There are a ton of “ifs” surrounding the Yankees this season. They could break their two-year postseason slump if all goes well, but hardly anything is for certain in the lineup, rotation or bullpen.
We start with the everyday players, and the Bombers once again send out a very old lineup. Veterans like Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran are good when healthy but all three of them had trouble staying on the field in 2014.
Then there is the headache known as A-Rod. Alex Rodriguez returns at age 39 after a year-long suspension. He was surprisingly good in Spring Training but we’ll see if he can channel his vintage stuff when the game is at full-speed come Opening Day.
Steven Drew is the second baseman by default considering the dreadful 2014 he had.
Bright spots in the lineup include leadoff-man extraordinaire Brett Gardner, along with Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley.
Didi Gregorius will be filling Derek Jeter’s shoes at shortstop; fans should not expect a great deal of production at the plate but his defensive skills are solid.
There are questions surrounding every pitcher in the rotation. Will Masahiro Tanaka stay healthy? He was fantastic when he was on the mound last year but only narrowly avoided Tommy John surgery. No player means more to the Yankees’ playoff hopes than Tanaka.
The health question could also be asked of Michael Pineda, who has had a great deal of trouble finding the field since the Yankees dealt for him in 2013.
Will CC Sabathia recapture his old form, or will he at least be decent and stay healthy? Injuries have eroded him.
Nathan Eovaldi was a gamble on the part of the Yankees’ brass when they got him from Miami; he could live up to the advanced metrics and rebound off a bad 2014, or he could get lit up going from the NL to the AL.
The fifth starter is Chris Capuano, a journeyman who is only a placeholder until Ivan Nova comes back in June, but Nova was awful in 2014 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, so he is no sure thing.
The bullpen was ranked only 19th in the league last year, so while the overhaul it got in the offseason was welcome, the results may not be that much better in 2015.
Dellin Betances will try to replace David Robertson, who left for the White Sox, in the closer role. He seems capable of doing that based on his strong 2014. Andrew Miller was brought in through free agency to compete with Betances for save opportunities, while mainly filling in as the set-up man. This is a strong righty-lefty punch at the back of the pen.
But things get murkier from here. Esmil Rogers, a journeyman starter with a 5.54 career ERA, will be in long relief.
David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve, acquired from the Braves, will provide middle relief. Carpenter was decent last year while Shreve pitched just 15 innings in his first season in the bigs. He did quite well, putting up a 0.73 ERA, but it remains to be seen if hitters will “figure him out.”
Justin Wilson, brought in from the Pirates, will likely be the mop-up man as he had a 4.20 ERA last year.
Adam Warren returns as the “do-it-all” reliever. He had a 2.90 ERA in 2014, that’s about as much as you can ask from him.
Overall the bullpen projects to be slightly better than last year’s but the Yankees sorely miss Mariano Rivera.
1. LF Brett Gardner
2. 3B Chase Headley
3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
4. 1B Mark Teixeira
5. C Brian McCann
6. RF Carlos Beltran
7. DH Alex Rodriguez
8. SS Didi Gregorius
9. 2B Stephen Drew
BENCH: Garrett Jones, Brendan Ryan, Chris Young, Austin Romine
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
LHP CC Sabathia
RHP Michael Pineda
RHP Nathan Eovaldi
RHP Chris Capuano, to be replaced by RHP Ivan Nova
RHP Esmil Rogers
RHP Adam Warren
RHP David Carpenter
LHP Chasen Shreve
LHP Justin Wilson
LHP Andrew Miller
RHP Dellin Betances