The Yankees made a couple of significant acquisitions this offseason, so we might as well take an early look to see how they are doing.
After a seemingly endless offseason followed by an injury-riddled Spring Training, this week Yankees fans finally got to turn on the YES Network and watch some real baseball games that actually mattered. Though the team has only gone 3-4 through their first seven games and has had no shortage of further injuries, one bright spot has been that many of General Manager Brian Cashman’s offseason pickups have looked very good so far.
Here’s a look at three of the team’s additions from this offseason who have dazzled in their first week wearing the pinstripes. Please note that this article was written on Thursday, April 4th so all stats referenced are only accurate through Thursday’s game.
The team signed Ottavino to a three-year, $27 million deal in an attempt to add yet another talented arm to what was already an elite bullpen. His four appearances thus far have shown exactly why Cashman was more than willing to throw that much money at a relief pitcher.
The New York native has yet to allow a run or hit in four innings, he has also struck out six batters and only walked two. His slider and two-seam fastball have continued to whip and dart every which way just like they did in Colorado, leaving clueless hitters mesmerized as to what black magic Ottavino has somehow conjured up 60 feet and six inches away.
However, the fact that manager Aaron Boone used him in four of the team’s first five games could be a cause for concern, as the last thing that this injury-plagued team need is Ottavino going on the IL due to being overworked. Here are a few gifs of some of Ottavino’s filthiest pitches thus far for your viewing pleasure, courtesy of the one and only
Adam Ottavino, 95mph Two Seamer and 84mph Slider, Overlay. 😳 pic.twitter.com/7221F0MyUF
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 28, 2019
Adam Ottavino, 84mph Slider (strike looking) and 95mph Two Seamer (Swinging K), Overlay.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 3, 2019
Adam Ottavino, Nasty 95mph Back Door Two Seamer. 😨 pic.twitter.com/Uz005KghZc
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 3, 2019
Cashman was under pressure to add a top-tier starting pitcher this offseason, and he found one in Paxton, though it didn’t come at a cheap price. The team surrendered three prospects, including their top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, in order to reel in the big Canadian lefty from the Seattle Mariners. Paxton has only had two starts this season so far, and they’ve been a mixed bag. He pitched rather well in his Yankee debut on Saturday, March 30, going 5.2 innings and only allowing two runs (one earned run) to the Baltimore Orioles, while striking out five and only giving up four hits and one walk.
However, he still got stuck with the tough-luck loss as the bullpen imploded and a last-ditch effort by the offense was too little, too late as the Yankees dropped the game 5-3. Paxton’s second start of the year was against Baltimore again on Thursday, April 4th. He got off to a rough start as the Orioles scored three runs off of him in the first inning. Jonathan Villar led off the inning with a homer, and after allowing three hitters to reach base on two walks and a single, Paxton balked in a run before a wild pitch scored the third run. From that point on he settled down and only allowed one run the rest of the game.
He ended up going 5.1 innings and allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks, also striking out nine batters en route to earning his first win as a Yankee. The brutal first inning blemished his line permanently, but after his first inning woes ended, he looked much closer to the pitcher the Yankees saw on Saturday. With Luis Severino on the IL until May at the earliest, the team will be relying on Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka to lead the rotation in shouldering the load until its ace returns.
One of the more surprising moves of the offseason, LeMahieu was signed in mid-January to strengthen the team’s infield defense while also adding a contact hitter to throw into a lineup full of hitters with 40 home run potential. Though many fans were initially against the signing of LeMahieu since it signaled that the team was bowing out of the Manny Machado sweepstakes, LeMahieu’s performance this first week has been more than enough to immediately make him a fan favorite among Yankees fans.
He has appeared in six games, recording eight hits in 20 at-bats while sporting a .500 OBP and 1.000 OPS. He has shown that he is still a great contact hitter and capable of keeping the line moving for the big sluggers in the lineup to drive in more runs. Some fans have suggested that he should be the team’s everyday leadoff hitter until Aaron Hicks returns from his back injury. His defense has been impeccable as well- he is capable of playing all around the infield and so far he has started five games at third base and one game at second base. He could very well be the team’s everyday third baseman for the foreseeable future, as Miguel Andujar is at risk of missing significant time due to a small tear in his Labrum.
LeMahieu has made multiple impressive plays at third and has only committed one error (a throwing error). Though Andujar’s bat will certainly be missed, with LeMahieu manning the hot corner, Yankees fans will no longer have to worry about Andujar’s signature double pump leading to a bobbled ball or overthrow.