Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A Yankees-Guardians series never disappoints, be it regular season or playoffs. For all we know, this three-game series in April is yet another postseason preview. In this case, New York won two of three to continue a great start to 2023.

Cleveland took a late lead in the series opener and held off a Yankees rally. Gerrit Cole shoved in the second game behind the lineup’s strong performance. The Yankees then took their turn to rally late in the rubber game, and Clay Holmes notched the game-winning strikeout with two outs and bases loaded.

And just for fun, let’s throw in a little umpiring chaos.

Sure sounds like a playoff preview, doesn’t it?

Some takeaways:

The Hicks-Cordero Conundrum. In case you’ve missed it, Franchy Cordero is proving general manager Brian Cashman’s latest genius signing. The veteran journeyman already has four home runs, including two in this series, and is batting .280 with a team-best 11 RBI. Cordero also makes regular hard contact and has a strong arm in the outfield, though not the best glove.

This means we can officially consider Aaron Hicks in Joey Gallo territory, especially when Harrison Bader comes back. His contract means he’ll draw a start here and there and (hopefully) be on a new team by the deadline. It’s more likely Cashman finally cuts bait on Isiah Kiner-Falefa. How about cutting Hicks too and then calling up Oswald Peraza?

There’s Waldo! The Yankees already have a valuable everyday utility player in DJ LeMahieu. Who would have guessed they’d soon have a second in Oswaldo Cabrera, except he can also play the outfield? The switch-hitter had three hits in two games this series, including the go-ahead RBI single on Wednesday. Cabrera’s sacrifice fly on Tuesday also gave New York the lead for good.

Cabrera is still finding his power with that long swing but got his batting average up to .286. Once Bader is back and Hicks is more formally benched, count on him getting some more outfield reps.

The Bronx is bullpenning. The Yankees having a strong group of relievers is almost automatic at this point. The bullpen’s excellence was on full display Wednesday after Clarke Schmidt, in arguably his best start of the season, allowed three runs in four innings. The Guardians’ bats went largely silent the rest of the game.

Ron Marinaccio worked out of trouble. Michael King pitched two dominant innings. Wandy Peralta was near-automatic and Holmes proved he’s no Aroldis Chapman.

And might I add, the Yankees have the following key relievers on the injured list: Jonathan Loaisiga, Lou Trivino, and Tommy Kahnle. The bullpen already looks great. Just imagine what it could be once everyone’s healthy.

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.