Yankees: 3 keys to taking down Toronto on Saturday

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber
Feb 21, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch at Yankees player development complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With high hopes entering the 2021 regular season, the New York Yankees threw up an unfortunate dud on Opening Day against the Toronto Blue Jays. With an entire 162 game campaign, we shouldn’t be worried about the Yankees’ future, as they are set to take on Toronto on Saturday afternoon once again.

However, reflecting on their Opening Day loss, the Yankees posted far too many strikeouts, totaling 13, with almost all of them coming at the beginning of the batting order. In fact, both Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton struck out three times, with Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Gio Urshela totaling two each.

The Yankee pitching wears solid, with Gerrit Cole lasting 5.1 innings and striking out eight batters. Aside from an unfortunate home run in a sixth inning, he looked stellar, finishing with a 3.38 ERA. The bullpen also was adequate, aside from Nick Nelson giving up a run in the 10th, but went on to strike out three batters afterward.

Three keys for the Yankees to take down Toronto on Saturday:

1.) Corey Kluber must last more than 4.0 innings

The Yankees invested in starting pitching this off-season, bringing in Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. Kluber is a former Cy Young winner — he’s had an interesting start to his Yankee career, having a few ups and downs this spring, but he is capable of being a fantastic starter moving forward. Kluber must last more than 4.0 innings to help the Yankees establish a firm lead before they have to rely on their bullpen. This is the first time Kluber has pitched in over a year, specifically in a regular-season contest, so he will certainly be jittery.

2.) Better hitting at the beginning of order

Again, the Yankees must be more efficient at the beginning of their batting order, with the top six hitters only recording two hits on Opening Day. Luckily, we know how this offense works, and one day they will struggle, and the next, they will put up double-digit runs. The strikeouts must come down significantly, as the bottom of the order actually performed adequately in comparison. We know how things shift in baseball, and hopefully, they’ve already forgotten about their Opening Day woes.

3.) Keep the strikeouts DOWN!

I just wanted to hammer this concept home, strikeouts will hurt the Yankees significantly, and while we know they rely on home runs primarily to win games, forfeiting strikeouts in the process, totaling 13 with 12 of them coming in the first six batters is unacceptable. I expect this to change course on Saturday afternoon, as the Yankees have too many quality hitters for this to be a consistent problem.