New York Yankees make progress in series victory over Cleveland, but still have a long ways to go

yankees, gerrit cole
Apr 1, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of an opening day game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After three weeks of absolute dismal play to open the season, the New York Yankees finally started to click this weekend in Cleveland, taking three out of four games with the Indians. The team certainly didn’t play like what their full potential is, but after the start they got off to, this weekend was major progress.

Most importantly, the Yankees began to swing the bats a lot better. The team hit nine home runs over four games, including two each from Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Rougned Odor. Kyle Higashioka added a home run on Thursday, while Gio Urshela and Mike Ford went back-to-back in Sunday’s matinee loss. In this age of baseball, you aren’t going to win MLB games without hitting home runs, and that was the offensive catalyst missing in the first 17 games of the season.

In addition to more home runs hit, we started to see guys finding gaps and getting extra bases on offense. Gleyber Torres made solid contact all series and even picked up three hits on Thursday night. Hicks is also beginning to look a lot more comfortable on both sides of the plate as his home run on Saturday came from the left side, the side of the plate he’s had the most problems with.

The Yankee offense is starting to get into a rhythm and is slowly showing signs of becoming the lethal offense that they were hyped up to be. Problems do still remain, such as the struggles with Clint Frazier and Gary Sanchez. However, both have had good at-bats of late and both seem as if they could break out soon.

On the defensive side of things, the Yankees have looked a lot sharper recently. They aren’t kicking balls around in the outfield, and Gleyber Torres is making great plays at shortstop. Mike Ford has provided a defensive boost at first base, as just about anyone else is a better option than Jay Bruce there.

The bullpen has remained strong all season, but the main pitching improvement we’ve seen lately is in the rotation. Both Domingo German and Jordan Montgomery bounced back from rough first innings on Thursday and Friday, respectively, to each turn in decent starts. Jameson Taillon pitched three near-flawless innings on Sunday before imploding in the fourth inning, and Gerrit Cole was as sharp as ever against reigning Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber on Saturday.

Overall, things are looking up for the Yankees. With a 9-12 record, the Yankees head to Baltimore for a four-game set with the Orioles. Following that, New York returns home to host the Detroit Tigers for three games. Winning less than six of the next seven games should be a disappointment for the Yankees.

Afterward, things get a little fun for the Yankees. The Houston Astros return to New York for the first time since their cheating scandal was uncovered, and then the Washington Nationals follow into town as a potential Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole match-up looms.

As the Yankees seem on the verge of fully getting out of their early-season slump, they have the right combination of opponents ahead to finally get firing on all cylinders.