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It's Time For The Yankees To Get Back To The World Series

Adam Hunger. Getty Images.

It's been too damn long since I've seen the Yankees play in the World Series. It's embarrassing is what it is. It's the monkey everyone on that team has been trying to shake off for years now and it's beyond ridiculous. With Opening Day tomorrow, I felt it's time to see where the team is at as we head into the 2021 MLB regular season. Spoiler alert, I'm feeling pretty good about the boys. 

The Lineup

The Yankees lineup will go fairly unchanged from last year. With Giancarlo forced to be the DH to save his body, the offensive side of the roster was restricted in what it could become. That being said, this lineup is a force no matter how you look at it. DJ LeMahieu signed back on a six year deal to be the table setter that really makes everyone else go. I couldn't imagine a world where DJ was leading off for another team in 2021. Nightmare fuel. Thankfully don't have to deal with that. Around the horn Gleyber Torres will be manning short in what will be a huge season for his career. Torres came into the summer restart last year out of shape as Cashman admitted and it showed. He wasn't the same and didn't really get going until very late in the season. I'm expecting a monster season from the Yankees shortstop. One where he not only dispels everyone who says he doesn't have the glove for the position, but also accumulates a few MVP votes along the way. I'm as high on Gleyber as anyone on this team for the upcoming campaign. The guy is a superstar. 

Gio Urshela has recovered from offseason elbow surgery to be out there with no issues for Opening Day. How can you not love the happy fella? Rounding out the infield will be Jay Bruce, yes that Jay Bruce over at first. Voit will be down for about a month or so as he recovering from left knee surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus. In the mean time the veteran power lefty will man first and try to hold down the fort. It won't be pretty over there, but let's just hope he hits a few bombs and catches the baseball. All you can ask for. 

In the outfield we'll finally have Clint Frazier take the reins as the team's starting left fielder. Yes, Brett Gardner is back, but this is Clint's role now. The one he's busted his ass to earn. I'm very, very excited to see what Clint can do out there in a full 162 game season. Hammer Bag is Clint's self-approved nickname for 2021 and we're rolling with it. Don't shoot the messenger. 

All-Star is what I have in mind. In center you'll have Aaron Hicks and in right of course Aaron Judge. This is a huge year for Aaron Judge. With two years left until he hits the open market, Judge has to prove to this team and others as well that he can stay on the field for a full season. My confidence in that is waning, but all I need from him is 130 games and that's good enough for me. Even 120 games would be the most he's played since finishing as the runner up to Altuve in 2017 for the MVP. Crazy he played in 155 games back then isn't it? Let's have a year, 99. 

Behind the plate will be Gary Sanchez. Yes, he's back and this is it. No player's season matters more for their future than Gary's right now. You could argue Judge for his next contract, but Gary is playing for a starting job. The seat could not be any hotter for the Yankees' backstop. Sanchez comes off a brutal 2020 season where he hit .147/.253/.365. Still managed 10 homers in 49 games, but it was an unmitigated disaster for the most part. Sanchez was benched for Kyle Higashioka in the postseason and then wondered why that happened in the offseason. I'll still never understand why he said those quotes out loud. All of it was a mess. Gary needs to snap out of it this season plain and simple. Sucking up his pride and going to winter ball was a big step. Hopefully we see a locked in Gary Sanchez this season. Even if he hits .220 to .230 that probably means we got 35 homers out of him with a decent OPS. Can't be batting .147 with a .365 slugging. Just can't have it. 

The Bench

The Yankees will be carrying a bench of Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, Tyler Wade, and Kyle Higashioka. Gardy had to come back for whatever reason, which gives us 5 outfielders to begin the season. I was a strong proponent on bringing back Tauchman as opposed to many who wanted him traded. I love what he brings on defense and if we can get that 2019 stick going again I like what he can bring off the bench. Tauchman also is re-learning first base from his college days to make himself more useful to the team. He just wants to play any way he can and I love that. Tyler Wade really has no place on this team. He plays below average defense, gets out on the base paths way too much, and cannot hit for the life of him. He can play shortstop which I guess is why he's on the roster, although Gio Urshela proved he can do that as well this spring. If it were me, Derek Dietrich would have made the team over Wade.  Luckily he accepted an assignment to the alternate site, so maybe Wade's leash will be thin. Higashioka rounds out the bench and I'm curious to see how they handle him with Cole. Last season Higgy became Cole's personal catcher. The Yankees much prefer Gary's bat in there with Cole so it'll be interesting to see how 45 starts the year and if a change has to be made. Just catch the fucking ball Gary. 

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Starting Rotation  

The Yankees starting rotation will likely make or break them. On one side of the coin, with health these five guys could be rock solid and maybe one of the best staffs the team has had in a long time. On the other this could very well end up being a disaster. Your guess is as good as mine as to how it turns out. Everything starts and stop with Gerrit Cole obviously. That's the horse. The big gun. The Ace. It was a bit of a slow start for GC last season as he is accustomed to, but once he got going it was so much fun to watch. Worth every penny to this organization. Yankees haven't had a guy like him since CC's early days and I still don't think the level was there back then. Gerrit Cole is incredible to watch pitch for this team and I'm excited to see him do it in front of fans this time. 

Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon are the newcomers with the departures of Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ (HE'S ON THE TWINS!). Both Kluber and Taillon have basically not pitched in two seasons. Troublesome for sure, but the potential is still there. What can you expect out of them? I said if they can combine to give you 250 innings you take it and run. They're going to baby Taillon out the gate by skipping him through the first run of the rotation. I'm fine with it, two Tommy Johns is no joke. Kluber will start the second game of the season. There's been a big stink about his velo, but that's not worrying me. I care more about control with him rather than velocity. His nasty movement was there in spring with the vintage two seamer and breaking ball, just need him to stay healthy and throw strikes. I'm very excited to see what Jamo can bring to the table in 2021. Every year he's pitched and been healthy his numbers across the board are excellent. Obviously he's had a bad run of luck with testicular cancer and two TJ surgeries, but you have to love the mentality he has on life and what that arm can bring to the mound. If health is on his side, like many on this team, I like his chances.

Jordan Montgomery will be slotted in as the team's 4th starter in 2021. I'm high on Monty. I think last year being his first back from Tommy John you have to take it with a grain of salt. There were ups and downs, but he battled and capped it off with a strong outing against Tampa in Game 4 of the ALDS that kept the Yankees season alive. Love what I saw from him in spring and I think he has a big time season for New York that really opens some eyes. The big lefty pounds the zone, gives up soft contact, and has sneaky strikeout stuff. Let's breakout in 2021, big fella. 

Domingo German rounds out the rotation. Listen, there's no way around it, the dude is a scumbag. He's here, the team gave him a second chance so you just have to deal with it. All you can ask is he shows legitimate growth and change for who he was in the past. He's being judged daily by everyone in that room by his actions as he should. No one is giving him a free pass. He addressed the team at the beginning of spring and met with everyone individually. We'll see how the season goes with him and how he handles himself, but on the mound he can for sure help this team. Let's just hope the off the field stuff is over for good and he's a new man moving forward. I think everyone is treading lightly here and give Domingo a very, very short leash, 

There are many out there that don't give this rotation a chance and I think that's just their Yankee bias showing. These five guys are going to win ball games. I don't care how good their spring numbers were, I believe they can pitch and pitch well. Severino also comes back in July which will only further bolster the staff. Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia will help as well. This rotation has depth and quality. I'm a fan.

The Bullpen

The Yankees bullpen to me is the biggest question mark out of the whole organization, at least to start the season. Tommy Kahnle is on the Dodgers (breaks my fucking heart to type that out). Ottavino is on the Red Sox (gross). Zack Britton is out for months. Justin Wilson is starting the season on the injured list. Oh yeah and Aroldis Chapman is suspended for a few games dating back to the Rays incident last year. Not ideal if you ask me. That leaves Chad Green, newcomer Darren O'Day, Nick Nelson, Johnny Lasagna, Mike King, Luis Cessa, and spring training star Lucas Luetge to round out the pen. It's gonna be a bit of a mix and match shitshow no doubt to begin the season. Nelson can become a star quickly for this unit. Lasagna needs to finally put it all together. King has the potential to thrive in this role with his ramped up velocity. I'm going to fall in love with O'Day immediately I just know it. This bullpen isn't as strong as in year's past but that doesn't mean it can't be effective. 

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So that's the team heading into 2021. I'm confident in this group. They should win the East with ease. They should be able to win the American League over the White Sox, Twins, Astros, Jays, and Rays. A lot of teams got worse in the offseason while the Yankees basically stayed the same/got slightly better. Gimme 101 wins, an AL East crown, and finally a trip back to the World Series. Can't be talking about winning the WS if you can't even get there. Enough is enough, it's about damn time. 

Get me to tomorrow. Let's fucking go.