With a 33-27 record in the 2020 campaign and an early exit during the playoffs, the New York Yankees are facing lots of questions in the 2021 season.
The same offensive core that has dominated the American League in the last couple of seasons is coming back, and that includes Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Hicks, and others.
The starting rotation is quite different than the one the Yankees boasted last year, as they let J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, and James Paxton walk via free agency and replaced them with Jameson Taillon, Corey Kluber, and a returning Domingo German, suspended for the whole 2020 season.
There are several situations to monitor in the Bronx, though, and here are some of them:
3 Questions The Yankees Are Facing In The Upcoming Season
Will Gary Sanchez Rebound?
After years of being an above-average offensive performer, starting catcher Gary Sanchez struggled in 2020, to the tune of a .147/.253/.365.
He did hit 10 home runs, but had a career-high 36% strikeout rate and a career-low 68 wRC+, where 100 is seen as average.
A great get by @MarlyRiveraESPN … 'I didn't know why I wasn't playing': Gary Sanchez on getting benched in the playoffs — and his future with the… https://t.co/6nrpkV3pvN His words raise a lot of hard questions about how honest he is with himself about his performance.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 28, 2020
The Yankees and the catcher want to leave 2020 behind, so Sanchez played some winter ball and reported in great shape to spring training.
He hasn’t had a particularly good showing during the Grapefruit League, but the Bombers are confident he can return to being an offensive powerhouse.
Sanchez won’t bat .300, but can be an above-average performer thanks to his prodigious power.
Will he be able to have a rebound season?
Will Aaron Judge And Giancarlo Stanton Stay Healthy?
There is no doubt that, when Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are healthy, they are the best hitters on the Yankees, even better than DJ LeMahieu.
However, they haven’t been the poster children for health in the last three seasons.
Between the two sluggers, they have missed 323 games since 2018.
The New York Yankees health hazards.
Stanton & Judge’s combined stats from 2018-2020:
Games Missed – 323
HRs – 108
RBI – 268#Yankees ranks from 2018-2020:
PAs – 9th most
HRs – 1st by 35
RBI – 1st by 62
Just imagine where they would be with full healthy seasons from both. pic.twitter.com/T165VQSudn
— DataBase Hit (@DatabaseHit) February 24, 2021
They have suffered just about every soreness, inflammation, fracture, tear, and strain that exists in the dictionary.
However, that’s not their fault, nor it makes them more injury-prone than their peers in the future.
They have also suffered fluky injuries, too.
The most important thing for the Yankees is that both are healthy, locked, and loaded for the start of the season, and that is refreshing.
If both can play at least 150 games, they will likely lead the league in homers and in average exit velocity, and contribute greatly to a potential championship run.
Will The Pitching Additions Rise To The Occasion?
The Yankees brought in Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber, two extremely talented but injury-prone pitchers.
Taillon, Kluber, and German are nice complements to ace Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery, but it remains to be seen what kind of workload Taillon and Kluber can handle after missing most of the last two seasons with different injuries.
The bullpen is also renewed, as Tommy Kahnle, Jonathan Holder, and Adam Ottavino are gone and Justin Wilson, Darren O’Day and a few talented youngsters like Jonathan Loaisiga and Nick Nelson will now have their chance to shine.
The unit looks better, but it will depend on Wilson and Zack Britton’s return to full health to show its full potential.
Additionally, it wouldn’t hurt the Yankees to have Loaisiga, Nelson, or another young gun break out.
That remains to be seen.