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Yankees 7, Pirates 5: Kluber satisfies in first TV outing

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The free agent acquisition was just fine on the mound in Tampa.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Yankees Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

If you felt like this was the 15th time the Yankees have played the Pirates this spring, you weren’t alone. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t watching a replay myself. At the end of the day, the Yankees took the latest contest with Pittsburgh, 7-5.

I’m not sure what to think of Corey Kluber. I have quite a bit of a breakdown of his pitch usage for tomorrow, so I won’t get into that here, but I thought he was fine. His 54 pitches went smoothly, as we saw the entire repertoire, and he notched 11 whiffs on those 54 pitches. If he manages to do that in the regular season, he’s probably set up well for success.

However, Kluber was also hit very hard, with 40 percent of his contact in excess of 95 mph. The home run he allowed to Troy Strokes Jr. illustrated that he still has a few location issues to work out:

Kluber also plunked two batters, showing that he still struggles with control and keeping his pitches in the strike zone. I’m optimistic to see what else Kluber can do this spring, and today wasn’t a bad start by any means. He just didn’t command my attention the way that, say, Jameson Taillon has so far in exhibition play.

Justin Wilson, meanwhile, continued to struggle in spring ball. He managed just a single whiff on 17 pitches, allowing two baserunners in his one inning of work. Chad Green also had a rough day after a brilliant spring debut, giving up a long two-run home run to Rodolfo Castro. On the other hand, closer Aroldis Chapman seemed to be in midseason form while showing off the splitter that could prove pivotal to his success in 2021:

DJ LeMahieu paced the team at the plate — shocker — with a pair of hits, both hit at an exit velocity above 95 mph, and one of them carried over the right-field fence for a three-run home run:

One of the potential risks facing LeMahieu this season is whether or not those line drives to right will still carry out of the ballpark with a deadened baseball, so it’s encouraging to see that he can still do that in spring. Aaron Hicks added two hits of his own, including a nifty bunt against the shift.

The Yankees are back at it tomorrow in a non-televised game against the Blue Jays. Deivi García gets the start at 1:07pm Eastern.