On Thursday, Mar 28, that all changes as the New York Yankees begin their 2019 campaign with a three game series against the Baltimore Orioles.
The division rivals had an atrocious 2018 season, going 47-115, obviously finishing last in the AL East, 61 games off the pace set by the Boston Red Sox. The O’s had Manny Machado for more than half of that year, but he is now on the San Diego Padres, so there is little talent present anywhere in that lineup. The Opening Day starter for Baltimore is supposedly none other than Alex Cobb, who sported a 5-15 record last year, but he injured his groin in Spring Training, so he may not be able to go. That means someone like Andrew Cashner (4-15) could get the start.
Regardless of the brave soul that takes the mound for the Orioles in the bottom of the 1st, the Yankees MUST take advantage of their easy games against the Orioles this year.
Furthermore, the Yankees need to take advantage of their easy schedule this year. According to TeamRankings.com, the Yankees have the second-easiest schedule this season. Also, they only play the Red Sox twice in before the month of May.
While some fans disregard the beginning of the season as “unimportant,” the way the Yankees come out of the gate could be very representative of how their season will turn out.
In 2003, the Yankees made the World Series after their best start to a season ever, going 18-3. In fact, the Yankees six best starts all resulted in trips to the Fall Classic, four resulting in a ring (1928, 33-7; 1939, 33-7; 1959, 23-5; 1998, 23-6).
Getting out to a hot start can propel this team to another trip to postseason baseball and hopefully bring a 28th championship to New York. Contrary to popular belief, these early games do matter! Yes, there is more time to make up ground if the team stumbles out of the gate, but it would be unfortunate if the Yankees miss the divisional crown by one game because they could not close out an early game against the Orioles.
The Yankees cannot allow the losses to pile up in April and May, especially if you consider their weaker schedule and the team their competing with for first place, the defending World Series Champions.
Even though the Yankees are dealing with a few injuries, their bullpen and positional versatility could propel them to a hot start amid the cold, rainy conditions in the Bronx.
They will have to tread water in the outfield with Brett Gardner until Aaron Hicks comes back from injury. Also, their rotation will be without Luis Severino, their 2018 ace. However, their juggernaut bullpen can eat up some of the lost innings and also the Yankees young arms such as Luis Cessa and Domingo German have shown potential.
Get excited! It is time for real, meaningful baseball…and these games could mean a lot when it comes to the playoff push.
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons, US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy M. Call