The Yankees only got five innings of baseball in on Opening Night, but here re three subtle storylines New York fans may have missed.
Yankees fans desperate to see their favorite team play baseball were disappointed only to get five innings of action on Thursday night. Even so, there were quite a few interesting storylines coming out of the team’s 4-1 win over the Nationals. Some of the most interesting talking points coming out of Opening Night might have escaped the attention of many fans.
This article isn’t going to focus on the obvious. It was clear to everyone that Giancarlo Stanton was locked in at the plate. Instead, let’s focus on three subtle observations that might become very important for the Yankees in the coming weeks.
3. Tyler Wade can make a difference
The absence of D.J. LeMahieu from the Opening Night lineup wasn’t unexpected, but it was still a disappointment. Credit Wade for doing everything within his power to fill in for arguably the Yankees’ most important infielder.
Wade got to the plate on two occasions against Washington ace Max Scherzer and he hurt the Nationals both times. The young infielder earned a walk his first time up which helped force Scherzer into throwing extra pitches. That turned out not to be overly important to the rain-shortened game, but it was a positive sign for Wade’s maturity.
His clever bunt in his only official plate appearance was even more encouraging. It allowed him to earn a base hit for himself while also moving everyone up 90 feet. The bottom line is that Wade doesn’t need to be a star to help the Yankees in 2020. If he can be any sort of positive force in the batter’s box his defense and speed will make him a valuable utility player as the season rolls along. Opening Night was a big step in the right direction for Wade.
2. Slim hitters are better hitters
Plenty of young players want to impress their organizations by bulking up in the offseason. In sharp contrast, veterans sometimes need to drop pounds during the winter. Two important Yankees’ starters did just that.
The aforementioned Stanton looks to be in significantly better shape than he’s ever been during his Yankees career. He isn’t going to launch towering home runs every game as a result, but his weight loss should help him stay healthy in 2020.
Luke Voit’s transformation is even more visually jarring. He looks like a completely different person. It didn’t help him get a hit against Scherzer, but the increase in agility should pay dividends for Voit as the summer progresses.
1. Gerrit Cole can win ugly
Cole’s final stat line of five innings pitched with only one hit surrendered looks pretty good. Those who watched the game know he was fortunate to get away with some serious mistakes against the Nationals.
Yankees fans should still be encouraged by Cole’s outing. It’s no secret he can dominate the opposition when he’s got his best stuff. The development on Opening Night is that he can fight through periods when his command is lacking and still deliver elite results for his team. Cole’s performance showed the Yankees that he’s just the legitimate ace they’ve been lacking in recent years.