Yankees observations from first series of 2023: Volpe runs wild, Cole and Brito excel, Judge and Stanton power

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Gerrit Cole and Jhony Brito excel for Yankees

After the whole spider tack incident, Gerrit Cole became public enemy No. 1 among starting pitchers. As a result, Cole has become one of the most underrated aces in baseball. On Opening Day, he showed that he should still be in the conversation for best pitchers in baseball.

Through three innings, eight of the nine outs Cole recorded were via strikeouts, and he finished the day with 11 punch outs, setting an Opening Day franchise record.

After Cole in the rotation, there was a lot of uncertainty heading into this series.Clarke Schmidt’s performance on Saturday didn’t help the uncertainty surrounding him, but Jhony Brito’s MLB debut on Sunday did.

Brito, the 27th-ranked Yankees prospect by MLB.com, took the bump in the series finale, and he was very impressive. Across five innings pitched, Brito struck out six Giants, only surrendered one walk, allowed just two hits and gave up no runs. 

The most encouraging part of Brito’s start was his excellent changeup. Brito threw the pitch 22 times, generating a 50 Whiff% and a 39 Called Strike + Whiff (CSW)% – two well above-average percentages for a given pitch. 

We know what Cole is capable of, but if Brito can continue his success, that would be massive for the injury-plagued Yankees rotation.