New York Yankees: Three quick Opening Day predictions for the Yanks in 2019

New York Yankees (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
New York Yankees (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

As the 2019 MLB season kicks off, the New York Yankees’ expectations couldn’t be higher. Now, with a few new faces on the roster, let’s look at which players will help the Yanks get back on top and bring home number 28.

Following a disappointing season finish to rival Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and the front office did what they had to do in free agency and through trades to improve the roster for Opening Day. While there wasn’t many flashy George Steinbrenner-era moves made, they certainly did get better.

Adding James Paxton to round out the rotation, and grabbing Adam Ottavino, the best relief pitcher on the market, were huge moves to bolster the pitching staff. Cashman also found infield depth in DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki. In addition to the free agent signees, the Yanks also invested in their homegrown talent by signing Luis Severino to a 4-year deal.

Now that the roster is set for Opening Day, let’s make some way-too-early predictions for the highly anticipated 2019 season.

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Giancarlo Stanton will lead the team in home runs for a second straight year.

While this certainly isn’t a hot take considering Giancarlo Stanton belted a combined 97 home runs over the past two seasons, including a team-high 38 last year, he will have stiff competition with a myriad of fellow sluggers on the roster. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are the two most likely candidates to compete with Stanton in this category, but I believe Stanton comes back with a vengeance this year.

After struggling to adjust to New York during the start of the season, Stanton adjusted well when the weather heated up, and was a snub for the All-Star team. Even with a healthy Judge and a refocused Sanchez, Stanton will just edge out his teammates in this category.

James Paxton emerges as the team’s ace.

For the Yankees to have a shot at winning the World Series, they need more production from their starting pitching. With Luis Severino shelved for at least a month, they need their newly acquired pitcher to step up.

James Paxton didn’t put up gaudy numbers in his six seasons with Seattle, in fact he was a model of inconsistency with a mediocre 3.42 ERA in six seasons with the Mariners. However, looking deeper into the numbers, you can see that Paxton’s strikeout rate since 2016 equals Clayton Kershaw’s, his walk rate is better than Jacob deGrom’s, and his per-pitch whiff rate has risen in each of the past three seasons, according to The Ringer.

The Yankees shipped off a few prospects in order to get Paxton in pinstripes, including highly-touted Justus Sheffield. So the fans and organization are expecting big things from the 6’6″ Canadian. For as much skill as Paxton possesses, I believe his best baseball is in front of him and should thrive as the Yankees ace in 2019.

The Yankees win the division race with Boston. 

Last season, Boston basically locked up the AL East by early August. Even with 100 wins, the Yankees had no shot to match Boston’s historic season that was capped with a World Series title. To add insult to injury, Boston steamrolled the Yankees in the ALDS on route to their championship.

Despite all that, Boston did little to improve their roster in the offseason and the Yanks did many things to improve theirs. The Red Sox lost Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel to deplete their already depleted bullpen. While they still have one of the best starters in the game in Chris Sale, and some of the game’s best offensive weapons in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, it’s highly unlikely Boston can match what they did in 2018.

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The Bronx Bombers got embarrassed by Boston last year, so now with a reloaded roster, they should be more than than ready to come back stronger than ever this year.