The 2021 New York Yankees could have been described a myriad of different ways at various points in the season. One day, they would be slugging at that plate and dealing from the bump. On another, the lineup would be wasting at-bats, and the staff would be struggling to find the strike zone. In fact, the only consistency was inconsistency in the summer of ‘21.
By July 4, they were only 41-41 and trending in the wrong direction. A hot streak fueled by roster additions and timely bullpen pitching helped them finish the campaign well enough to secure a Wild Card spot. Since it was only the second entry, New York was forced to play a one-game playoff in Fenway Park against the rival Boston Red Sox. As Yankee fans remember, this was where the flukey season came to an unceremonious conclusion.
Obviously this year’s Pinstripes are performing much differently, but it is critical to remember last season’s story when considering the current state of affairs in the Bronx. If the Yankees were able to play above-.500 baseball in the early part of the summer, they may have been able to avoid an October confrontation in Boston and instead host the game. Additionally, it is entirely possible that they could have won the AL East altogether.
All of this is to say that this season’s 33-15 start heading into the current homestand was a much needed step towards the kind of consistent play that wins both divisions and championships. There are still problems, of course, but in general, their play has been exactly what the doctor ordered. Division opponents are lurking, sure, but with a five-game buffer. When one examines what lies ahead for all involved, it is clear that the current homestand against the Angels and Tigers is massive in the grand scheme of things.
Angels, Tigers homestand crucial for 2022 Yankees
LA presents some obvious challenges. Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani lead an offense attack that has been lethal. At the time of this article, the Halos have scored the third-most runs and bashed the second-most home runs in baseball.
They’ve also gotten surprising contributions from pieces like third baseman Taylor Ward, who has already posted a career high in home runs this season. While the Angels have not had the best pitching this season, their hitters are no joke, and will certainly test Nestor Cortes and Jameson Taillon (after Jordan Montgomery was somehow able to tame them in the opener), as well as a bullpen that is not at full strength.
The Detroit Tigers have been disappointing thus far. They currently reside in fourth place of the AL Central, and rank towards the bottom of MLB in a plethora of major offensive categories such as home runs, OBP, and OPS. Javy Báez has struggled out of the gate, and is batting a putrid .195.
Interestingly, Detroit’s pitching has been serviceable. The club holds a collective ERA of 3.65, but has recently been hurt by injuries. Barring a Yankees’ offensive meltdown, New York should be able to handle anything that the Tigers can throw at them.
The Yankees have a golden opportunity to extend their division lead, and now is most definitely the time to strike. The Toronto Blue Jays will be playing crafty White Sox and Twins teams back to back. Further, once the pesky Tampa Bay Rays finish their series with the Texas Rangers, they’ll have to match up against the White Sox, as well as a competitive St. Louis Cardinals team.
New York will face the Rays and Jays in June, so keeping a sizable division lead in advance would be advantageous. As Aaron Judge makes clear in the tweet above, it’s all about the standings.
This homestand could make all the difference. As the Yanks learned last season, each game counts, especially when attempting to outrun division rivals in a 162-game marathon.