If it weren’t for the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees probably would have enjoyed a historic 2018 season.
The Bronx Bombers lived up the moniker, setting a new big league record for home runs in a season on their way to 100 wins. Boston’s own historic season ensured the Yankees finished a relatively staggering eight games back, and then the Sox ran through New York on their way to the franchise’s fourth World Series title in 15 years.
New York undoubtedly will be a force to be reckoned with this summer, and there’s no shortage of experts forecasting an even better 2019 campaign for the Yankees. MLB Network’s Chris Russo on Friday said he believes New York is poised to fly by the century mark for regular-season wins.
The Yankees will be good. They will be very good. But there are questions, too.
The biggest issue when you look at the Yankees is starting pitching. Quite frankly, it’s worth wondering how or if that staff will hold up over the course of the season. New York on Friday announced Luis Severino will be out until at least May 1 with a shoulder issue, which is something you never want to hear when it comes to a pitcher. Those issues can linger.
Behind Severino, there are other uncertainties. How much can the Yankees really expect out of CC Sabathia, the 38-year-old with knee issues who won’t be ready until mid-April? J.A. Happ pitched well for New York last year, but he’s getting up there in age, too, at 36. How will James Paxton handle his first season in New York?
Offensively, they’ll also be without Didi Gregorius for at least the first half of the season, and newly extended center fielder Aaron Hicks is banged up.
The Yankees’ bullpen truly has the potential to be the best of all time, and the heart of the order — when healthy and clicking — is the best in baseball. Those two things (not to mention the AL East pinata) should make them a playoff team.
But they saw firsthand last season the toll injuries can take on a team, and starting this season with little vacancy on the injured list should serve as a more recent reminder of how things can go sideways in a season. Chances are, the Yankees will be there in the end, but it might be a little too early to say with confidence that this team is ready to leapfrog the Red Sox, let alone put itself alongside some of the all-time great Yankees teams.
Thumbnail photo via Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports Images