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Yankees Hot Corner – The good, the bad, and the ugly

New York splits opening series on the road.

The New York Yankees capped off their first series of the year with a four game split with the Toronto Blue Jays.  There were a lot of positives to build on, but what was thought as a strength turned out to be the Yanks’ biggest weakness in the bullpen.  In Aaron Boone’s first regular season tests, he passed the first two games and flunked the next two.  He is only four games into his tenure so he’s going to be given a pass (at least by some), but Boone needs to figure it out soon because a slow start to the season will have the diehard Yankee fans calling for his head.

The Good

Production at the bottom of the lineup

A lot has been made about how well the “murderer’s row” is going to be with the trio of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Giancarlo Stanton.  In the first series of the year, guys like Brandon Drury were the ones shining.  Tyler Austin had two home runs in a losing effort, Drury had a home run and was fantastic both at the dish and in the field, and Tyler Wade picked up a big hit after a rough start to the season.  The trio at the top may be the focal point, but if any of those three wind up slumping for a while, look for the young guys towards the bottom of the lineup to pick them up.

Didi Gregorius

Didi Gregorius seems to be the forgotten man on this loaded Yankees.  The young shortshop was clutch in the playoffs, had a great regular season last year, and will be a staple up the middle for many years to come.  Didi made some spectacular plays in the field against the Jays on a tough artificial surface, and so far is batting .286 with 4 hits.  It’s very early in the season, but Gregorius getting started early is just what the doctor ordered.  There was a little controversy when Aaron Judge tried to woo Manny Machado to the Yankees in the offseason, but there’s no need at Gregorius fits in perfectly around this clubhouse.

The Bad

Aaron Judge’s start

Aaron Judge looked great in the outfield, using his rocket arm to throw out Russel Martin at the plate.  However, his alarming strikeout rate and poor approach at the plate is going to hinder his production greatly, regardless of who is protecting him in the lineup.  Judge finished 3 for 15 with six strikeouts in the first series and looked lost for most of the series.  He’s a great player, but he has to realize that he is at a disadvantage in the strike zone due to his height and he can’t be chasing down and away breaking pitches all season.  Pitchers figured out how to throw to him late in the season and he needs to either adjust his swing or be more disciplined to cut down on his strikeouts.

People freaking out about the outfield situation

Billy McKinney left his first major league start with a shoulder injury, which turns out to be an AC joint sprain.  Unfortunately, he’ll be out for a few weeks.  To make matters worse, Aaron Hicks is on the DL as well with another oblique strain.  Jacoby Ellsbury is eligible to come off the DL on April 5.  The situation is a mess but people need to stop thinking that a professional outfielder cannot play a position other than their own.  Aaron Judge was just fine in Centerfield, Giancarlo Stanton looked pretty comfortable in left field, and it will only be a few games until the Yankees have a healthy outfield again.  Would it be ideal to give Brett Gardner a few days off every once in a while?  Yes, but injuries happen and the Yankees will be okay.

The Ugly

Billy McKinney’s injury

Just like last year when Dustin Fowler was injured in his first major league start, Billy McKinney followed suit by spraining his AC joint.  He will be out “a few weeks” according to Aaron Boone and it’s extremely unfortunate.  It was a coming out party for the youngster during Spring Training, and although he didn’t make the team and was assigned to AAA, a few injuries happen and he and Miguel Andujar are back up on the major league squad.  It hurts the most for McKinney because it’s at the beginning of the season when the Yankees need him the most.  It was a freak injury too, as he ran into the wall trying to catch a fly ball.  Hopefully this doesn’t turn into a Ken Griffey Jr. situation where playing too hard leads to McKinney’s body breaking down early in his career, but this youngster has plenty of opportunities coming his way in the near future.

The bullpen and management of said bullpen

This isn’t the end all be all as to why the Yankees split the series.  Aaron Boone did a good job managing his bullpen the first two games of the series.  However, it must be noted that he left in Dellin Betances way too long in Game three and should not have walked Josh Donaldson in Game four.  Those two decisions led to Kevin Pillar stealing second, third, and home off Betances, and Robertson gave up a grand slam to Justin Smoak.  Once again, Yankees fans are overreacting to the fact that the Yankees blew multiple leads while also having the league’s best bullpen.  However, Betances is one of the most inconsistent pitchers in the game, so why leave him in for two full innings?  He can barely compose himself from pitch to pitch.  In the same breath, Robertson has been one of the most consistent pitchers but the odds say that a righty on righty matchup are much higher than righty on lefty.  Why would you walk the bases loaded against a slugger like Smoak?

These are a few of the questions that will be answered during the Yankees’ long season.  Folks, it’s still week one of a 162 game season.  It’s a marathon not a sprint.  There’s still plenty of time for the Bronx Bombers to get on a roll.  For all sports coverage, make sure to follow @DoubleGSports@feed_the_gods and I will be covering the Yankees over the season.  He’s going to be giving series breakdowns for the Yanks, like this one.  He’s a very talented writer and make sure to check it out.

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