Yankees Q&A With Stacey Gotsulias

If you throw a dart in the air, it will probably land somewhere where Ms. Gotsulias writes. You can catch her work at BP Bronx, Baseball Prospectus, Behind The Boxscore, and The Hardball Times. Follow her on Twitter @StaceGots. She was kind enough to give us some time to fill us in on the residents of The Boogey Down. 

First up, will Aaron Judge turn a baseball this season into something that is not on the Periodic table? He showed big time power in the minors, so this is pretty much real, right?

Most casual observers are in shock at the turnaround Aaron Judge has made. Last year, he looked completely lost at the plate. This year, the adjustments he’s made have been damn near miraculous. But, as the story goes, he has done this at every level. You think he’s being overpowered then he makes adjustments and he starts raking. The thing I like about him is that he’s not just a power threat. He’s hitting singles, he’s taking walks, and he’s having long at bats. I think Judge may just be the real deal.

The entire Yankees lineup has gone plaid in the season’s first month. How much of it do you expect to keep up anything resembling this pace and how much do you think will fade into the dark as the season goes along?

The Yankees have a number of guys who can hit and when the majority of them are “on” at the same time, they are a dangerous team. Any time you think they’re down and can’t possibly come back, they do. Will they keep up this ridiculous pace? Probably not. But, if they stay healthy, the rest of the AL better look out.

Masahiro Tanaka’s strikeout rate is down about a third and his walk-rate has nearly doubled in the season’s first month. Any reason for concern here?

Before his latest start against Toronto, I would have said, “Nah! He’s getting guys to ground out, he’s fine!” But after that start? (four runs on eight hits—two home runs—in 6 ⅓ innings) I’m a little concerned. In six starts, thus far, he has 26 strikeouts. He had 35 after six starts last year and 39 in 2015. We’ll have to see how his next few starts go but, yes, I’m a bit concerned.

Is this what Luis Severino is?

I think so. He’ll get a lot of strikeouts, won’t surrender a lot of walks, but guys will also make a lot of contact and sometimes that contact will turned into home runs. But I’d take an ERA in the 3’s from a fourth starter any day of the week.

He had a really nice start against Boston last week and scuffled a bit against Toronto. It will be interesting to see how he pitches against the defending champs. It could go really well or horribly wrong.

Are the Yankees really ready to make a run at the division over a whole season? Or is this first month something of a cheap thrill before settling in for maybe a wild card chase?

I am not psychic and I have been wrong so many times when it comes to making predictions about the Yankees so I will be careful here. Can I see them doing it? Can I see the Yankees making a run this year? Sure. Again, a lot of things have to go right and stay right, but stranger things have happened. Teams you didn’t take a second glance at during Spring Training will have a bunch of things go right for them and then make a “miraculous” run to the playoffs. If I have to choose, I’d say Wild Card, but as they always say, you can’t predict baseball.

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