Monday night’s spring training game between the Yankees and Tigers didn’t feature much star power. In fact, center fielder Harrison Bader is the only one who played and has a guaranteed place in the Bombers’ Opening Day lineup.
However, this game still proved exciting despite meaning nothing. Aside from the Yankees’ minor leaguers coming back from down 5-2 to win 8-5, MLB’s new rules were on display. The pitch clock kept the game moving. Balls were actually put in play. Stolen bases are a thing again.
Some quick takeaways:
Shaking off the rust. Luis Severino made his first spring training start and was noticeably not himself. His fastball was not only flat, but stayed up in the zone. He had the same problem with his slider and cutter. The Tigers took full advantage and scored three runs in the first inning.
Thankfully, Severino settled down in his second inning of work and induced three groundouts. This start was also just a simple tuneup. Remember, he got off to a slow start in spring training last year too and was fine by Opening Day. This season should be no different, especially with his free agency looming.
The pitch clock is in play. For all of the moaning and groaning about the pitch clock, fans might be onto something about the short games. Yankees-Tigers was clocked at just 2 hours and 23 minutes. The pitch clock and increased pace did indeed speed up the game, so much that some innings seemed like they literally flew by.
But let’s put this in context. These are the earliest spring training games, where starters only play a few innings and youngsters handle the rest. Who’s to say games won’t gradually run longer once more MLB regulars start playing more? The shift being banned means more hits and actual baseball plays. Let’s see it in action a bit more before completely writing it off as bad for the game.
Let the kids play. The best part about early spring training games is watching a team’s young prospects playing, especially those nearing their MLB debut. Future star shortstop Anthony Volpe was in the lineup, albeit at second base. Jasson Dominguez was a late substitution and had a single with two runs scored.
But the top prospects didn’t win the game for New York. A-level outfielder Tayler Aguilar, who hit .326 with 23 home runs for Grand Canyon University last year, had a two-run double. Unknown infielder Jesus Bastidas’ single drove in the go-ahead runs.
Neither player will play in the majors this year but if they keep playing well in spring training, they’ll be tougher to ignore down on the farm.
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