The 2014 New York Yankees may have stumbled out of the gate, but they got back on their feet quickly. This week, we have found out five important things about this year´s team that should leave Yankees fans feeling optimistic.
1. David Robertson is ready mentally to assume the closer´s role. He has looked good in his initial outings. Whether it is from his brief opportunities last season, or from having an entire off season to prepare himself emotionally, he is taking the mound in the ninth with the same calm and cool that he has always approached the eighth. There has never been a question about his talent to handle the closer role, but the jitters now seem to be gone.
2. Overall, the starting pitching has gotten the job done. Take away CC Sabathia´s first two innings, and the rotation has pitched well enough for the Yankees to be undefeated. It is the slow start with the bats that has left them short. After a rocky start, Masahiro Tanaka showed that he has the mental toughness to hang in against adversity. This is an encouraging sign that he will be able to handle the pressure of the post-season and pitching in New York, in general. That is not something that every pitcher has been able to do.
3. Yangervis Solarte and Brian Roberts have shown that they definitely have what it takes defensively. The biggest questions coming into the season were at second and third base. Now we have to see if they can sustain their contributions at the plate. In any case, these two positions are no longer the weak links that Yankees fans feared they might be.
4. It looks as if the Yankees are going to be very aggressive on the base paths. In Friday night´s win over Toronto, Ichiro Suzuki tried to go from first to third on an errant throw at first, but was thrown out at third. Solarte was cut down on a play at the plate. Kelly Johnson legged out a triple without hesitating as he rounded second base. The aggressiveness is a good sign, but better judgement is sometimes needed.
5. The Yankees have prepared a plan on challenging replays. Joe Girardi is getting a signal from the bench before issuing the challenge. This allows for Yankee personnel to view the replays and give him advice. Reportedly, they have actually practiced this.
Of course the season is just getting started, but the third and fourth games give Yankees´ fans plenty of reason to be optimistic.