A Way Too Early Review of the New York Yankees


Both because of pitching and inefficient offense, the New York Yankees have had a surprisingly sluggish start to their season.(Courtesy of Twitter)

One of my favorite scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War” when Thanos snaps his fingers and sees little Gamora in the soul world. He turns around to Gamora in a near breakdown as she asks him a question.

Bear with me as I try to mock this scene.

“Are the Knicks good?”


“What did it cost?”

“The Yankees.” 

The Knicks and Nets have been lighting New York City on fire; the Giants and Jets just completed their offseasons, which has excited fans for what is in store. The new-look Mets are finally starting to piece themselves together, and the New York Islanders are fighting for a top spot in the East Division. 

With the upward trend that New York sports have had in the last 11 months or so, you would think the Yankees — a franchise always in its prime — would be the cherry on the top of the sundae. What possibly could go wrong?

Well, quite a lot, actually.

Perhaps the most important puzzle piece to the winning formula in baseball is strong pitching, particularly from the starting rotation. The 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals had four of its five starters with ERAs that were 3.85 or lower. The top three pitchers of that staff all had ERAs that were at 3.32 or lower, and superstar Max Scherzer had a 2.92 ERA.

In the World Series, starter Stephen Strasburg elevated himself into a super humanoid on the mound, posting a 2.51 ERA in two starts versus the Houston Astros.  

Digging a little deeper into baseball history, well before analytics took over, the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks were another example. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, two of the most dominant pitchers of all time, led the pitching staff. Having those two on the same staff was like having lightning strike twice in the same spot.

Johnson posted a 2.49 ERA while winning his third consecutive Cy Young award in 2001. Schilling posted a 2.98 ERA and finished runner up to Johnson in the Cy Young voting. Both posted ERAs under 1.70 — 1.04 and 1.69 respectively — in the World Series, which the 2001 Diamondbacks eventually won over the Yankees. 

The Yankees pitching staff, outside of Gerrit Cole, has been a hot mess to start the year. 

Two of the prized offseason hauls, Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon, have been sluggish to start the season. 

Taillon started against the Braves on April 21 as the Chop sent Charlie Morton to the bump. Taillon posted a 5.40 ERA, giving up one run, four hits and one walk and notching five strikeouts in a 3-1 victory. 

The following night, Corey Kluber took the hill against Ian Anderson for the second and final game of the series. Kluber ended the game going four and two thirds innings, with two hits, two strikeouts and four walks for a total of two runs. 

The second run came off reliever Nick Nelson, who entered for Kluber after loading the bases, where Nelson walked in a run. Kluber finished the game with a 5.40 ERA. 

Both players so far have given up a total of 20 runs, not exactly what you would call “helpful” in a so far woeful rotation despite the Yankees sneaking a win against the Braves. 

Domingo German, who missed all of 2020 for his domestic abuse suspension, has also come out of the gates slow. German was red hot in spring training, posting a 1.38 ERA and striking out 17 in four starts.

In two regular season starts, German has given up a total of seven runs, four home runs and 12 total hits, albeit in seven innings of work. All that adds up to a 9.0 ERA, which warranted him going down to the alternate site.

The aforementioned Gerrit Cole, and his sub-two ERA, has been the only stable part of the Yankees’ early April rotation woes. 

Hitting is predicated on pitching. The Yankees have provided almost no run support for their pitchers and not enough to give themselves a chance to win games.

Remember that this has been one of the best offensive teams on paper the last five seasons or so. They possess the reigning American League batting champion, four silver slugger winners, a former National League MVP and one of the best players in professional baseball to go along with a very strong supporting cast.   

They currently rank 25th out of all 30 MLB teams in runs per game at 3.62, second to last in team batting average at .208 and 21st in team on-base percentage at .296.

The Yankees played two total games against the Braves, and it took them two games to score four runs. The Braves scored four runs in a single game without superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. 

In their previous series with the Rays, where they were swept, the Yankees scored seven total runs when Tampa came to the Bronx. The Rays scored eight runs in the first game of that series.

With the exception of Kyle Higashioka, superstars DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela, the Yankees do not have anyone on the team batting over .215. 

The aforementioned former National League MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, leads the team in home runs with five. Considering he leads the Bombers in that category, he is batting .180 to start the season, not exactly saying much for a struggling team. A man who’s being paid north of $28 million is expected to not bat this horribly, on top of the fact he cannot hit the breaking ball.

Gary Sanchez has become the poster child for Yankee fans’ complaints. Now he has backed up his pathetic 2020 season — batting .147 for that year — with a baby step improvement of .204, four RBIs and a measly two home runs. Let’s not get started on how poor his plate discipline has been.

Aaron Hicks looks like he is just learning how to play baseball at times with ridiculous errors in centerfield. He misplayed a fly ball against Tampa, and in the same game, allowed a simple ground ball to roll past him, which he proceeded to bobble. He also swings at pitches everywhere except the strike zone, looking about three seconds ahead of the baseball before it even gets three-quarters of the way to home plate.  

Gleyber Torres has also aggravated Yankee fans, with some on social media suggesting he should be sent down to the alternate site. Defensively, he has blown two games with throwing errors to first base, one against the Orioles and another against the Blue Jays. He still looks somewhat lost at shortstop in fielding balls and simple glove to throw transfers, but he has made strides defensively with some very solid games. 

On offense, Torres came out looking like a slug. His most recent performance against the Indians resulted in him going 0-4 on the day. The game before that he hit a double and went 3-5 on the day, getting an RBI and one strikeout. Manager Aaron Boone even had to chat with his shortstop behind closed doors to discuss his hustle, with multiple counts of low effort on the basepaths, the plate and in the field. 

This conversation was confirmed when Torres told the media about it in a post game press conference. Aaron Boone had also confirmed that the conversation had taken place behind closed doors after last Wednesday’s loss against the Braves.    

All of this however, sums up to a .206 batting average.

The Yankees have been, simply put, egregious to start the 2021 MLB season, with a combination of bad pitching and hitting and outright ridiculous fielding errors that cannot be excused at the major league level. 

It is a very long season and most Yankee fans, like myself, remain optimistic that the Bombers can turn this nightmare start around into a successful product. Some even hope that it can turn into a World Series appearance, maybe even a little more.

But one thing is for sure: when the Yankees are good do not ever count them out, no matter how bad they start.