In an odd scheduling quirk the Yankees will be in Chicago for an entire week. They traveled after the game Sunday and are spending the off day Monday in the Windy City. They will then play a two game interleague match-up at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. Then they play a four game set against the White Sox. Both the Cubs and White Sox are under .500 for the season and neither is playing very good baseball at the moment. This is a terrific opportunity for the Bombers to feast on some weaker teams and gain some traction in the AL East.
The Cubs will throw their two best pitchers against the Yankees in the abbreviated two game set in Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. The Yankees will counter with one of, if not the, best pitcher in baseball in Masahiro Tanaka and the unknown Chase Whitley. Whitley pitched well in his MLB debut against the Mets getting a no decision in a game the Yankees eventually won. Tanaka does not lose baseball games. Both Tanaka and Whitley should be able to handle a Cubs lineup that ranks near the bottom of the majors in nearly every offensive category.
The Yankees will then face the White Sox without rookie phenom Jose Abreu, who was placed in the DL over the weekend with an ankle injury. The Cuban defector was tearing the cover off the ball in the early part of the season. He had a league leading 15 home runs to go along with 42 RBIs. The Yankees are catching a huge break to be playing the White Sox without such an imposing figure in the middle of their lineup. The Yankees will also miss All Star Chris Sale on this trip as he is also on the DL. They will be facing a team without its best starting pitcher and best hitter.
On a road trip like this where the stars are seemingly aligning for the Yankees, they need to go into St. Louis on Memorial Day have won at least five of six games. These are simply games the Yankees cannot afford to lose. They are a half game up in the division going into the off day. This week in the Second City is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a couple teams down on their luck at a time when the Yankees are looking shaky in the rotation and offensively. A nice week in Chicago can go a long way towards gaining some breathing room in the division and ultimately a division championship in a few months.