Opening series impressions & notes

Ouch. After an exciting spring training dominated by their young players, the Yankees stumbled out of the gate, dropping their first series to the Rays down in Tampa. With that series finished and with the team on their way to Baltimore for a weekend showdown with the Orioles here are some thoughts and notes.

Photo Credit: Chris O'Meara/AP Photo


They left their bats at The Boss


Although it was likely a short trip from George M. Steinbrenner Field to Tropicana Field, the Yankees’ bats did not make it. Many of the hitters who had strong spring performances struggled through the first series and made these games very difficult to watch. Players like Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge ,who batted .451, .373 and .333 respectively this spring, posted batting averages of .083, .071 and ,167 this series. It is not just on the young players though as the team as a whole is batting just .248 with a .292 OBP. Chase Headley was the only standout with seven hits, two RBI and 11 total bases through three games. He even hit his first home run of the season, something he did not do until early May last season. An improved performance by Headley at the plate this season would be a big boost to the club and would definitely take some pressure off of the young guys. The bats will wake up eventually but overall it was a very dreary series at the plate for the Bombers.

Photo Credit: Chris O'Meara/AP Photo
Starters down, Bullpen up

For a team that came into this season with concerns about their rotation, this series did very little to ease them. The longest outing they got was by CC Sabathia and he lasted just five innings, although he did shut out the Rays through those five. Masahiro Tanaka was very disappointing on opening day, lasting just 2.2 innings and giving up seven runs. Now, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about this outing going forward because Tanaka was very good last year and very good in spring training. Tanaka is a rhythm pitcher and once he settles into a groove he will probably be what we all expect. Michael Pineda was unfortunately very much the same pitcher we saw last year. He lasted just 3.2 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs. Pineda struck out six batters but was plagued by the same ineffectiveness with finishing innings as last season. He allowed two run scoring hits with two outs in the second inning and allowed five hits in that inning alone. The Yankees will move on to the Orioles where all eyes will be on Luis Severino Friday night. It would be great for both Severino and the Yankees if he were to go out there and deliver a good start.

Photo Credit: Chris O'Meara/AP Photo
The Yankees’ starters may have been disappointing but the team did get great work out of the bullpen. They were asked to pitch a lot of innings this series, which is something that we can only hope will not continue. Through three games they have performed well as many people expected them to. So far the bullpen has pitched 13.2 innings and posted a zero ERA with 17 strikeouts, just four walks and a 11.20 K/9 average. The Yankees bullpen has gotten a lot of attention for their “Big three” and those three have been good as expected but they have assembled a talented blend of arms that could serve them well this season. They will almost certainly add to this group with some highly touted Triple A arms throughout the season but at first glance this bullpen group appears as though it will be able to give Joe Girardi length when necessary and perform at a high level as the year goes on.

Other notes
After Thursday's off day, The Yankees have three more off days for the month of April which seems like a lot. An off day after opening day and another following the first series is pretty unnecessary if you ask me, but it is what it is.

The Yankees farm system is more loaded than it has been in a long time so you should be able to go anywhere and catch a good game but the Trenton Thunder should be a fun team to watch at the beginning of this season. There are high profile names such as Gleybar Torres, Miguel Andujar, Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield on the roster with other intriguing ones such as Billy McKinney, J.P. Feyereisen, Domingo German and Yefry Ramirez there as well. With a roster like that it may be worth a road trip to Arm & Hammer Park early this season before some of them start to move around the system.
Photo Credit: Matt Rourke/AP Photo
Despite all the optimism around the Yankees’ farm system, there was a bit of unfortunate news that broke Thursday afternoon. The Yankees placed RHP James Kaprielian on the minor league DL with pain in his elbow and he is undergoing tests. The Yankees are very high on Kaprielian but they have to be concerned with this development, especially after he missed most of last season with arm troubles.

Somewhat non Yankee related for the last one, but it has been reported that Derek Jeter is interested in being a part of a group to buy the Miami Marlins. Jeter has expressed interest in getting into ownership in the past and with a home in Florida and a team that seems to be desperate for a culture change, getting a guy like Derek in there may be exactly what they need no matter how strange it would be for all of us.  

That’s all for me right now. Make sure you are coming back to the site regularly for series previews and game recaps after every game.

Article by Matt Graziano
Follow: @mattgraz930
Follow: @BronxBomberBall

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