Sunday, March 14, 2021

Deivi Pleads the Fifth...


Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post

Garcia states his case today…

Today is a big day for Deivi Garcia (well, as big as Spring Training games can get). For him, it is a battle for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Facing expected top AL East challenger, the Toronto Blue Jays (sorry Rays fans), Deivi can make a statement for Manager Aaron Boone and others with a strong performance.

Personally, and although I do not care for him personally, I think Domingo German has the leg up (arm up?) on Garcia. German has pitched very effectively this Spring and with a stronger MLB resume, I think German will receive first consideration. There will be opportunities for the young guys like Garcia, I just do not think he starts the year in the rotation (barring injuries, of course).  If I had my choice, I would love to see Garcia beat out German, but the realist in me says it will not happen. Yet, I think he will receive his opportunities over the course of the long season, and it will be fun to watch him get better and better with every pitch. Maybe this time next year, we are not asking if he will make the rotation, but which spot in the order of the starters.

I am starting to think Jay Bruce is going to make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster. When he was signed to a minor league deal, I did not really see how he fit the roster, but he continues to prove he can add value with his bat, plus playing some time at DH and first base. Not sure how much I would want to throw him in the outfield, but an occasional spot start is not the end of the world. I had wanted Derek Dietrich over Bruce but at this point, if one makes it, it is more probable it will be Bruce. I think the loser if Bruce makes the team is Mike Ford, not Mike Tauchman, but who knows. There are surprises every year.

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

I am not a big fan of Tyler Wade, but his ability to play shortstop provides him with some degree of roster protection. So, I cannot really see the versatile Dietrich taking Wade’s roster spot. Kyle Holder, currently in camp with the Cincinnati Reds through Rule 5, could be returned to the Yankees if he does not make the Reds (he is presently 1-for-11 this Spring). Not saying he would make the Yankees roster, but he will be a resource at the alternate training site if the Yankees need shortstop help in a pinch. The less the Yankees must rely upon Wade the better, in my opinion. I feel his position can be upgraded. Holder is probably not that guy, but he has excellent defensive skills which is a plus and if Gleyber Torres is down for any time, I would want a strong glove more than a bat at the position (considering the overall offensive strength of the team).

It is really run to watch Corey Kluber pitch. He has such a strong presence on the mound. I hated to see the Yankees face him during his dominant years with the Cleveland Indians and I am hopeful that he can create that same type of intimidation for non-Yankee fans this year. Not that Gerrit Cole needs any help to be one of the top pitchers in all of baseball, but there are things to be learned from a veteran ace like Kluber. He is just one of those guys with the ability to make everyone around him better. I like it. I look forward to the first Yankee Stadium start this year for the Klubot. Still trying to get used to number 28 on the mound (feels a little like Joe Girardi pitching) but no doubt that Kluber will soon make 28 his own. I am glad he is here (and healthy). It must be a little bittersweet for Texas Rangers fans, wondering what could have been.   

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

I am really excited about the Yankees’ starting rotation this year. The front four of Cole, Kluber, Jameson Taillon, and Jordan Montgomery is the best I have felt about the Yankees in years. Whether it is Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt (when he returns to good health), Michael King or someone else, the fifth starter will be no slouch. Then, on the summer horizon, looms the return of the great Luis Severino. Life is good.

I know there’s concern about the bullpen loss of Zack Britton for the next 3-4 months, but the Yankees seem to believe the arms they have will step up. They could be right. The Tampa Bay Rays are notorious for seemingly rebuilding their bullpen almost every year with unknown names, yet they find success.  So long as none of the relievers give me that “shell-shocked” feeling we experienced with Tyler Clippard, I am confident they can get the job done. Like everyone else, I am quietly pulling for 33-year-old Lucas Luetge. Ten strikeouts in 4 games are an achievement, even in meaningless Spring games. With improved spin rates and the assistance of the Yankees’ pitching and analytics teams, maybe Luetge is not just a flash in the pan.  If not Luetge, then I hope Tyler Lyons claims the lefty role. Not that the Yankees need a lefty to replace Britton, but it would be nice. I liked Darren O’Day’s comment after yesterday’s game that the Yankees bullpen, as presently constructed and even without Britton, brings a different look from every reliever. I am glad Aroldis Chapman has been working on adding a split-change to his arsenal. After the recent playoff failures, we need Chappy to be the last man standing in October and not because the opposing team just hit a game-winning, World Series-ending home run off him. I want the famed Chapman stare as the last batter of the 2021 season goes down swinging.

Photo Credit: USATSI

It was not great news to read the reports Miguel Andújar has soreness in right hand/wrist and will see a specialist on Monday. With Gio Urshela’s delayed start to the regular season, Miggy is being counted on to hold down third base until Gio’s return. The Yankees can move D.J. LeMahieu to third base in the interim if Miggy misses time. I suppose if that happens, Dietrich’s chances to make the roster improve since he can play second base. Hopefully, the news about Miggy will not be serious enough to deter his availability for Opening Day but it is certainly a concern until we know more. Hoping to hear good news about Miggy on Monday.

Robinson Chirinos, we hardly knew ye. Non-roster invitee Chirinos was a long shot before he fractured his right wrist, but now, it is probably the last we have seen of him in Pinstripes. Some Yankee fans were upset about his presence, but it did not bother me. If he has rapport with Gerrit Cole, why not roll the dice? Rob Brantly’s home run on Friday was his statement that he is more than happy to be the third catcher. I feel bad for Chirinos. At age 36, any injury can be a career-ender. The wrist is always so problematic, and it is not as easy as just letting the bone heal. Wrist injuries always remind me of the struggles Mark Teixeira experienced when he injured his wrist. Brantly will not make the Opening Day roster, but he will be a phone call away in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, most likely, if the Yankees need help. With no offense to Brantly, I hope he never receives the call but that is beside the point. Sadly, injuries happen, and the Yankees need to be prepared. Hopefully, this is the year we see less injuries than in recent seasons, but we are not off to a great start. 

We are starting to move into that part of Spring Training where the excitement about the return of baseball has moved to the ‘let’s just get this over so we can get to Opening Day’ stage. With the limited travel of this year’s Spring schedule, I am starting to get tired of seeing the Phillies, Pirates, Tigers and Blue Jays repeatedly.

As always, Go Yankees!

1 comment:

Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)