For the first time since the spring opener, the Yankees donned their patented pinstripes on Sunday afternoon. In fact, throughout the spring, Meredith Marakovitz of YES Network has reported that the Yankees will wear them for all Sunday games. I’m not sure of the actual utility of doing this, but it at least makes these games feel a little more ‘real.’ On this Sunday, the Yankees downed the Phillies, 4-0, behind some solid pitching and timely hitting.
Montgomery Looking Solid
Jordan Montgomery will likely be taking on a much larger role this season in the rotation, specifically if Jameson Taillon or Corey Kluber suffer any more setbacks. While Montgomery has had his ups and downs as a member of the Yankees’ rotation to date, his spring performance has been encouraging.
On Sunday, Montgomery went three full innings with a strikeout; the lefty did not yield an earned run on the afternoon. Montgomery has never relied heavily on striking batters out, but his performance in which he allowed just two hits is certainly a welcome scene. The 28-year old Montgomery appears likely be the fourth starter in the rotation this season, behind Gerrit Cole, Kluber and Taillon. He may eventually be thrust into a larger role should injuries (which Yankees know all too well) become an issue once again.
Gardner Still Has Some Pop
In the bottom of the second inning, after a walk from Gleyber Torres and back-to-back opposite field singles from Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar, Brett Gardner stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. In classic Gardner style, he smacked a 1-2 breaking ball on the inner half from Zach Wheeler down the right field line into the Standing Room Only area.
The 37 year-old Gardner is set to be the fourth outfielder heading into the season with Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge set to be the opening day starters. Gardner, though, will likely get starts in left field as well as some spot starts in center field should Hicks show signs of regression on the defensive side. It’s somewhat of a surprise that Frazier is set to start the season in left, but don’t be shocked if you start to see a lot more of Gardner in there as the season rolls along.
Giancarlo Stanton Finally Gets Going
After going hitless in his first four at-bats of the spring, Giancarlo Stanton finally got going as he laced two doubles on the day. One came in the bottom of the first off of Wheeler, ripping a first pitch offering down the left field line. Stanton’s second double of the afternoon came in the bottom of the fifth as the slugger smacked an offering from former Yankee Ivan Nova over the head of center fielder Roman Quinn.
As we’ve come to know, Stanton has had immense injury issues that have kept him from staying on the field consistently. The former NL MVP has played in just 41 of the last 222 games, leaving many frustrated with his Yankees tenure thus far. Stanton remedied that a bit in the 2020 postseason when he homered in five straight games on his way to nearly carrying the Yankees through the ALDS. If Stanton can pick up where he left off last season, the Yankees may finally get the production that they paid for. Seeing him hit a couple balls hard in spring can certainly be an indicator of good things to come as opening day approaches.
Lucas Luetge Continues to Make a Case for a Roster Spot
With potentially another roster spot up for grabs, the Yankees could be looking at filling that hole with lefty Lucas Luetge. The organization signed the 28-year old to a minor league deal back in January and on Sunday, Luetge struck out the top of the Phillies order (McCutchen, Gregorius and Harper) in a perfect sixth inning.
With basically seven locks for the Yankees’ bullpen thus far (Chapman, Britton, Green, Wilson, Loaisiga, O’Day and Cessa), an eighth spot remains up for the taking. With minor league options remaining for both Michael King and Nick Nelson, the Yankees may look to give Luetge a chance on the MLB Roster to start the season.
Not only did Luetge pitch well on Sunday, but he’s been proving himself throughout the early part of spring. Prior to this outing, Luetge pitched two innings and had allowed just two hits and no walks while striking out five. Overall, he now sits at three innings pitched with eight strikeouts, which is nothing short of impressive. Given that the Yankees could use another left-handed reliever in the bullpen, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Luetge fill that hole f he continues to pitch as well as he has.