The Yankees’ offense is certainly not clicking on all cylinders yet. And that is excellent news. Why is that excellent news? Because even with several key pieces missing thus far, the team still leads the American League in on-base percentage and is third in runs scored. Robinson Cano has yet to hit with regularity. Mark Teixeira has been mostly invisible. Alex Rodriguez has not hit well. Russell Martin is batting a buck-sixty. And yet, this offense is third in the AL in runs scored. Just how good will it be when some of these stragglers get going?
As of now, the Yankees have been led offensively by Derek Jeter, who has been a whole lot of fun to watch so far this season, and by Brett Gardner, who is batting .321 and getting on base 42 percent of the time. Curtis Granderson is batting only .227 but has three homers and is hitting line drives at a prodigious pace (40.6 percent!). Unfortunately for him, his line drives are not leading to success, but they will. Another great sign is the patience at the plate being displayed by Robinson Cano. He hasn’t hit yet like we know he will, but his walk rate of 11.5 percent is double his career average. Cano walked only 27 times unintentionally last season. Through eleven games, he has walked six such times. If Cano can add some patience for the full season to his already great history of hitting and slugging, he could be truly amazing.
Teixeira will come around. Alex Rodriguez looks healthy and is moving around fine. He will get on track. Cano will hit. Swisher is just fine. This offense is in good shape. If they are this good when this bad (if you get that logic), then this offense is going to be fun to watch.
Sabathia’s start last night did much to boost the confidence surrounding this staff. He will be fine once he gets going. Hiroki Kuroda just flat out knows how to pitch. He will get beat at times, but he is like a right-handed Andy Pettitte. He has had one bad start and one good one. He will be fine. Ivan Nova has added strikeouts to his efficient pitching and just keeps winning. It still seems uncertain if Nova is just a good rabbit’s foot or a good pitcher. I believe the latter. I think he is a lot better than people believe he is. So that’s three starters that will be solid.
Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes have been alarming. Garcia looks like he has nothing and Hughes can’t seem to finish batters off. But it’s not like the Yankees don’t have other options if their failures continue. There is Michael Pineda, Andy Pettitte, David Phelps, D.J. Mitchell and others who can rescue this mess if need be. It would be nice to see Hughes figure it out. Another relegation to the bullpen would be devastating to his long-term prognosis as a starter. But perhaps that becomes the bottom line here. I’m not ready to give up on him yet.
Whether you think Joe Girardi is a bad manager or the opposite, he sure seems to know how to use his bullpen. For the second straight season, the bullpen has been fantastic. Mariano Rivera had his one bad outing as has Cory Wade, Boone Logan and Rafael Soriano. But otherwise, the bullpen has been the bomb. David Phelps has fit in nicely and David Robertson is erasing fears of whether he could repeat last year’s phenomenal success. The answer seems to be a resounding, Yes! Girardi needed to be efficient in how he has used this staff with how few the off days are in April and to this point, has managed that really well as everyone seems rested and well used. Cory Wade is on pace to pitch 91 innings, but that is due to a couple of long, emergency outings.
Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez will never be the sum of parts to make up a David Ortiz, but they have been productive. They will do for now. Other than a couple of his usual clanks in the field, Eduardo Nunez has been raking at the plate. That is a far cry from last season. Eric Chavez hasn’t been needed much and that’s just fine. Anything Chris Stewart does at the plate is a bonus. He did have two big hits last night. But the thing is, when he is behind the plate, there are no worries like there were with Francisco Cervelli. That is refreshing, frankly.
All things considered, the Yankees are in great shape. The offense is still third in the American League in runs scored despite not yet delivering like they can. The pitching staff leads the American League in strikeouts and other than Soriano, are limiting walks. This April is a tough schedule. But so far, so good.