Baseball is back. The Astros get back to action on Monday against the New York Yankees in a rematch of the 2015 American League Wild Card game. Both teams made small moves to improve already potent lineups. We talked with SBNation's excellent Yankees blog, Pinstripe Alley about Opening Day. Pinstripe Alley's editorial staff Tanya Bondurant, Jason Cohen, Andrew Mearns, and Caitlin Rogers were kind enough to answer the questions.
The article will normally be just three questions, but since it's Opening Day we added one more for good measure:
There seem to be some reservations with Masahiro Tanaka starting on Opening Day, what are your thoughts on him and the rest of the Yankees starting pitching? Is that the biggest question around the Yankees?
It does not come as a surprise that Masahiro Tanaka was selected to be the Yankees' Opening Day starter. He did undergo offseason surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow, but he appears to be healthy now. None of the other starters have performed well enough to be considered the clear ace of the staff. For the most part, the rotation has a lot of potential, although there are definitely some concerns about whether the starters can stay healthy.
Is the team, the fans and your staff optimistic about the 2016 season? Where do you project the Yankees at the end of the season?
The Yankees always think they have a championship caliber team, even when they literally don't spend a dime in free agency. Despite their inaction, the Yankees are still sitting pretty thanks to some savvy trades for Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro, and Aroldis Chapman (despite his suspension). Brian Cashman has been able to inject some youth into the team, but they are asking a lot from a slew of guys in their mid-30s to 40s, so health will be important.
It's hard to get a good read on what Yankees fans think of the team because anything other than a World Series the year before is like finishing with a losing record to a lot of them. The Yankees will be a good team on paper and should finish somewhere around 85-90 wins again to remain in the playoff hunt. It really just matters how well everyone else does around them.
Any lingering animosity towards the Astros after the Wild Card game among Yankees fans?
There is no reason for any hard feelings. The Yankees didn't play well and the Astros did. It seemed fairly obvious that the team was running out of gas down the stretch, and the Wild Card game was just the final evidence of that. It's a new season now, and it would be silly to still be angry about something that happened six months ago.
Is anyone that Astros fans should be looking out for that impressed during Spring Training for the Yankees?
After badly slumping down the stretch, lefty Chasen Shreve went from being a pivotal member of the bullpen to not even appearing on the Wild Card game roster. This spring, though, he seems to have rediscovered the form that helped him carry a 1.89 ERA through the end of August. With Aroldis Chapman suspended for the first month, Shreve will be needed in several key spots early on, and at his best, he's more dangerous than a simple LOOGY.