Yankees 2018 opening weekend edition: Who’s hot and who’s not

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 30: Didi Gregorius
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 30: Didi Gregorius /

Every week, I will provide a Yankees edition of who’s hot, and who’s not. This week is the 2018 opening weekend edition. Even though the Yanks only played four games, there’s plenty of takeaways.

The Yankees could have left Toronto with a four-game series victory if their bullpen did not implode. Their offense delivered up-and-down the lineup. However, the Yankees’ “fearsome foursome bullpen,” that some analysts label “historic” failed against the Blue Jays.

Bullpen implosion

The bullpen pitched a combined 13 1/3 innings and struck out an impressive 18 batters while saving Friday’s game. Unfortunately, they also allowed four home runs, posted a 7.43 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, blew a save and were nailed with two losing decisions.

Every reliever except for strikeout artists Chad Green and Jonathan Holder got tagged for at least one earned run. Which means the elite four relievers: Aroldis Chapman, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, and Dellin Betances were all penetrated despite their impressive reputation.

Severino and Tanaka lead Yankees to early 2-0 start

The starting rotation did an excellent job at limiting earned runs inside Rogers Centre. Ace Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka were especially dominant in their starts. C.C. Sabathia and Sonny Gray allowed one earned run apiece, but both gave up way too many hits.

Combined, Sevy and Tanaka struck out 15 batters and limited the Jays to four hits in 11 2/3 innings. The one earned run allowed by the duo was a home run surrendered by Tanaka (some things never change).

Gray and Sabathia pitched a combined nine innings and struck out 12 batters. Sounds good, but the latter also allowed 12 hits and walked five, which gives them an integrated WHIP of 1.88.

Giancarlo & Drury are off to go a good start with their Yankees careers

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The Yankees’ offense was alive, for the most part. Giancarlo Stanton‘s two home run debut stole the headlines, but what about the left side of the Yanks’ infield? Third baseman Brandon Drury and shortstop Didi Gregorius crushed the Jays’ pitching staff with six extra-base hits.

If Drury develops into a reliable bat, it will give an already deep Bombers lineup more star power for Aaron Boone to work with. Even with injuries to starters Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks, the Yanks look like they won’t have a problem scoring many runs.

Week 1 – Who’s Hot

Brandon Drury: 13 AB, 2 R, 5 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, .385/.500/.592

So far, the Brandon Drury acquisition looks like a genius move. Brian Cashman and Yankees professional scouting department have supposedly been eyeing Drury for several years because they see massive potential. Early on, he’s already looking like a breakout candidate.

Luis Severino: 1 GS, 5 2/3 IP, 1 W, 1 H, 0.00 ERA, 3 BB, 7 K, 0.71 WHIP

The Yankees’ bullpen will bounce back and be a luxury for Aaron Boone to utilize. Still, Boone will need Severino to eat up innings to avoid overusing the ‘pen. Also, hitting 99-mph in his first start of the season could be an early sign that the young ace hasn’t missed a beat.

Giancarlo Stanton: 14 AB, 4 R, 4 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, .286/.444/.857

With Aaron Judge not making much noise on offense yet, Stanton’s presence in the three hole is irreplaceable. It was also important to see Stanton play right and left field to help Brett Gardner, who is still valuable, get some much-needed days off.

Didi Gregorius: 14 AB, 3 R, 4 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, .286/.375/.643

Since Greg Bird will be out 6-to-8 weeks, Gregorius will see a large share of opportunities batting in the heart of the Yanks’ order. If he continues to hit as he did against the Jays, he’ll definitely make his first All-Star Game.

Tyler Austin: 6 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 2 HR, 3 RBI, .333/.333/.1.333

It’s time for Austin to grab the bull by the horns and show he has the talent to play in the majors.  Hitting two game-tying home runs on Saturday was huge for the 26-year-old. So far his bat is proving why he is a viable option to play first base until Bird is back.

Chad Green: 3 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0.00 ERA, 0 BB, 7 K

Green was lights out against Toronto, much like he was last year. Like Severino, Green is off to a good start to prove last year was not a fluke season.

Week 1 – Who’s Not

Dellin Betances: 3 IP, 1 L, 4 H, 9.00 ERA, 2 HR, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1.67 WHIP

You knew this was coming. Hopefully, Betances fixes his mechanics or develops an off-speed pitch soon because batters are teeing off against his fastball, and he has a tendency to lose the strike zone. He only surrendered three home runs in 2017, but he’s already given up two in ’18.

The worst we saw from Betances this weekend was the stolen bases against him after giving up the go-ahead home run off the bat of ex-Yankee Yangervis SolarteKevin Pillar‘s steal of home was the icing on the cake.

The NY Post was right when they said Betances had never been exploited like this before.

David Robertson: 2 IP, 1 L, 4 H, 18.00 ERA, 1 HR, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2.00 WHIP

We’ve become spoiled with David “Harry Houdini” Robertson’s ability to escape out of danger. On Easter Sunday, I watched Robertson pitch to Justin Smoak after loading the bases by intentionally walking the obviously injured (shoulder) Josh Donaldson.

I expected a groundout but instead watched a devastating go-ahead grand slam scream off of Smoak’s bat. Even the best relievers get “smoaked” sometimes (bad joke). The clutch performance made Smaok the first AL Player of the Week of the 2018 season.

Gary Sanchez: 14 AB, 1 H, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K

Gary wasn’t scary during the first week of the season. But he will be an important player for the Yankees in 2018. I expect a quick bounce back for “arguably the Yankees best hitter,” according to it seems everyone on YES, ESPN, WFAN, CBS Sports, FS1 and MLB Network.

Tyler Wade: 12 AB, 1 H, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K

Next: Is Brandon Drury the next breakout star?

I wasn’t going to add Wade to the list because of his big two-run double this weekend, but then I thought otherwise. I believe in Wade, and I’m happy he made the opening day roster. But if he wants to be a big leaguer, he’ll have to get called out when he’s slumping, which he is.