this 60-game sprint.
They have that ability to also hit a record number of home runs during this sprint as compared to the marathon. Regardless, these will be the Bronx Bombers and constructed to win in a realigned division with the cross-town Mets, Red Sox, Tampa Bay, Miami, Baltimore, and the Marlins.
Regional play has put the Yankees in good position, though a challenge is that difficult schedule with 10 games against each American League East opponent. The remaining games are against the National League East, the lone division that had four teams over .500 last year.
The sprint concludes with a stretch of games against Toronto, Baltimore, and the Marlins which is considered easy. Though in this sprint anything is possible even if you are the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Marlins.
Basically, there is no room to come out of this sprint with a losing streak and have that ability to play catch up as would be the norm. On the other hand, and the Yankees have that ability, a winning streak out of the gate puts them in good position and not have to make up games in the standings.
“ They are capable of winning 35 or more games and taking the division,” said an AL insider. “There are no flaws with this team, 162 games or 60.”
So without Aroldis Chapman to begin, on the COVID-19 injured list, the Yankees are sitting good in the bullpen and with the rule change of starting extra innings with a man on second.
This is a bullpen, righty or lefty, capable of getting the essential out in this extra inning drama, added with a sole purpose of cutting the length of games due to COVID-19 and a toll on the pitching staff.
Right-hander David Hale, a non roster invitee, stands a chance to be a part of that expanded bullpen after throwing 2-⅔ of scoreless innings in the Yankees last of their exhibition games against the Phillies Monday night.
And it appears that Left-hander Zach Britton will be the closer for the time being. Tuesday, manager Aaron Boone and his coaching staff were evaluating who will be a part of the 30-man roster that will begin this spring.
Tuesday, Boone announced that prospect Michael King has made the opening day roster. King, from the Marlins system has thrown some good innings in this Summer camp and his fastball was impressive Saturday. and struck out the Mets’ Pete Alonso.
He gets the nod over Clarke Schmidt, another rookie with no big league experience. Schmidt is not ruled out of the equation and will get more experience with the taxi squad.
Deivi Garcia, the Yankees’ No. 3 prospect allowed four hits and two two walks on 46 pitches against the Phillies Monday night in the Bronx. The Right-hander will also report to Scranton and is not ruled out of that equation at some point.
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery, on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery, was optioned to the Yankees alternative training site in Scranton, a surprise after showing a good fastball and was in the mix for the Opening Day roster.
But the Yankees have that depth in the rotation to fill a void, Montgomery, as they await the return of Tanaka.
“Potentially, I feel like we understand which direction we’re going at least initially, and we’ll adjust from there,” Boone said.
It’s no secret, and with a team full of depth, 60-games to account for, you need to take your best with a remaining part of this core on standby as a taxi squad in Scranton. There is no minor league system in this unusual season of 2020.
Boone reminds his team about coming up short against the Astros in October. It was a reminder also of the 60-game sprint that presents an interesting challenge for 29 other teams.
Monday, though, in that last tuneup game, the Yankees starting lineup was on the field. Besides, Judge in right and batting second, Stanton was the DH at cleanup. Aaron Hicks in center and had that extra recovery time from Tommy John surgery to be at full strength.
Gleyber Torres at short and in the third spot,. Sanchez follows Hicks. Luke Voit at first follows. Brett Gardner, the veteran follows in left and Gio Urshela at third. That leaves Miguel Andujar and Mike Tauchman off the bench in all probability for now and probable roles as the DH.
Not bad at all. The Yankees have more of that lefty-righty punch. Mike Ford, another, when talking depth, adds to that left handed hitting that has been a flaw for this team and showed last season.
Oh, DJ LeMahieu. He’s good to go, according to Boone. LeMahieu, a late arrival due to a positive COVID test, gets on base. He is the table setter and finished fourth in the AL MVP vote last year.
Yes, these Yankees are well equipped and ready to go. They were ready in March when baseball shut down due to the Coronavirus.
The mindset, win and run a streak out of the gate. Be one of the last two to stand in late October. They can finish the job in this baseball season of unusual circumstances. Now, with Opening Day approaching we all hope this wait will not see another resumption.
That same insider said, “Nice to see baseball. It’s better than nothing,” That applies to the Yankees for 161 or 60 games. But it’s not an accomplishment in the Bronx, unless they get that World Series trophy.
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