Heading into 2020, the Yankees have a lot of bright spots, but they also have a lot of questionable scenarios as well.
With Boston dead and Houston buried, Yankees fans have high expectations for the Bombers and their revitalized roster in 2020. But as we saw in 2019, things rarely work out the way you plan. This is baseball, after all. Here are my three biggest worries, or in this case “what-if’s” heading into this 107th season of Yankee baseball.
3. What if Gerrit Cole catches a case of Stanton Syndrome?
…Then Chad Green needs to step up.
We have seen it with Yankees in the past. New stars join the team and it takes them time to settle in, get used to the culture and fast pace of city life. Giancarlo Stanton batted .245 with 72 strikeouts in his first 204 Yankee at-bats.
After ditching the circus in Houston, Gerrit Cole is out to prove he’s the best pitcher on the planet and this time in the cathedral of baseball. Should he stumble out of the gate, the first man in relief will be Chad Green.
In 2019, Chad Green took Yankees fans for wild ride, posting a 5.68 ERA in the first half followed by a 2.89 ERA in the second half. As an opener Green pitched to a 3.72 ERA and as a reliever, 4.35.
With the stuff Green has, a focus on his location in Spring Training is crucial if he is going to succeed as Boone’s security blanket out of the bullpen. Fingers crossed that won’t be necessary.
2. What if Gio Urshela has a Bronx Sophomore slump?
…Then we may see more of Tyler Wade.
Should Gio fail to duplicate his 2019 performance, I feel the Yankees would be hesitant to run Miguel Andújar out to the hot corner given his inconsistency with the glove and recent shoulder surgery. In which case, we may see DJ LeMahieu shift to third, Gleyber to short leaving Tyler Wade at second.
In 2019 the 25-year-old utility man played 18 games at second with a .985 fielding percentage. A solid glove man with speed like a deer, the one fault in Wade’s game has been his bat. In 109 career games he is hitting .197 with 70 strikeouts in 218 at-bats.
Wade will see a significant increase in playing time regardless of Andújar’s status. But increased production at the plate will give Boone more confidence to call on his fourth year utility man.
1. What if Luke Voit isn’t the answer?
…Then Clint Frazier to first base?
Luke Voit’s time in pinstripes has been polarizing. In 39 games with the Yanks in 2018, the first baseman batted .333 with 14 homers and 33 RBI’s. In 118 games in 2019, Voit batted .263 with 21 homers and 62 RBI’s.
Voit performed so poorly down the stretch last year that Boone had no choice but to leave him off the postseason roster. And with Encarnacion gone, first base is by far the Yankees weakest link with the only options being Voit and Mike Ford.
With the American League currently in flux, this team can probably do just fine with the aforementioned tandem at first. However in today’s game, it’s important to have offensive production in all areas and Clint Frazier would provide that at first.
Yes, he has had major issues in the field. But that was the outfield. Most of his problems came with judging and tracking fly balls and liners, which for the most part, are non-factors at first. Get this man’s bat in the lineup and good things will happen.