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Troubling Start for the Yankees in 2018

Robert Dimuro

Posted on April 15, 2018 14:56

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Mediocrity is not good enough for a young and talented team that is expected to repeat last season's unexpected success and contend for its 28th World Series championship.

To say the least, the Yankees 2018 campaign has had an up-and-down start. Decent, although erratic, offensive output combined with a beleaguered starting rotation and an already exhausted bullpen has the Yankees squarely in the center of mediocrity – and rookie manager Aaron Boone in the hot seat.

The first half of April has the Yankees at 7-7 with a run differential of zero, which is as average as a team can be. Despite playing through several injuries and some cold, rainy weather, it is safe to say that the season has started off poorly. It’s a start that leaves the team with more questions and less answers than it had before opening day.

While the Yankees will all but certainly bounce back, there are some areas of long-term concern – most notably with the pitching staff. The team is currently ranked 24th in ERA and the damage has come evenly from both the starting rotation and the bullpen.

The aging CC Sabathia has an injured knee. It’s anyone’s guess how he will hold up for the rest of the season. Beyond Severino and Tanaka, much uncertainty remains as to how the rest of the rotation will perform.

The bullpen has woefully underperformed as Betances, Kahnle, Robertson, have all had bad outings. While every player is entitled to some, the bullpen is arguably the strongest part of the team and has lofty expectations to meet. More than anything else, the bullpen carried this team into the ALCS last season, in which it took the best team in baseball to edge out the Yankees in 7 games.

Another part of the team that, in my opinion, has had a bad start is manager Aaron Boone. He has already received sharp criticism over one decision in particular. On April 1st, when the Yankees were playing against the Blue Jays, Boone made his first big mistake while trying to hold the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning.

With David Robertson pitching, he elected to intentionally walk Josh Donaldson to load the bases because of Donaldson’s prior success against Robertson. Then, having to face the red-hot Justin Smoak with nowhere to put him, Robertson gives up a grand slam, causing the Yankees to lose the game.

This is an unforgivable mistake for which Boone should have taken ownership. Instead he chose to defend himself to the press after the game saying that he “liked the matchup”.

The good news is that, while it has been a slow start, things can turn around in a heartbeat. There is too much talent on the roster for the Yankees not to compete. As we’ve seen, Judge and Stanton can, at times, almost single-handedly carry the team to victory.

Also, as we’ve seen, the Yankees’ pitching staff can dominate when at its best. However, expectations remain very high, and anything short of a playoff berth and a deep run will be a major disappointment – and could spell the end for Aaron Boone.

Robert Dimuro

Posted on April 15, 2018 14:56

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Source: Yahoo Sports

Aaron Judge as the Yankees leadoff man? Manager Aaron Boone says he's thought about it.

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