Through two games, the New York Yankees are a perfectly perplexing 1-1, and have given fans just about the whole gamut of emotions.
Would you like to see some RISP fail? Not a problem; the Yankees were happy to provide in their Thursday opener, with Aaron Judge extinguishing a seventh-inning rally and an ill-timed DJ LeMahieu rollover preventing a walk-off.
What about some pitching, though? The bullpen has held up well through two extended tests. Gerrit Cole went 5.1 innings in the opener, and Corey Kluber couldn’t get an out in the fifth, but a wide variety of ‘pen arms kept their composure and probably should’ve walked away with two wins.
Bronx Bombers fans, famously even-keeled, are already stuffed with overreactions.
Have things looked alright so far? Sure. Lot to believe in, lot to remain skeptical of.
But do we think we can do things better than Aaron Boone? Of course! Don’t worry. We’ve got notes.
Overall, many of the problems the Yankees have suffered thus far will even out in the long run. There’s no need to push Giancarlo Stanton out of the cleanup spot because of a few whiff-filled games; he’ll eventually rip baseballs, and he still threatens the pitcher from right where he is, intimidating the Jays into a few walks on Saturday.
There are a few things we already believe the Yankees should explore, though, especially based on the inopportune situations they’ve found themselves in to start the season.
The Yankees should consider these three lineup and bullpen changes.
3. Aaron Hicks Should Leave the Three Hole…And Lead Off?
This is not a value judgment on Aaron Hicks. It’s simply a clear pitch for optimizing what he provides.
On the surface level, he just…doesn’t look like the same in the three hole as he does in different positions in the lineup.
His greatest strengths are his patience and power, but from the third spot in the lineup, too often he’s looked pull-happy and desperate to sell out for the home run ball. He’s sizing up breaking balls and changeups properly, but then still somehow pulling his head off.
Snap judgments aside, Hicks is just a bigger threat in the leadoff position.
His biggest joy in this game is taking the walk, and fans won’t know what hit them after his eight-pitch at-bats are moved from the middle of the order RBI position to the lineup’s top spot. And don’t we love DJ LeMahieu cleaning up the base paths? Isn’t that far more likely when he’s hitting…anywhere but the top of the order? Let Hicks set the table, and let The Machine plow RBI singles through the right side of the infield instead of relying on Jay Bruce and Clint Frazier at the bottom to get on base.
Thus far, Hicks looks ill-suited to the third spot in the order, and seems to be succumbing to the pressure of being expected to be a run producer. Luckily, there’s a ready-made solution here, and one that statisticians have long been arguing for.