WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 17: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees and the American League celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the second inning against the National League during the 89th MLB All-Star Game, presented by Mastercard at Nationals Park on July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Bronx Bombers begin another quest for their 28th World Series Championship, and with an influx of young talent coming up from the minor leagues (i.e. Watchung native Anthony Volpe, you may have heard of him), it feels like the Yankees could be closing in on a monstrous postseason run one of these days. But before Yankees fans start dreaming of World Series glory in November, the season is about to begin Thursday afternoon in the Boogie Down Bronx against the San Francisco Giants. Let’s look at the biggest headlines heading into the season.

  • 5: Volpe, Volpe, Volpe

    The biggest story surrounding Opening Day has nothing to do with Aaron Judge. Who would have thunk it?

    No, the biggest story for the Yankees right now is that of rookie short stop Anthony Volpe, who becomes the youngest Opening Day short stop since some guy named Derek Jeter in 1996. (You may have heard of him too).

    Volpe will wear number 11, last worn by Brett Gardner. The young man of course had to call Gardner to get his permission first.

    The Yankees have great hopes for Volpe, who was ranked as the top prospect in the Yankees system, and was a star last year with the Somerset Patriots. The Watchung, New Jersey native gets to live out a lifelong dream since he started rooting for the Yankees as a young boy.

  • 4: How Will Bullpen Shake Out?

    The Yankees enjoyed what many considered the best bullpen in baseball the past couple years, despite making a number of changes due to injuries or poor performance from some vets. Gone are Aroldis Chapman and Zach Britton.

    Clay Holmes is going to be the primary closer for this team. He was great in the first half of last year, before struggling late in the season. Jonathan Loaisiga is another trusted arm down in the pen for Aaron Boone. The Yankees need their pen to be great, especially with starting pitching concerns.

  • 3: Who Will Step Up Outside of Aaron Judge?

    Not only Aaron Judge, but also outside of Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton as well. The Yankees know what they will get out of their three boppers in the middle of the order. It’s the other guys like Aaron Hicks (.216 batting average), Josh Donaldson (.222 BA), Isiah Kiner-Falefa, D.J. LeMahieu — who is coming off of injury, and Gleyber Torres, all of whom need to step up.

    Even Stanton, who hit .211 last year and Rizzo, who hit .222 must step up with more consistent at bats.

    The Yankees have a lot of young guys in addition to Volpe coming up through the system. Oswaldo Cabrera is already here, and Estevan Florial is another top prospect that the Yankees would like to give a chance to. Even Oswald Peraza is a guy who could get looks at another position if the struggles of the veterans continue in 2023.

  • 2: Can Aaron Judge do it again?

    This is really not a fair question. Judge hit a franchise and American League record 62 home runs in 2022. To expect him to duplicate that, or even come close to 60+ home runs would be insane. Then again, the Yankees need Judge to put up big numbers. He was their most reliable bat last season, regardless of the home runs. A 45 to 50 home run season is certainly a reasonable expectation for the Yankees MVP.

  • 1: Can the Yankees get a Healthy Rotation Together?

     

    To quote the late great Keith Jackson, “Whoa nellie!”

    The Yanks enter the season with a battered rotation. Carlos Rodon whom the Yankees inked to a $162 million deal in the off-season has an elbow strain and has been on the injury list for most of Spring Training. He is expected back soon.

    Luis Severino is now out with a lat strain, but is expected to be back by mid-April.

    Frankie Montas suffered right shoulder inflamation and is not expected back until mid-season, at the earliest.

    This puts a lot of strain on Gerrit Cole to be the man until he can get some help in the coming weeks and months. Johnny Brito could find himself in the starting rotation as the fifth starter.

    Worse case scenario the Yankees might have to dip back into their farm system to acquire a starting pitcher by mid-season.

  • PREDICTION!

    The Yankees have plenty of talent to compete for a World Series title. They still need to get over the hump of the Houston Astros, and have to compete against an ever improving AL East with Toronto, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Boston. The Yankees should win 94 games, which will might be enough to outlast the Rays and Jays for first place. The playoffs are a different animal entirely.

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