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2021 New York Yankees Season Preview

2021 New York Yankees Season Preview

The Yankees head into 2021 the same way they have every year since 2011, having come up short of the World Series. And that, ultimately, is what matters most in the Bronx.

You cannot win every year, no matter the payroll and resources, which the Yanks arguably have the most of. New York is due, however, to reach or win the World Series. The last time for both was 2009, which feels like the same amount of time as the Corona Virus. Let’s have a look at the pinstripes for this coming season.

Team strength: Hitting. There is no doubt the Yanks should put up a ton of runs again this season. From Aaron Judge to Giancarlo Stanton to Clint Frazier to Aaron Hicks to Gleyber Torres to their best overall player in D.J. LeMahieu to all others, NY should be a top offense again in MLB. Team weakness: Starting pitching. Just re-print this from the last several previews, right? Somehow, the Yanks went out and got Gerrit Cole a year ago, the one missing piece, the ace they needed and then the rest of the staff fell apart due to age or injury or simply terrible performance. After Cole, who knows what 2-5 will look like consistently, but two guys will be very important as…….

Key additions: Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. Risk-reward? Hardly. GM Brian Cashman brought these guys in to produce, period. Kluber, a two-time CY Young winner, has had an impressive Spring as of this writing and could be the #2 if he stays healthy and is consistently productive. Taillon, meanwhile, has had past injuries like Kluber, but the stuff is clearly there. If these two can be what J.A. Happ and James Paxton were not, the Yankees’ chances of winning it all increase significantly.

Indians pitcher Corey Kluber looks on during an interview at Wrigley Field.

Sevy Summer? A late Summer return is likely for Luis Severino, who has had a roller coaster tenure with the Yanks so far. If the Yanks get production out of Sevy for the stretch run, it only adds to the depth of the rotation.

Thank you Hiro! Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t brought back and returns to Japan and Nippon Professional Baseball. Tanaka’s time in pinstripes was overall a success. He was a class act and clutch in the playoffs. He was one guy so many Yankee fans wanted to win a ring.

Giancarlo Stanton

Stomping Stanton? Giancarlo Stanton hit 6 home runs last year and collected 13 RBI in the playoffs. We know what he’s capable of when healthy. Will Stanton finally produce in both the regular and postseasons now that he has done one of each and been healthy (2018) and unhealthy (2019/2020) as a Yankee?

El Fin de El Gary? One more chance for Gary Sanchez, apparently. Many Yankee fans wanted him gone after 2020 thanks to a horrific batting average, weak defense again and average game-calling behind the plate. But as we have seen with many players, the Yanks hold on to them. Sanchez has hit some bombs in Spring Training and manager Aaron Boone loves his confidence and conditioning. We have heard this song and dance before, many times. Will Sanchez finally do what he’s capable of? This has to be the season where a final decision is made. The Yankees cannot continue having mediocrity from the catcher position.

Yankees at Orioles 9/4/17

All Rise! Speaking of health, Aaron Judge looks and feels great. Again, we have heard this before. A full season of Judge healthy can always equal an MVP campaign. Those contract talks start really soon, too.

Clint’s Corner. Left field. Clint Frazier. Starting. Finally. It’s about time. The guy has battled back from concussion problems and the organization’s continued disrespect. The time is now. Expect Frazier to hit around .270-35-100 and play a much better outfield.

Bullpen bullets. The Yanks have most of the regulars back from a season ago, traded Adam Ottavino to Boston for a cup of clam chowder and brought in Darren O’Day. O’Day is a nice veteran piece who can be used everywhere in games, short or long. Underrated Yankee. Backup catcher Kyle Higashioka is rock solid and one of the best backups in the game. When his number is called, he does a remarkable job behind and at the plate.

Biggest AL East threat: Rays. It’s always the damn Rays. Tampa Bay traded Blake Snell to San Diego and let Charlie Morton sign in free agency with Atlanta. They still have a dominant bullpen and can neutralize the Yankee bats and win 2-1.

Biggest AL threat: Astros. George Springer signed in Toronto and Justin Verlander may or may not be back in 2021, but Houston’s offense is deep and versatile led by Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. Young and veteran starting pitching and enough bullpen arms should help as well. The American League is also way down, which opens things up even more for the Yanks, Astros, White Sox and Rays.

Projected rotation by late Summer/season’s end:

1- Gerrit Cole
2- Luis Severino
3- Corey Kluber
4-Jordan Montgomery or Domingo German
5-Jameson Taillon or Deivi Garcia

Projected lineup by late Summer/season’s end:

1- D.J. LeMahieu, 2B
2- Aaron Judge, RF
3- Gleyber Torres, SS
4- Giancarlo Stanton, DH
5- Luke Voit, 1B
6- Aaron Hicks, CF
7- Gary Sanchez-C
8- Gio Urshela, 3B
9- Clint Frazier, LF

Projected record: 97-65.

Projected finish: AL East Division Champions. Lose in the ALDS or ALCS.

The good news is the American League overall is way down. The bad news? This team still lacks starting pitching, which means taxing the bullpen is eventually inevitable. The team is still too reliant on righthanded power as well, which doesn’t help in October. The Yanks continue to be built for the regular season and don’t have the necessary strengths to win consistently in the postseason. The season will end in disappointment yet again.

Mike Lindsley
Follow Mike Lindsley on Twitter @MikeLSports and download his podcast the “ML Sports Platter” on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify.