The Yankees will be grateful for the full 162-game season this year because their start has been rough by anyone’s standards, let alone a team tipped as a potential contender.
Second favorites at +700 behind the defending Dodgers (+350) per the MLB odds on bet365 to win the World Series, the Yankees had high hopes for this campaign.
But a string of below-par performances have left them drifting at the wrong end of the division, leaving Aaron Boone wondering where to start with a side that has issues just about everywhere except the bullpen.
Most egregious for the Bronx Bombers has surely been the offensive struggles. After finishing first and second in the league for home runs in their last two full campaigns in 2018 and 2019, the Yankees are merely hovering around the top ten early in this young season. The wider picture is even worse, with their .210/.306/.362 slash line the third-worst mark in the league behind only the anemic offenses of the Cubs and Tigers.
No one man is to blame for the hits going AWOL, but certain names stick out on the stat sheet. Aaron Hicks (.153) has got off to a miserable start by his standards, while Gleyber Torres went without a home run in his first 81 at-bats to start 2021.
Giancarlo Stanton leads the ball club in homers and RBIs, but in slashing only .205/.271/.462, he puts himself at risk of a career-worst season if things don’t turn around soon.
How 'bout a game of Kluball? ? pic.twitter.com/GqbD5JY7G3
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 28, 2021
There are signs of optimism on the horizon, however. Take the April 28 win over Baltimore, in which Corey Kluber pitched like Corey Kluber on his way to a first win of the season. Stanton and Aaron Judge both homered in that 5-1 win, the kind of sight Yankees fans were dreaming of when Stanton first swapped his Marlins outfit for pinstripes in 2018. More performances like that – and in Judge’s case that usually just means staying healthy – and the tough start to the season will become ancient history.
With Kluber starting to play up to his reputation, this Yankee rotation could have the rugged staying power it was tipped to have during the offseason. Much of the early discourse has revolved around the pitching staff looking thin behind Gerrit Cole – if the Yankees’ other preseason addition in Jameson Taillon can turn his season around, it will take the pressure off a defense that has been uncharacteristically shaky so far. Former Pirates starter Taillon has a 6.23 ERA to start the season but, like Kluber, is still working his way back from injury.
Voit Back in Practice
That the Yankees will need to get the bats going quickly goes without saying. A return for Luke Voit would be a much-needed boost, with Boone predicting that the first baseman could be back in action as early as mid-May. Historically a .291 hitter in pinstripes, Voit’s production could be the jolt this Yankees side need to keep pace with the division.
Fortunately, their rivals have not been red-hot to start the season either, with both Tampa Bay and Toronto hovering around .500. Early runaway division leaders Boston have played better than their line-up suggested it might in preseason, but it remains to be seen if their good form will last any longer than the Yankees’ early-season struggles.
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