The New York Yankees collected their eighth spring training win against the Detroit Tigers on Friday afternoon. Emerging victorious 4–3, the Bombers did just enough, scoring a late run courtesy of Anthony Seigler to push them over the hump.
Having started Friday learning that center fielder Harrison Bader would likely begin the regular season on the injured list, the Yankees at least had a few positives to walk away with heading into the weekend.
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Good news for the Yankees:
On the afternoon, the Yankees collected five hits but struck out 15 times, with three batters striking out twice. DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Hicks, and Estevan Florial all tallied two apiece. Florial has had a dismal spring, hitting .150 with a .227 OBP, all but losing the position battle for the starting left-field job.
Hicks hasn’t been much better, hitting .278 with a .278 OBP, leaving several men on base with an opportunity to put some runs on the board. However, the Yankees had a surprise performance from Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who tallied two hits and two RBIs across three at-bats. He recorded a two-run homer at the top of the 4th inning, driving in Rafael Ortega.
Ortega has been tremendous this spring, posting a run and walk across two at-bats. He’s hitting .250 with a .500 OBP and a .917 slugging percentage. Not many people are discussing Ortega as a viable option in LF, but they should be, considering Hicks continues to struggle and likely won’t put together a campaign reminiscent of his 2019 self.
As for the team’s pitching, Luis Severino gave up two earned runs across 4.0 innings, both of which came via homers. Severino has struggled this spring but has slowly improved with each appearance, which is certainly a good sign ahead of the regular season.
Expect Sevy to get a few more opportunities over the next three weeks, hopefully ironing out any deficiencies as he works through his throwing program. Jhony Brito also looked solid across 3.0 innings, with his lone mistake being a home run. He gave up four hits and struck out three batters but showcased his ability to be a long-inning option out of the bullpen.
Relief pitcher James Norwood posted two strikeouts over 1.0 inning, lowering his ERA to 2.25 this spring, making a push to land on the 26-man roster. Despite Norwood’s performance, he’s a likely Triple-A Scranton candidate who could be called up to help if the team needs to supplement any injuries.
Overall, the Yankees certainly enjoyed a few positives, but I would be remiss not to mention Carlos Narvaez and Anthony Seigler, two of the team’s young catching prospects. Narvaez tallied a run and a walk; Seigler drove in the winning run at the top of the 9th inning.
Bad news for the Yankees:
We hinted at some of the negatives earlier in the article. Notably, Aaron Hicks struck out twice, and Florial is playing his way off the roster. The Yankees are fighting back injuries and already have to supplement several starting pitchers, specifically Frankie Montas and Carlos Rodon.
Offensively, the team struck out far too many times in Friday’s win, escaping at the will of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, which is a rarity.
Over the next few weeks, we should keep a close eye on the left-field position battle since Oswaldo Cabrera continues to be used as a utility piece. Manager Aaron Boone indicated that Cabrera is still in the mix for the left field job, but with Bader going down and the team wanting to get him more reps in the infield, it’s rounding out to be a murky situation.