Are the Yankees contenders or pretenders?

Obviously, it’s early in the season, so anything can happen during the 162-game grind. However, the Yankees are playing some of their best baseball yet.

They’re hitting, they’re pitching well and the bullpen has been superb. Throw it all together and you have an 8-1 homestand after the team swept the Tampa Bay Rays, the St. Louis Cardinals and won their series against the Chicago White Sox.

The Yankees are clearly in a league of their own as they prepare for their three game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. But you do have to wonder, are the Yankees contenders…or are they simply pretending?

The only main acquisition the Yankees made regarding the lineup was Matt Holliday; they also signed Chris Carter but he was mostly insurance for the young Greg Bird. Not to mention Carter hasn’t exactly been what the Yankees envisioned in April. But even if the Yankees didn’t sign Holliday, they’re getting contributions from everyone in the lineup. Chase Headley is off to a phenomenal start, Aaron Hicks is opening eyes and Aaron Judge is doing everything advertised, including hitting the longest home run Yankee Stadium has ever seen.

The Yankees have also been getting it done defensively. Starlin Castro, Headley, Ronald Torreyes, and Gold Glover Brett Gardner all used their gloves to help their starting pitchers. It also doesn’t hurt they ended up on multiple highlight reels.

We also have to discuss the pitchers. While Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t looked as dominant in April–even though he had a very good start on Wednesday night–the rest of the rotation has been getting it done. CC Sabathia has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees, performing as if he’s the Sabathia of old. Luis Severino has been brilliant in his three starts and Michael Pineda has turned things around. But the highlight of the recent homestand was Jordan Montgomery, who pitched well in his first Major League start and received the win in his second Major League start. Getting helpful contributions from their young rookie really helped the rotation, which entering the season appeared to be a question mark.

Finally, we have to talk about the bullpen. Every single pitcher in the bullpen has been getting it done, and because they’ve all been dominant, the Yankees have one of the best bullpens in the league. Opposing teams knew facing Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman wasn’t a walk in the park. But they never anticipated having trouble with Bryan Mitchell, Jonathan HolderTommy Layne, and Adam Warren as well.

Believe it or not, the Yankees have one of the most put together rosters in the Majors, and they’re absolutely dominating without Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez, two important players who are on the shelf due to injury.

We’re only about 10 days away from May, but so far the Yankees have been extremely impressive. They already have 10 wins under their belt, which didn’t happen last year until the calendar turned to May.

This team is actually much better than the previous two Yankees teams, but there’s still room for improvement. Despite that, the Yankees are without a doubt contenders, and as long as everyone can stay healthy and productive, this should be a ball club that most teams fear to face.

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13 Responses to Are the Yankees contenders or pretenders?

  1. The Yankees have been exciting so far this year. I think we have to realize, though, that it's extremely early, small sample sizes abound, the competition hasn't exactly been tough, and the questions about the pitching staff still remain, and the young players will still go through consistency issues. Also guys like Ellsbury and Headley aren't going to perform like all-stars all year long.

    It's certainly good to see them beat up on teams that they should be beating up on though, which has been something of a problem over the past four years. It's also promising to see CC Sabathia look like a real $25 million pitcher again, and to see Pineda and Severino regularly using their changeups like real big-boy pitchers. It's just too early for me to step back from my preseason predictions just yet.

    • Celerino says:

      It comes down to the pitching. If Pineda and Severino really have taken a step forward, and CC keeps it up, then the lineup can cover for the occasional slump or injury.

  2. Woody Brosnan says:

    My one caution is that we have feasted at home on bad to mediocre teams. Upcoming series should say more.

  3. tom says:

    I don't know but I really like them going for 90 plus wins.

  4. James Dogg says:

    Bench depth, comeback success, solid bull pen, situational hitting. All provided so far. It is true that the feasting on under achieving teams has been a Yankee fools game in past seasons, this early success though, with the youth involved, could provide lessons more than false hope for the remainder of the season. You got to admit it is fun so far and 2018 , 2019 look real exciting.

  5. Thomas says:

    I would wait for June 1 to see if pretenders or not.

    • buckeye balls says:

      agree-memorial day is the time to start taking notice, 4th of July you start to really believe, but still a pretender if out by labor day. I call it the three holiday rule. But last year 10-17 or whatever it was took a lot of the fun out early-this is much more enjoyable

    • I always liked the way the book Moneyball put it — you spend the first third of the season evaluating, the second third trying to upgrade, and the final third going for it. By that line of thinking, you really don't start tinkering with the roster until June 1st. That way you give players a chance to show what they can actually do.

  6. Jerry says:

    Considering we are not supposed to be that great this year. I'll take what we're doing and run with it. So much better at this point compared to last year. Hey, who knows, Judge looks so good, shot at rookie of the year and more. We are 10 and 5 and could be even better. We blew two of those early games with the Orioles, big leads then lost, could be 12 and 3. Plus doing this without Sanchez and Didi. All I know is, this has been great and good teams are always supposed to beat lesser teams.

  7. buckeye balls says:

    unrelated but anyone know what team Dillon Tate is rostered? cant find him on minor league rosters

  8. James Dogg says:

    Last year on 4/22 they were 3 under .500, on July 5 they were 1 under .500 on last day they were 6 over .500. Today they are 5 over.500 anyone have reason to believe this team will under achieve compared to last years? The change from 7/5 to the end last year was the younger players brought in– this year they are here from jump- they Yankees will be a factor on the field this year, not at the trade deadline like last year-

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