The Yankees dropped the opening series of the new season, losing two of three to the Blue Jays. Next up is a team that — technically in this very young season — is even further ahead of them than Toronto now is.
For the second series of the season, the first-place Baltimore Orioles are coming to town, fresh off a three-game sweep of the Red Sox, outscoring Boston 18-5. That may very well be more of an indictment on Boston than anything else.
The Orioles’ rotation on paper isn’t anything scary, and at one point over the offseason, Baltimore had playoff odds of 0.0%. Last season, the Yankees got the better of them in the season series, but Baltimore did annoy them somewhat, winning three of the ten games (much better than their appalling 2-17 showing in 2019, anyway).
Before the two teams kick off their 2021 season series tonight, let’s take a look at the matchups we’ll see.
Monday: Jordan Montgomery vs. Jorge López
Monday will bring the 2021 debut of Jordan Montgomery. Last year was his first “full” season (even though, you know) back since Tommy John surgery, and it was up and down. However, the southpaw was excellent this spring and has people hopeful that he can get back to the form that saw him get Rookie of the Year votes back in 2017.
López is a former top-100 prospect whose major league career has not gone great. A right-hander, he made his debut in 2015 for the Brewers and was on several of the top prospect lists ahead of 2016. López struggled badly that season and ended up getting demoted down to Double-A. After working his way back, he seemed to breakthrough in 2018, pitching well enough in 19.2 innings to be included in the Brewers’ trade for Mike Moustakas.
However, López’s ERAs with Kansas City never dipped below six and he was eventually claimed off waivers by the Orioles last year. A solid spring training saw him make the Baltimore rotation, but whether he can actually put together a good regular season remains to be seen.
Tuesday: Gerrit Cole vs. Dean Kremer
Thanks to the off-day after the season opener, the Yankees have been able to fiddle with their rotation and bring back Cole for an early second start. In his “Yankee Stadium with fans” debut, he fanned eight Blue Jays in 5.1 innings of work and looked pretty darn close to the man the Yankees signed to the big deal — even if the end result of the game didn’t work out.
Last year, the Yankees faced Kremer in both of his first two major league starts. Across 11 innings on September 6th and 12th, he held the Yankees to just two runs on five hits while striking out 14. The right-hander is not coming off the best spring, however, putting up a 6.32 ERA in 15.2 innings.
Wednesday: Jameson Taillon vs. John Means
Last series, we got one notable pitching debut in Corey Kluber, and in this time around, we’ll get another. Taillon’s first game as a Yankee will come on Wednesday in the series finale. It will also be his first start since May 1, 2019, missing most of the past two seasons after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery. He was deliberately skipped over by Cole as part of a plan to ease him back into a regular starting role. So, don’t expect Taillon to be throwing 115 pitches in a complete game or anything.
Means was a surprise All-Star as a rookie in 2019, and after a more inconsistent 2020, he jumped out to a great start for 2021. On Opening Day, he spun seven shutout innings against the Red Sox, allowing just one hit. Considering what the Red Sox have done since, that’s not exactly as impressive as it sounds.