To put it nicely, the Yankees have not played their best baseball to begin the 2021 season. They are currently in last place in the American League, and only the Rockies have a worse winning percentage than New York. However, it is still very early in the season, and the Yankees have a talented club that can turn things around. Here are three things to watch for this week as the Yankees host the Braves then head to Cleveland to play the Indians.
First Two and Four-Game Sets
All of the Yankees matchups so far this year have been three game series against divisional opponents. This week, they will take on the Braves twice at home. After that, they’ll head to Cleveland to wrap up the week with four games there. This isn’t a catastrophic difference, but it’s something. And right now, the Yankees could use a change like this. If they can split or sweep the two-game series against an incredibly talented Atlanta offense, they can have some momentum heading to Cleveland.
Tough Pitching Matchups
Although the Braves haven’t pitched to their potential so far this year, multiple pitchers on the team have had All-Star seasons in their big league careers. In the two-game set, the Yankees are scheduled to put Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber on the mound to face Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson, respectively. Morton pitched with the Rays in 2019 and 2020, so some of the Yankees should be familiar with his stuff.
After that series, the Yankees will take on one of the best rotations in the league in Cleveland. With four games, the Yankees should get a look at most of the guys in the Indians rotation. The Indians allowed no more than five runs in their first 10 games, with eight of them finishing with their opponent have three runs or less. This will be a test for New York, and they can be looking at another rough week if the bats don’t get going.
Will Somebody Step Up on Offense?
The Yankees have had major issues at the plate through their first 15 games.They scored four runs once this week, but were held to three runs or less in the other five.
Aaron Judge has the highest OPS on the team amongst qualified players at .832, which is over 100 points lower than his career OPS.
Gary Sanchez hit a home run in each of the Yankees first two games, but hasn’t homered since. If he can get back to hitting extra-base hits, it could be a spark that can get this offense going.
Giancarlo Stanton homered on Friday and Sunday last week against the Rays. Like many other Yankees, he doesn’t have the best numbers right now, but he is still showing that he has pop and can start homering more often.
The Yankees need somebody, even multiple guys to step up and start contributing on offense. It may even take some old school baseball, meaning more base runners and singles compared to today’s home run focused offense.
Featured Image Courtesy of nj.com.