Series Preview: NYY vs. Bal 4/5-4/7
Well that stunk. The Yankees got their season underway with a series loss against the Blue Jays this weekend. While their pitching was very solid and left reasons for optimism, it was a very frustrating weekend of hitting to watch. For most of the weekend, the Yankees had a lot of traffic on the bases, but were not able to cash in time and time again. The hits and the RBIs will eventually come but until then, lets look at what the Yankees have coming up.
Game 1: Monday, April 5 | First Pitch: 6:35pm | TV: YES Network
Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 5.11 ERA)** vs. Jorge López (2-2, 6.69 ERA)**
Game 2: Tuesday, April 6| First Pitch: 6:35pm | TV: YES Network
Gerrit Cole (0-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. Dean Kremer (1-1, 4.82 ERA)**
Game 3: Wednesday, April 7 | First Pitch: 6:35pm | TV: YES Network, MLB Network
Jameson Taillon (2-3, 4.10 ERA)* vs. John Means (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
* 2019 Stats
** 2020 Stats
This series will mark the season debut for two Yankees starters in Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon. Montgomery is the lone lefty in the starting rotation this season and while his numbers from last season don’t look great, there is reason for optimism coming into his season debut. He dropped 15 pounds and is in much better shape this season. He was very sharp this spring, pitching to a 3-0, 0.90 ERA line. Montgomery has called CC Sabathia one of his mentors in the past, and he has said that both Sabathia and Yankees lefty legend Andy Pettitte helped him to develop and master a cutter that he feels took a step forward for him this spring. Montgomery has said he also worked hard this winter to further develop his changeup. Montgomery will never blow anyone away with velocity, so how he locates and uses the movement on these pitches as well as his fastball offerings will be key for his success this season. He faces a good first test against a Baltimore team that looked strong sweeping the Red Sox this weekend.
|Credit: NY Post Charles Wenzelberg|
Game two will see Gerrit Cole make his second start of the season. Cole was ok in his opening day turn, throwing 5.1 innings and allowing 2 runs. Cole has been somewhat of a slow starter in his career and coupled with the raw, cold weather at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, he didn’t seem fully comfortable. Still he gutted it out and kept the Yankees in the game, ultimately getting a no decision. Gerrit was 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA against the O’s last season, but this Orioles team has gotten off to a strong start and looks energized so far this season. Kremer is listed as the Oriole’s seventh best prospect and made his major league debut last September. He made two starts against the Yankees last season, going 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA.
Game 3 will see the much anticipated Yankee debut of Jameson Taillon. Taillon was the Yankees big trade acquisition this winter. He has not pitched in a regular season game since May 1st 2019, when he was forced to undergo Tommy John Surgery for the second time in his career. Taillon is feeling very confident heading into this season after he spent the winter transforming his throwing motion. His focus was engaging his lower body more and cleaning up his arm path to reduce stress. So far his results have been encouraging, with a 1-1, 1.08 ERA spring training line. Taillon will square off against John Means, who dominated the Red Sox this weekend. Means has pitched well against the Red Sox in his career, adding seven, one hit innings to that the other day. He has not pitched well against the Yankees his career to this point, with a 1-2 record and 7.17 ERA. This will be an intriguing match up to watch for both teams.
What to Watch For:
RISP Fails – In their opening series against the Blue Jays, the Yankees went 4-24 with runners in scoring position. If you watched the games, you know how frustrating it was. While they weren’t tearing the cover off the balls, they were working walks and had traffic on the bases but weren’t able to get them home. One of the bigger culprits of this was Aaron Judge, who grounded into two double plays and stranded several base runners. The bats will eventually come alive but there is reason for concern heading into a series against an Orioles team that outscored the Red Sox 18-5 in a three game sweep. The Yankees at-bats in these situations will need to improve.
The Return of Chappy – Any day now we should see the season debut of Aroldis Chapman. Chapman sat out the first two games of this season to serve his two game suspension for the dust up with the Rays last season and was not used on Sunday. While Chapman has long been known for his electric fastball, he has worked to diversify his offerings as he has aged. His fastball is still is best pitch, but the days of consistently throwing 103+ are likely gone. When he doesn’t have a feel for his fastball, we have seen him throw a lot of sliders. It is a very good offering but we have a new pitch to look out for this season, a splitter. Chapman said he used to throw it back when he was a starter and it reappeared last September and continued throughout spring training. Chapman is looking to become more of a “pitcher” as his age advances and this pitch could be devastating in an already plus arsenal.
Aroldis Chapman, Filthy Splitter. 😷 pic.twitter.com/GdWeP45txT— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 11, 2021
Homers, or lack thereof – A lot has been written about the Yankees deep and intimidating lineup. While we believe that they will eventually turn it on and prove a lot of the talk correct, it didn’t happen this weekend against the Jays. For all the Yankees home run hitting ability, the lone Yankee to leave the yard this past weekend was the oft criticized Gary Sanchez, who did so twice. While the Yankees have plenty of talented hitters and will not struggle to score runs in a variety of ways, they will likely score most of them via the longball. It was a very difficult series for some, such as Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge and others such as Giancarlo Stanton and Jay Bruce were up and down. The Yankees that did hit like Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, weren’t able to get them to leave the yard, but its not a question of if but when and there’s no time like the present for this Yankees lineup.
Bullpen vs. Bullpen – While the Yankees series against the Jays consisted of three closely contested games, the Orioles dominated theirs against the Red Sox with an onslaught of pitching and timely hitting. The Yankees hope that their bats start to come alive soon but they were able to keep their games close due to their pitching. Domingo German turned in the only disappointing performance of the weekend but he was bailed out with six shutout innings from Michael King. Altogether, the Yankees bullpen has thrown 14.2 innings and allowed 1 ER. That bullpen is adding Aroldis Chapman and will soon add Justin Wilson and eventually Zack Britton. While the Orioles starters were superb this weekend, their bullpen was equally as impressive, allowing zero ER in 8.1 IP so far. The Yankees have generally had their way with the Orioles in recent years, but this O’s team has been injected with youth and energy and should not be taken for granted. If they aren’t able to get to the Orioles starters in these games, what they see out of the bullpen may surprise them.
Article by Matt GrazianoFollow @mattgraz930