Yankees' youth plan coming into focus against Astros couldn't be better preview

Yankees fans really needed this, whether it's real or not.

New York Yankees v Houston Astros
New York Yankees v Houston Astros / Bob Levey/GettyImages
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The New York Yankees have a chance to sweep the Astros on Sunday Night Baseball in Houston after impressively capturing victories on Friday and Saturday. If the last thing this disappointing 2023 team can do is interrupt the Astros' playoff positioning in a competitive month of September, the year will be looked back on favorably.

When rosters expanded on Friday, the Yankees called up top prospects Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells to join the team for what was shaping up to be a bloodbath in Houston with Carlos Rodón and Luis Severino on the mound for the first two matchups.

But the second era of the Baby Bombers (not sure we like that?) delivered. Dominguez homered in his first career at-bat against Justin Verlander on Friday (and became the youngest Yankee to ever homer in his first career at-bat with the opposite-field blast). Wells got his first career hit on Friday and then smacked a clutch sacrifice fly on Saturday night. Everson Pereira and Oswald Peraza, both of whom were called up a few weeks ago, recorded clutch RBI singles in Saturday's win. Anthony Volpe's defense has dazzled and he's continuing to improve at the plate every day.

Even though the jury's still very much out on this youth movement, the early returns couldn't be more encouraging. The 2024 preview couldn't be better. This group won a series against the defending World Series champions -- who have crushed them repeatedly since 2017 -- on the road.

Attacking strikes? Working walks? Clutch hits? A left fielder? Who are these Yankees? And how are they already this much better than the frustrating product we've been watching since 2020?

Yankees' youth plan coming into focus against Astros couldn't be better preview

Peraza still has a lot to prove, but his 3-for-4 night in Saturday's 5-4 win has bought him some time after all the criticism about his offense.

Wells is 1-for-7 since debuting, but he was able to break the wheel and actually deliver a sacrifice fly when the Yankees badly needed a run in a big spot. How many times is this a double play or a strikeout over the last few years?

Pereria's debut hasn't exactly been inspiring, but his game-winning RBI single might (hopefully) be the product of his surroundings -- a healthy mix of his peers and big-name MLB players in the same lineup. It should benefit all of the younger players on the roster, too. If they're coming up alongside guys their age, former teammates in the minors, or others they can directly relate to, it's going to help their development.

The Yankees already have the bedrock foundation with Aaron Judge as captain and Gerrit Cole as the leader of the pitching staff. This is the kind of support both Yankees stars have desperately needed over the last few years.

Again, we're just reacting off the early returns because of how much of a breath of fresh air they've been. The Yankees rarely played back-to-back games like this in 2023 with a lineup full of veterans and experienced big leaguers. We can't ignore a bunch of early-20-something-year-olds answering the call the moment the lineup and roster were drastically altered for September.

And then there's Volpe, who's been here all year and has gone through the highs and lows. That perseverance in New York during a trying campaign for all will go a long way in character building for the team's shortstop of the future (as well as his leadership capabilities among his peers on the MLB roster).

The Yankees needed a moral victory badly. Though we're far from anointing this "Baby Bomber" era as future World Series champs -- we won't make the same mistake everybody did in 2017 -- this has to be something fans are pleased with because of the setting and circumstance. The vibes were at an all-time low. The opponent was the Yankees' Final Boss dating back to 2017. And the collective rose to the occasion on a dime to positively set the tone instead of doing what the same old Yankee would do: disappoint.