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Corey Kluber is the ace the Yankees need

Corey Kluber is the difference maker and impact arm the Yankees need atop their rotation.  In 2017 and 2018, Yankee fans wished ace-like status on Luis Severino, but his inconsistencies have left him just short of owning the name.  Kluber, 32, has been the definition of consistent for the Cleveland Indians, winning 18+ games four out of the last five years and winning 20 games in 2018 for the first time in his career. Kluber has posted an ERA below 3.50 every season since 2014, and has struck out at least 220 hitters in the same span. Kluber keeps getting better, and is not showing any signs of regression. Kluber is an ace, the ace the Yankees need.

Gary Sanchez is back

Don't look now, but the Kraken is back in full force.  Since his return to the lineup on May 5th in Chicago, Gary Sanchez has hit to a scorching .357 clip with two long home runs, eight runs batted in and boasts a ridiculous .471 on-base percentage.  Simply put, Gary is back. 

Photo Credit: Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

Many fans (myself included) may have started to wonder if Sanchez would ever get back to the player he was in August and early September of 2016.  Sanchez opened up the 2017 season with a paltry .150/.190/.300 slash line before hitting the disabled list on April 8th, which was a bit concerning following his strong spring training effort.  However, if you remember, Sanchez cooled off mightily at the end of 2016 season as well. 

After a two-for-four effort in a 9-0 loss to Toronto on September 23rd of last season, Gary sat at a cool .337/.413/.738 slash line but finished the year at .299/.376/.657.  Over the season's final eight games, Sanchez went just 2-for-33 (.069) with one home run, four runs batted in, and struck out 12 times.  His limp to the finish line might just have cost him the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year award. 

Of course, a small 13 game sample size isn't enough to pass judgment, but being the eternal pessimist I tend to be, I couldn't help but wonder if Gary's blazing hot start to his career was nothing more than another in the line of Yankees who have looked like future Hall of Famers early on, but ultimately fizzled out.  Here's looking at you, Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer. 

Thankfully, however, it appears that my worries were all for naught. Over the last two weeks since Sanchez has returned to the number two spot in the Yankees'  batting order, the team has gone 7-5, but more importantly, they are averaging 6.00 runs per game and have hit double digit runs scored on four separate occasions over that same 12 game spread.  El Gary has also provided great protection for Brett Gardner who continues to excel in the leadoff spot despite his early season struggles.  Sanchez's raw abilities were showcased in the home run he blasted off Jason Hammel on Tuesday (video below), as he appears to barely even swing, yet clears the center field wall with ease.

Even when Sanchez makes an out, he is tattooing the baseball.  I'm immediately reminded of his Opening Day line out off of Chris Archer which Statcast measured at 115.7 miles per hour, his game-ending line out double play in Cincinnati when he hit an absolute rocket, but right at Eugenio Suarez, as well as his first inning line out to Lorenzo Cain in left-center on Wednesday night that should have gone for a double 

Needless to say, #IAMGARY is back to being the player that so many pitchers feared facing last season, and that is a very good thing for a Yankees offense that was already second in Major League Baseball in scoring without him.  Despite the doubts that many of you may have shared with me a few weeks ago, Gary is in no way slowing down. Let's sit back and enjoy the ride. 

Article by:  Andrew Natalizio