A peek at the Yankees’ most plausible 2024 Opening Day lineup
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Yankees fans are just a fortnight away from the initial Spring Training session for pitchers and catchers, basking in the Florida sun. In precisely eight weeks, the Yankees will position themselves at Minute Maid Park, ready to kick off the 2024 regular season against the Astros.
With these dates drawing near, we can now start envisioning the makeup of the Opening Day roster. However, as General Manager Brian Cashman often emphasizes, there’s a considerable amount of time before reaching the “pencils down” moment to solidify the roster, leading up to the July 31 Trade Deadline.
Cashman emphasized the team’s optimism and excitement about their current roster, stating, “We like what we have; we’re excited about what we have.” However, he acknowledged that success is not guaranteed, emphasizing the need to earn it through having the most talent and insurance policies within reason.
Let’s attempt to construct the optimal 26-player lineup for the Bombers, utilizing individuals presently within the organization and incorporating insights from the 2024 Steamer projections.
Yankees starting pitchers
Who are: Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, Nestor Cortes, Clarke Schmidt
The recent inclusion of Marcus Stroman, known for his sinkerball prowess, seems to have solidified the starting rotation, signaling the Yankees’ disengagement from pursuing free agent Blake Snell. Gerrit Cole, the reigning American League Cy Young Award recipient, is anticipated to maintain his stellar performance with Steamer’s projections foreseeing a 3.73 ERA across 200 innings for the dependable ace. The team places its expectations on bounce-back seasons from Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes, with metrics favoring Rodón, suggesting a 3.79 ERA over 163 1/3 innings.
Who are: Clay Holmes (Closer), Scott Effross, Victor González, Ian Hamilton, Tommy Kahnle, Jonathan Loáisiga, Ron Marinaccio, Luke Weaver
This section remains an area of focus for the Yankees as they aim to enhance it before the commencement of the regular season. Despite the recent signings of free-agent relievers Josh Hader, Hector Neris, and Wandy Peralta with other teams, the Yankees are determined to fortify their bullpen. Loáisiga and Kahnle are anticipated to assume key roles as primary setup men for Holmes, who is projected to secure 32 saves with a 3.25 ERA. The acquisition of left-handed pitcher Gonzalez in December is viewed as a potentially impactful and overlooked addition, and Effross’ return from surgery is poised to add strength to the bullpen staff.
Who are: Jose Trevino, Austin Wells
Following the trade that sent Kyle Higashioka to the Padres as part of the Juan Soto deal, Austin Wells now finds himself with a direct route to secure a spot on the Opening Day roster. Wells, who showcased his prowess with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 19 games towards the end of the previous season, has emerged as a promising candidate. However, the majority of the playing time is expected to be entrusted to Trevino, with Boone expressing confidence in his recovery from wrist surgery last July, stating that Trevino is progressing exceptionally well.
Who are: DJ LeMahieu, Oswald Peraza, Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, Anthony Volpe
While there have been sporadic rumors about potential interest in Matt Chapman, Cashman has firmly asserted that the infield lineup is settled. According to Cashman’s vision, LeMahieu is slated for third base, Volpe at shortstop, Torres at second base, and Rizzo at first base. Cashman provided assurance regarding Rizzo’s condition, stating that he “feels great” and has been “100 percent cleared” from the concussion issue that hampered his performance during the 2023 season.
Who are: Oswaldo Cabrera, Trent Grisham, Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo
Soto’s transition to the Bronx holds the potential for a stellar season, with Steamer projections envisioning the left-handed slugger achieving an impressive .984 OPS and a 6.7 fWAR. Judge is gearing up for his role as the primary center fielder, a position he welcomes, with metrics forecasting 46 home runs, a .949 OPS, and a 6.2 fWAR. Verdugo is set to cover the expansive left field at Yankee Stadium. Grisham is anticipated to contribute as a defensive substitute, receiving starting opportunities when Judge assumes the role of designated hitter. Cabrera may play a versatile utility role, and Jasson Dominguez is slated for a return in the summer.
Who is: Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton aims for a resurgence following a challenging 2023 season, during which he recorded a career-low batting average of .191. Emphasizing conditioning and diet, Stanton has visibly trimmed down, catching the attention of Cashman, who commented on the noticeable change in a snapshot, saying, “That picture obviously showed a lot.” Steamer’s projections anticipate a positive trajectory for Stanton, forecasting 26 home runs and 67 RBIs in 105 games.
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