The sun is shining, the grass is green, people are refusing to follow public health guidelines, we’re all far too obsessed with Gary Sánchez’s at-bats ... baseball — even exhibition, seven-inning baseball — is back. The Yankees dropped their first spring contest, losing 6-4 to the Blue Jays in a planned seven-inning game.
Michael King did not look good in his first outing of the Grapefruit League season. Any kind of serious evaluation at this point in the spring is pretty foolish, but the results in two innings weren’t what we wanted. On the plus side, King touched 97 with his fastball and sat around 96. He’s been very public about the time he’s spent in the Gas Station, the Yankees’ spring pitch design facility, and hopefully that’ll lead to a breakthrough of sorts for the righthander.
A pair of RBI doubles and hit batters highlighted King’s potential location troubles. He struggled mostly with locating inside to righties, hitting two and nearly plunking Bo Bichette on a second inning walk. The increased velocity is promising, and I thought his changeup looked good – 40 percent whiff rate with sample size caveats, of course — but there’s still a ways to go with him. Again, it’s just the first two innings of spring training, so no sense getting too worked up one way or the other.
Adam Warren and Lucas Luetge both got work in as well, pitching shutout innings with a pair of strikeouts each. None of the six Yankee pitchers retired the side in order, giving the Blue Jays plenty of plate appearances with men on base.
Offensively, the Yankees were paced by home runs, which is one aspect of their game that we can be confident will continue into the regular season. Mike Tauchman, in need of a strong spring training, took Jacob Waguespack deep in the fifth inning, just after likely Triple-A catcher Rob Brantly hit a two-run bomb. Gleyber Torres also had a double to go along with a nifty defensive play at short.
Luke Voit didn’t do much at the plate, but did add a memorable bit of off-color commentary.
The Yankees continue their spring campaign tomorrow, with both Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon scheduled to pitch against the Detroit Tigers. This will be our first chance to see Taillon work against opposing hitters, and first pitch comes at 1:05pm eastern.