Opening Day is upon us. It has been a very long off-season but finally, the Yankees are back. They have a reloaded lineup which includes Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury. They also strengthened the rotation by signing the biggest free agent pitcher out there in Masahiro Tanaka.
Bottom line is it’s almost game time and you need to know who to keep an eye on in the upcoming series. It’s always important to know the match-ups, whose swinging a hot bat, who isn’t, what teams are playing well, etc. You will be provided with a weekly, in-depth look at the upcoming games of the week, starting with the most exciting week of the year, Opening Week.
Yankees @ Astros
Whose Hot?: The Astros are coming off another awful season and although the future is bright in Houston, 2014 most likely will not be. Two guys to watch out for in the opening series are Robbie Grossman and newly acquired Dexter Fowler. Both have been tearing the cover off the ball this spring.
Whose Not?: However, Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez have been on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. They both have struggled to keep their average above .200 for the spring and have a combined one home run to show for as they limp into the regular season.
*What To Watch For*
Chris Carter, Jesus Guzman, and Dexter Fowler are the only Astros to face Sabathia. The trio is a combine 2-for-11 against the left-hander. As for Hiroki Kuroda, no one on the Astros has had a significant amount of at-bats against him except for Dexter Fowler who Kuroda owns. Fowler is just 4-for-21 agisnt him with no homers or RBI. Finally, Nova will pitch the third game. The only Houston player with any history against Nova is Chris Carter, he is 0-for-2.
After the Yankees open their season for three games in Houston, they travel to Toronto for a weekend series against the Blue Jays.
Yankees @ Blue Jays
C.C. Sabathia Sunday, April 6th: 1:07 pm Drew Hutchison
Whose Hot?: Each of the three starters going against the Blue Jays have had a phenomenal spring and hope to translate it to the regular season. In fact, Sabathia has had one of the best springs of his career.
On the Jays’ side, saying Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie dominated this spring would be an understatement. Each have hit well over .300 (Melky is hitting over .400). Cabrera has hit 10 doubles this spring although he has no homers. However, Bautista, Encarnacion, and Lawrie have hit five, three, and two home runs respectively.
Whose Not?: After getting hammered by the Yankees, R.A. Dickey‘s ERA went soaring over five for the spring without a win to show for it. There have been very few hitters in the Blue Jays’ lineup who have not delivered this preseason but Colby Rasmus is one of them. Although spring training stats don’t mean much, Rasmus hit just .233 with no home runs.
*What To Watch For*
Masahiro Tanaka will be making his much-anticipated MLB debut in the first game of the series so all eyes will likely be on him as he tries to prove his worth at the Major League level. Michael Pineda only has the 2011 season on his resume, but he holds an advantage over Bautista. Bautista is just 1-for-9 off Pineda. On the other hand, Adam Lind has Pineda’s number by going 3-for-9 with two homers and nine RBI.
Of course no one has faced the 25-year-old in over two seasons so it should be interesting to see him on the mound again. The final game of the series has Sabathia pitching for the Yankees. Jose Bautista has been absolutely dominated by Sabathia going just 2-for-27. Macier Izturis has seen some success against the Yankees ace, going 9-for-25 which is a .429 clip.