LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Face Early Challenges With Season Under Way

Friday, April 7, 2017

Yankees Face Early Challenges With Season Under Way

The 2017 season has begun, and we are in the middle of six road games with AL East rivals Tampa Bay and Baltimore. The Yanks lost two of three against the Rays at their stadium, the one constructed with multiple catwalks in fair territory.  The series brought back memories of the Yankees inept play on the road in the AL East last year to the tune of an 11-27 record.

Will this dismal Eastern Division road ineptitude continue this weekend in Baltimore?

Inquiring minds want to know. Or maybe we wish the schedule makers had started the Yankees on the road at Cleveland, Minnesota or Oakland, where they were a combined 10-2 at those places last season.

Perhaps it is better to forget about last year. Last year doesn't really matter, right? This much we know after three games: Masahiro Tanaka can have a terrible start, once in awhile. CC Sabathia is far from done, and Michael Pineda can still show strong tendencies with 0 walks and 6 strikeouts in his first 3 2/3 innings, but some really bad overall results, because 3 2/3 innings is all he lasted giving up four runs on eight hits, taking another loss. Pineda, a free agent following the season, appears to be on his way to a new location in 2018, if not sooner. Can the Yankees find a taker at the July 31 deadline like they did last year for Ivan Nova? Sure, there should be no reason to overreact following one bad start, except the start is reminiscent of way too many of Pineda's  starts throughout his Yankee career.

The result of the first series is a 1-2 start to the season, with three games to follow in Baltimore beginning Friday. Friday's starter, Luis Severino needs to improve on last year's start of 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA before he was  removed from the rotation. Tanaka will start Saturday needing to improve on last Sunday's performance at Tampa Bay. Improving on Severino's start to the 2016 season or Tanaka's first start this season really isn't asking for much, because both were so bad, but quality starts are much needed this weekend in Baltimore.  

And so far, the hitting is anemic, especially the big three Baby Bombers, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge, who combined for a 4 for 38 series (.105).But can you believe Chase Headley, who didn't have an extra base hit until May 12 last year? He went 7 for 11 (.636)  with a double and home run at Tampa Bay.

And that is the key. It is just three games, one series, and the Yankees did win one game. So on to Baltimore they go with a nine game opening homestand right around the corner. There is plenty of time to correct  the early wrongs of the season. And if that doesn't work out, then we can start looking at the next wave of talent.

Which brings us to the minor league season and one particular game which might impact the Yankees in about ten days.

The minors leagues began their seasons Thursday, at least where the weather permitted, at Class A and at both Tampa and Charleston. The Yankees brass had the presence of mind to remove both Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green from their anticipated rained out northern starts, piggybacking them in Thursday night's game at Class A Tampa. Montgomery was the better of the two, pitching 5 innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits, one walk and nine strikeouts. Green allowed a ninth inning home run. the only run in 4 innings if work but he was saddled with the loss, 2-1. Both Green and Montgomery will make one more start April 11. presumably in class AA and AAA games and one of them is expected to start April 16 against St Louis on Sunday Night Baseball.

Welcome to the 2017 season Yankees fans. It appears it is going to be one with a lot of moving parts throughout the year.

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