The New York Yankees are largely staying the course and preparing for Opening Day as we head into the final week of spring training.
Spring training games are such that an overall uneventful week is a good thing, even for the high-profile New York Yankees.
No, seriously. The Bronx Bombers are no different than snowbirding grandparents getting ready to head back north in the spring. It’s almost time to head home, so try not to plan anything big and involved for the coming days. Stick to the routine, close up the house, pack the car, and turn on some Glen Campbell.
As for the Yankees, they went 4-2 over the past week and everything was largely par for the course. The battle for the fifth starter’s job continued along with other positional battles. One Yankee made very clear why he’s someone to watch this season.
This makes this week the dress rehearsal for the regular season, and the New York Yankees seem in a pretty good position.
The new Jordan Montgomery
Mark my words. Jordan Montgomery is in line for a breakout campaign in 2021. The tall lefty dazzled in his St. Patrick’s Day outing against the Toronto Blue Jays, tossing five no-hit innings. This lowered his spring ERA to 0.90.
Even better was Montgomery was mixing his pitches well. His fastball touched 94.5 and his curveball was biting. He also showcased an improved changeup and toyed with a cutter.
New York Yankees fans look at a tall lefty like Montgomery and immediately think Andy Pettitte. The parallels are just too obvious to ignore.
Now, let’s see if the 28-year-old can pitch like the vintage southpaw.
The Jay Bruce paradox
We all remember prime Jay Bruce. He was a star outfielder for a young and fun Cincinnati Reds team, and his smooth lefty swing came with sometimes eye-popping power.
Now, Bruce is 33 and with the New York Yankees on a minor league contract. He spent the abbreviated 2020 season with the Philadelphia Phillies and hit .198 with six homers and 14 RBI in 32 games.
However, Bruce is out to prove he can still go. He even said so to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com: “I know I’m good enough to be on the roster. If I’m healthy, I’m a good option.”
Bruce isn’t a strong fielder anymore, but is batting .231 with a pair of home runs in spring training. The Yankees could choose him, Derek Dietrich, or someone else entirely for the final roster spot. But if he can set himself apart this final week, then his perfect-for-Yankee Stadium swing could be too hard to let go.
The fifth starter race
This week will be the decider for who the New York Yankees’ No. 5 starter is, and Domingo German and Deivi Garcia each made strong cases.
German faced the Phillies to start the week and continued his strong spring, tossing four shutout innings with a walk and six strikeouts. On top of a great outing, he kept his ERA at 0.00.
Garcia also faced the Phillies, albeit on Friday, and pitched three no-hit innings. Yet, he issued four walks and showed he’s still very much developing.
As much as we don’t want it to happen, this is very much Domingo German’s job right now. Unless he chokes this week and Garcia dazzles, odds are he’ll open the season holding up the back end while the youngster heads to the minors.