The Yankees have started 2-1, taking two of three games from the San Francisco Giants in their opening series. Albeit a small sample, let’s talk about some takeaways from the weekend.
Ron Marinaccio Will Be Key Early On
The Yankees’ bullpen is one of the best bullpens in baseball, boasting names like Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, Michael King and Jonathan Loaisiga. But Marinaccio is slated to play a pivotal role early this season.
Marinaccio had a strong Spring, striking out 15 in 7.1 innings while not allowing a homer. That has seemingly carried over into April, as in 3.1 innings he has struck out six batters while walking just one and not allowing a hit. He showed his versatility by going two scoreless on Opening Day as well.
The Yankees’ rotation is thin, and they aren’t likely to get tons of length from the arms in their current rotation. Clarke Schmidt struggled after going once through the Giants’ lineup Saturday and Nestor Cortes might still be nursing a hamstring injury.
That means the Yankees’ bullpen will be taxed early in the season, which is always less-than-ideal, but Marinaccio is showing encouraging signs and will be a key part of keeping the bullpen rested through an early high-usage phase.
Anthony Volpe is the Perfect Nine Hitter
I’m not one to usually care about lineup construction, but Anthony Volpe showed his value at the bottom of the lineup this weekend. Pretty much any time he gets on base, he’s a good bet to steal a base. He’s been on base three times this season, and has stolen a base every time.
Having that threat before the top of the lineup adds a layer to the Yankees’ lineup that was lacking in 2022. He’s going to have his growing pains, but he adds an element of athleticism that the Yankees needed, especially with Harrison Bader on the IL.
It’s Gerrit Cole’s Cy Young to Lose
File this one under ‘major overreaction,’ but Gerrit Cole is off to a great start. And yes, one of our big predictions on last week’s podcast was Gerrit Cole winning AL Cy Young this season.
Does it help that he threw six scoreless innings while striking out 11 batters in his first start of the season? Absolutely. But Cole is going to have to carry this staff through the early part of this season, and he seems poised to do just that.
His name has, for whatever reason, fallen out of the conversation when it comes to top starters. After all, some top ten lists this off-season didn’t include him at all. That’ll change after this year.
Power, Power, Power
Hit the ball out of the ballpark. That has been, and will continue to be, the Yankees’ motto. They’ve smacked seven in their first three games, two of those coming from Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.
It might not be the prettiest brand of baseball, but it’s going to have to be one that works for this team. The recipe is simple. Get the big hit early and rely on the bullpen to close it down on the back end.
Keep an Eye on D.J LeMahieu
Perhaps the biggest negative, or concern, from this weekend was D.J LeMahieu. LeMahieu got Sunday off, but in his his first nine plate appearances this season he has struck out five times.
That’s a far cry from the LeMahieu that the Yankees have been accustomed to, so we’ll have to see if this is the start of a harsh decline for the 34-year-old or a blip on the radar as he returns from an injury.
Clay Holmes looked shaky in his first 2023 outing, Jhony Brito looked very nice in his first start, and Oswaldo Cabrera looked lost until finally recording two hits Sunday.
Aaron Hicks has been kept out of the starting lineup thus far, we’ll likely see him get a start in this upcoming series against the Phillies.