In case anyone needs reminding, the Yankees 2015 season ended on quite the sour note, as the Bronx Bombers were beaten in a one game playoff at home by the Houston Astros in disheartening fashion. The offense was completely shut down by Astros ace LHP Dallas Keuchel ( while the Yankees de-facto ace, Masahiro Tanaka, was solid but definitely not dominant.
Now, six months later, the stage is set for a rematch as (weather permitting) the Yankees will face the Houston Astros and Keuchel tomorrow afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The stakes are, obviously, not as high and the cast of characters is slightly changed (4th OF Aaron Hicks will slot into the starting lineup in lieu of either Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury instead of 4th OF Chris Young) but it’s nice that the fates have aligned to give the Yankees a chance to right the wrongs of their last game of the 2015 season.
Better still, they get to do this over a three game set. The way baseball is meant to be played. Survival of the team best put together for the long haul. Which is not to say I have any issue with the one game Wild Card play in game. I think it’s fair and, if teams don’t like it, they should win the division.
Nevertheless, this 2016 Yankees team, much like the 2015 Yankees, are a team that’s built to win two out of three in a series. They might not destroy their opponent in the 1st game but they can still wear a starting pitcher down and get into the bullpen, a strategy that has implications in games 2 and 3. With powerful, albeit aging, sluggers, they can also have a breakout inning against a mediocre pitcher that can carry the game on occasion.
That’s what this Yankees team is going to have to do to have a successful 2016 season. There will be injuries, there will be age related rest days (for older position players and younger starters) and there will be some slumps. Truth be told, there will also be some bruised egos to soothe. (Personally, I think both Ellsbury and Gardner should start tomorrow. Even if Hicks goes 4-for-4 and the Yankees win the game, given the salaries and clubhouse status of Ellsbury and Gardner, benching one of them could be detrimental to the overall team.)
The bottom line is that they will have to find ways to win over the long haul. It all starts this afternoon. Yankees vs. Astros, the rematch. Caps on Yankees fans. Get ready for the ride.