New York Yankees lead the Grapefruit League, here’s the season outlook

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole
Feb 12, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws during a bullpen session as pitchers and catchers report for spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees Grapefruit League start has gone pretty well; they lead the league with 13 wins. The only team to equal is the Kansas City Royals of the Cactus League that plays in Arizona. That has to be pretty encouraging for the Royals as they haven’t been a very good team in the last few years. For the Yankees, it’s expected that they should be near the top.  Here are the Grapefruit East standings:

  1. New York Yankees – 13 wins
  2. Toronto Blue Jays – 11 wins
  3. Boston Red Sox – 10 wins
  4. Baltimore Orioles – 7 wins
  5. Tampa Bay Rays – 7 wins

The Kansas City Royals are almost the opposite of the Yankees. In 2018 and 2019, the Royal lost a hundred or more games while the Yankees won 100 or more. What is so exciting for the Yankees is that the Yankees gutted their pitching staff over the offseason, letting Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ walk into free agency. That is the most major change in the Yankees pitching staff this decade.

The risk in rebuilding the pitching staff is that you are entering the unknown after having 100 and 103 game-winning seasons and a 33 win season in the 2020 shortened season. Although not leading to a championship, one must keep in mind that those wins were accomplished with unprecedented injuries. This spring, they are on top and, for the most part, healthier than they have been in three years.

With just a week remaining (8 games) and Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 1st., the Yankees find themselves almost gitty over their new pitching staff. Domingo German leads the pack with an ERA of 0.00 over 9 innings, 5 hits (none homers), and 13 strikeouts. After not playing for more than a season, the New York Yankees have to be delighted with his performance, almost assuring him of the rotation’s anchor role.

Behind German is newly traded for Jameson Taillon, also with a 0.00 ERA in 5.2 innings with 4 hits and 9 strikeouts. Taillon hasn’t pitched in almost 2 years, coming back from his second Tommy John surgery. Jordan Montgomery has a 0.90 ERA over 10 innings. Deivi Garcia has pitched the most innings at a11. He has an ERA of 1.64. Corey Kluber, who also hasn’t pitched full seasons in either of the last two, has an ERA of 3.00. Yankee ace Gerrit Cole is 3-0 with a slightly elevated ERA of 3.55 after a dominant display yesterday in Dunedin, Florida against the Toronto Blue Jays. He will also face the same Jays on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.

Analyzing this, the New York Yankees have a near-dominant starting rotation. What makes this even more exciting is the depth behind them. The shining star is undoubtedly Jonathan Loaisiga. “Johnny Lasagna” has an ERA of 0.87 over 10.1 innings with only 4 hits while striking out 8 and a tiny WHIP of 0.58. A big surprise has been the pitching of Lucas Luetge, who, other than getting pounded yesterday, has been one of the best of the Yankee relievers.

That brings us to the bullpen, who, for the most part, has been dissembled from last season. Gone are Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino. In the beginning, Zack Britton will miss several weeks presenting some challenges for a once-best in baseball bullpen. But this bullpen has a good chance of being as good or maybe even better, with the addition of Darren O’Day giving a different look to the bullpen. Lucas Luetge could be impactful for the group. With the bullpen depth is also a factor, the Yankees have seven other relievers with an ERA of 0.00. Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman with his new splitter will also be impactful.

Overall the New York Yankees have to be tickled pink with their pitching in this spring training. And, not to worry about Gerrit Cole with his higher than expected ERA; he often tries different things during the spring and then goes with his best stuff in the regular season. It also has to be noted that this is spring training and may or may not reflect how the team will play when it counts, but it sure looks promising.

The team also has had very few errors on the field. The hitting has dragged a bit behind the pitching, garnering up a run or two in several games. This also is not surprising; it often takes players like Aaron Judge a few games to get the timing right. Yesterday the hitting erupted in their win over the Toronto Blue Jays with 12 hits and 8 runs scored with one home run. The Yankees have one of the strongest lineups in the game.

The New York Yankees seem destined to make a strong run for a 28th World Championship in 2021. With good pitching and good hitting, as in most years, keeping the pitchers and hitters healthy will be key. For the last three years, the Yankees have only had limited time with both Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge on the field at the same time. If those two boys can stay healthy and with the batting champ DJ LeMahieu, home run leader Luke Voit, and a rebounding Gleyber Torres in the lineup, there will be no stopping the Yankees.

Tonight at George M. Steinbrenner Field the New York Yankees face Joe Girardi’s Philadelphia Phillies. The 6:35 pm start will feature Jameson Taillon pitching for the Yankees and Aaron Nola for the Phillies. The game will be broadcast on the YES Network and will be called by the iconic duo of Michael Kay and John Sterling.