Opening Week Thoughts: The Good and Bad
By Derek McAdam
The 2021 season is underway for the New York Yankees, going 3-3 in their first six games against Toronto and Baltimore. Many things have happened in this first week, which I will discuss in the article.
First, pitching has been excellent. The Yankees have not allowed more than four runs in a game in their first six games and have done a fabulous job of keeping the games close when the Yankees were trailing. There has not been a single pitcher who performed terribly, although some have not performed as well as others.
There is no doubt that the pitching staff is not going to keep this consistency all season long, but it is a fantastic start to the season.
Second, Gleyber Torres’ defense is a concern. On Opening Day, Teoscar Hernandez beat out a simple play that Torres should have made. Torres also made a costly mistake in the top of the 10th in Wednesday night’s game as he short-hopped a throw to first, which got past Jay Bruce and scored the go-ahead run.
The problem with Torres is that he was a shortstop prospect whose development was stunned after the move to second base. At the time, the Yankees had Didi Gregorius when Torres was called up in 2018.
Brian Cashman has shown a lot of patience when it comes to his high prospects. His patience has to be coming to an end.
The Yankee offense has made me scratch my head several times to begin the season. It’s only six games and I don’t want to be too critical, but the Yankees could easily be 5-1 if they did not leave so many runners on base.
The Yankees had the bases loaded twice with no outs in Tuesday night’s game. In the first inning, the first three batters got on base and the next three batters struck out. In the bottom of the fourth, DJ LeMahieu grounded into a double play, but got a run in, while the Yankees would score a couple more runs in the inning.
On Opening Day, the Yankees were 0-for-9 with RISP and left 10 men on base. This game went to extra innings and would not have gone there if the Yankees even went 1-for-9 with RISP.
Wednesday night’s game did not differ much. The Yankees left 12 men on base and lost in 11 innings. Torres may have hurt the Yankees in extra innings, but the game should not have even gone there if they didn’t leave all those players on base.
I was also interested to see that Bruce did not lay down several bunts when the shift was on. At one time, Toronto played four outfielders and all three infielders were between first and second. Why not lay down a bunt towards third base? Instead, he struck out swinging.
Again, it’s early in the season and I don’t want to be too critical, but some things need pointing out. Sometimes it’s best to just cut down on the swing and take the easier approach to hit instead of swinging for the fences.
It would not be a Yankee season if there weren’t injuries within the first week, and Aaron Judge is the man to be concerned with. Aaron Boone described the injury as “general soreness” on his left side and left him out of the lineup Wednesday as a precaution.
The problem is that Boone was not confident that Judge would be ready to go for tonight’s game against the Rays after an off-day yesterday and did not rule out medical scans.
Through the first week, I have taken it day-by-day hoping that none of the players get hurt. Hopefully, this is just a little pain that Judge is going through and can be ready to go by either this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon’s game.
As noted above, the Yankees will play Tampa this weekend in a three-game series and will travel to Dunedin to play Toronto for a three-game set. Toronto is playing at least their first three homesteads at their Spring Training facility due to the travel restrictions in Canada but intends on playing some games in Buffalo once the weather warms up. They hope to return to Rogers Centre at some point this season.
Nonetheless, we have another exciting week of baseball ahead and hopefully, the Yankees can turn things around.