I mentioned a few times during the week that despite the moaning from many Yankees fans, the team was in a pretty good spot. As usual, I was right, because the Yankees are in first place.
AL East Standings:
Now, you might be saying that a three-way tie after seven games doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot and you’d be 100 percent right. But when looking at the big picture, the take-home point here is that the Yankees have played better than every other team in the AL East so far and are in a better position than every team in the division.
The Yankees went 4-3 against two good teams that are divisional opponents. I did the math for you and that’s a 20-15 pace against Boston and Toronto over the course of the season, which all of us would sign on for in a heartbeat if offered that right now. Meanwhile, Boston has played Detroit, Toronto’s opening series was against Texas and Tampa Bay had seven games to beat up on Baltimore and Oakland and they didn’t. Again, teams that win divisions generally play well against other good teams and obliterate the weaklings – so far the Yankees are the only team doing either.
This is why this upcoming weekend series is crucial. An April series against the Orioles might have been the last weekend you circled on the calendar when the season started, but trust me it’s important. The Yankees have put themselves in a good spot by playing well against Boston and Toronto, now they need to beat up on the teams that specifically designed their rosters so they can get beat up.
Reminder: Games in April count just as much as games in September. If you don’t knock the Orioles around now, this could be a series we look back at in September when we’re wondering why we’re looking up in the standings at (pick one or more – Toronto, Boston, or Tampa Bay.) A three-game sweep isn’t necessary but it’s pretty damn close to necessary. Two out of three would be OK, but far from good. Anything else would be a massive opportunity wasted.
A few things you need to know about this weekend: Remember, the fences at Camden Yards have been moved back so it’s no longer a little league field – don’t expect Gleyber to hit his customary home run per game every time he’s in Baltimore this weekend. More importantly, the Yankees have the advantage in the starting pitching matchups in all three games. Tonight’s starter Jordan Lyles has pitched 12 seasons in the bigs and has accumulated -2.3 WAR – that’s really hard to do. Over the weekend the Bombers will see Tyler Wells, a former 15th-round pick with one career start and Bruce Zimmerman, he of 15 career not very good starts.
Speaking of which, for the first time in a long time, Yankees fans can say we may be looking at a legit starting rotation. Luis Severino is averaging 97.8 mph on his four-seamer and displaying command with it, as he currently ranks in the 83rd percentile in K% and in the 75th percentile in BB%. We know who Cole and Monty are, as I’ve written I fully expect Taillon to be better this season than last season (and he wasn’t bad last year) and Nestor Cortes Jr. has been nothing but good for over a year now.
Get your road gray brooms out. Jordan Montgomery takes on the aforementioned Jordan Lyles tonight in Camden Yards, first pitch is at 7:05 pm. You can catch the game on the YES Network and listen to it on WFAN. You can also follow me on Twitter @MyBaseballPage1 and on the My Baseball Page Facebook page.
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