If the 2022 New York Yankees are going to bounce back and hit their FanGraphs projections, pitching coach Matt Blake and new hitting coach Dillon Lawson are going to have to work their signature magic.
We’re not talking elementary-level spells here, either. Some Bombers looked beyond saving in 2021, and it might take some powerful stuff from the vault to get the job done.
So far in spring training, so good, though, for a pair of villainized Yankees who haven’t been dumped just yet.
This offseason, you could’ve convinced Yankee fans to purge nearly any underperforming name from last year’s roster, and they would’ve signed off. Gio Urshela, Gary Sánchez and Luke Voit ended up getting the boot, though all three men seemed to be established members of the core as recently as 2020.
Gleyber Torres was next on the chopping block, arguably, as the A’s floated Sean Murphy, Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea to willing parties.
New York has (so far) held onto the 25-year-old second baseman (NOT a shortstop!) who performed admirably and started to lift the ball in August and Sept. 2021. At this point, that seems like a wise bet on talent, and one offseason in Lawson’s hitting factory has him flashing some lost potential — including in Wednesday night’s home tilt, when he lifted an old-school oppo shot to deep right-center.
Yankees’ Gleyber Torres, Deivi Garcia getting in rhythm
In unison: Are spring training stats to be trusted? No, they’re not!
But there is value in the anecdotal evidence of watching players do something they physically haven’t done with any consistency in ages. Gleyber Torres homering off Tyler Wells won’t have much of an impact on the 2022 regular season, but Gleyber Torres showing off the renewed ability to swing his hips and strike balls hard to the opposite field just might.
The results aren’t important. The process, and the ingredients, are.
And speaking of, Deivi Garcia averaged nearly 95 on the gun in Wednesday night’s start against Baltimore, nearly three MPH faster than he did during his wild step back in 2021.
In case you’re wondering what exactly “counts” in spring training … that “counts.”
Results don’t matter much at the moment for Garcia and Torres — though the good feelings they breed aren’t meaningless. What matters is the approach (and the metrics).
Torres had a difficult defensive inning at second on Wednesday, but he stayed in to rip a single in his next at-bat and end on a high note. Garcia had nothing go right in 2021; after making a big-league cameo, he finished the minor-league season with 68 walks in 90.2 innings, taking his 6.85 ERA into the offseason like a lead weight. The stuff was diminished if not disappeared. There was no more upward trajectory. This game moves fast.
On Wednesday night, both men saw their issues resolved. They were productive, sure, but that was a feature of the bigger picture. For now, two of the Yankees’ most important bounce backs remain on the table.