Despite the New York Yankees Opening Day loss, second baseman Starlin Castro looks like he’s about to have yet another torrid April.Opening Day didn’t go as planned for the New York Yankees as they fell to the Tampa Bay Rays by a score of 7-3 for a franchise record-setting sixth straight Opening Day loss. As one would assume, there weren’t a lot of positives to take from it.
Masahiro Tanaka‘s third straight Opening Day start was a dud, the Bamber Bombers struggled immensely and nine runners were left-on-base. As manager Joe Girardi would say, it’s not what you want.
One of the lone bright spots, however, was the play of second baseman Starlin Castro, who looks as if he is going to continue a trend he’s been riding throughout his seven-year major league career: a torrid start to the regular season.
During Sunday’s contest with the Rays, Castro went 3-for-4 with three singles off Tampa Bay’s ace Chris Archer, a run scored and three total bases.
Last season, the 27-year-old ripped a RBI double off Dallas Keuchel Opening Day, then went on to maintain a .305/.345/.488 slash line, a 1.84 win probability added and 123 Weighted Runs Created (wRC) throughout the month of Apri. Imagine what the team’s 9-17 start would have looked like without that kind of production.
Starlin also owns a career .316/.342/.447 slash line with 13 home runs and 76 RBI’s in 143 career games while his .789 OPS in the opening month of the season is higher than any other month for the righty.
Yes, those numbers do occur early in the season and have rarely been sustained over the course of 162 games for Castro, but the Yankees desperately need their second baseman to continue his tendency to perform well out of the gate.
Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Obviously, the Yankees would want that type of production for a full season but with shortstop Didi Gregorius out until mid-May, an encore presentation would be so significant.
Last season, Gregorius became just the third shortstop in team history to hit .275 and hit 20 home runs. That’s a reliable bat Girardi is missing in the middle of his lineup and while Ronald Torreyes and Pete Kozma will be platooning in his absence, it’s paramount that the Yankees get off to a strong start or at least tread water until Gregorius’ return if contention is on their agenda.
I already mentioned last season’s start and how Starlin Castro probably kept that slow start from being 10-times worse than it was. To take that a step further, it also served as evidence that, despite how it may feel, a ballgame in April counts the same as one in mid-September.
If New York didn’t have their worst start since 1992 last year, we’re looking at a completely different season as the start proved way too much to overcome. In fact, it had the team dancing the tango with the .500 mark quite a few times during the summer despite being on a 90 win pace after May 5.
If that narrative is going to see a change, a competitive April is beyond imperative. Losing Gregorius a gigantic blow, but if Castro, who’s off to a terrific start per usual, does his thing, he can assist in the Yankees’ quest to bypass one of the many painful features of the 2016 season.