Three keys to success for the 2017 Yankees

After finishing 84-78 in 2016, and fourth in the AL East, the new look Yankees will look to return to being perennial contenders. With loads of talent waiting in the minors and proven players on the major league squad, don’t be surprised if the Yankees sneak into the playoffs, like they did in 2015. If they want another playoff berth though, here are three keys to earning it.

Get more production, outside the trio, from the bullpen
Despite having Dellin Betances, and a combination of Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and Tyler Clippard throughout the 2016 season, the Yankees still were average as a whole, as they finished 16th in the majors in bullpen ERA. Betances surely went through slumps as the season went on, but he was still one of the top relievers in the game. Him returning to the setup role, rather than closing games, should prove beneficial for him, as he struggled mightily in that role last season.
Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg

With Chapman back and Clippard still on the team, the Yankees’ strength is once again the back end of their bullpen. One of the keys for the 2017 Yanks though is to get more production from guys like Jonathan Holder, Chasen Shreve, Tommy Layne, and others. Not only were those guys below-average, but they also didn’t help take any pressure off of Betances, who was used far too much last season. The Yankees also have Adam Warren, who was reacquired from the Chicago Cubs last season. After very good 2013-2015 seasons, Warren struggled with the Cubs in 2016, but seemed to regain confidence with the Yankees. His stint with the Cubs proved to be disastrous as he had a 5.91 ERA upon being traded, and he lowered his ERA to 4.68 on the season after pitching to a 3.26 ERA in 29 outings with the Yankees. These secondary guys to the trio will be very crucial to the Yankees playoff hopes.

Tanaka needs build off of his Cy-Young-like 2016 campaign
With a very weak free agent class and a rather pedestrian trade market, the Yankees had no choice but to stick with the current starting pitchers they have. Despite continuous struggles the past few seasons, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are going to have to pitch well this year. The ace of this team for multiple seasons now has been Masahiro Tanaka. Brought over from Japan on a lucrative contract, Tanaka has lived up to expectations thus far in the Bronx. The only downside has been his nagging injuries, which continue to be a worry of all Yankee fans.
Photo Credit: AP
Last season, Tanaka was very good throughout, finishing eighth in the AL Cy Young voting, despite being third in the league with a 3.07 ERA. His dominance helped keep the Yankees in the thick of the playoff race and if they want a shot again this season, Tanaka will need to avoid injuries and pitch like an ace once again, if not better. I know he struggled in yesterday's opening game, but it's a long season, and he has plenty of time to rebound after his poor outing.

Get back to being the Bronx Bombers
The 2016 season was a rocky one for the Yankees offense, as Carlos Beltran and Gary Sanchez were the saviors for an otherwise pedestrian offense. This offseason saw the Yanks bring in a lot of power, as they added veterans Matt Holliday and Chris Carter. Along with these two, the Yankees get Greg Bird back from injury and get a full season of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, who have great power potential. New York did get rid of catcher Brian McCann and say goodbye to the now retired Mark Teixeira, but they will not be lacking power this season.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
They also had their middle infielders each hit for 20 homers, as shortstop Didi Gregorius was the most consistent Yankees hitter all season and Starlin Castro proved to be a reliable starting second baseman in New York. Unfortunately, the Yankees will be without Gregorius for all of April, so they're going to need to get contribution from Ronald Torreyes.

The weakness to this offense will have to improve from last season in order to make the playoffs in 2017. That is, two outfielders Chase Headley. The two outfielders, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, were average hitters last season, not reaching base like they did a few seasons ago, despite playing excellent defense. Headley on the other hand, started off last season with Stephen Drew-esque numbers. His atrocity did get better, as he at least proved to be average in the last few months of the season. With this powerful lineup, average might be all they need from Chase Headley. This lineup full of youngsters and intriguing players will be interesting to watch as the season goes on, hoping they will get back to the old Bronx Bomber offenses.

Article by: Spencer Schultz


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