The long journey to Opening Day at Yankee Stadium is finally over. We will have baseball this afternoon in the Bronx, and with the Red Sox in town for the inaugural game of 2022, it’s quite a spicy matchup. Gerrit Cole and Nathan Eovaldi will have a rematch of their 2021 AL Wild Card Game showdown. The Yankees’ ace will seek to prove that this time, he’s now healthy and quite capable of avenging that deflating loss.
Fans who followed the Yankees’ 2021 campaign though know that the offense will likely face even more pressure. They were supposed to have a formidable lineup last year, just as they’d deployed in each season of the post-2016 “Baby Bomber Era.” However, aside from sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, there wasn’t much to be excited about. They finished a distant 10th in the AL in runs scored and were exactly average by OPS+ at 100. It was a stunning weakness all year long, and they have a lot to prove.
The Yankees’ front office did some shuffling in the offseason, and in addition to a new hitting coach corps on the bench, the starting lineup has a fresh look as well. Here’s who will be out on the field for Opening Day:
- Josh Donaldson, 3B
- Aaron Judge, RF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Giancarlo Stanton, DH
- DJ LeMahieu, 2B
- Joey Gallo, LF
- Aaron Hicks, CF
- Kyle Higashioka, C
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa, SS
Right off the bat, Donaldson is a different presence at leadoff. The Yankees tested the prize of the Gary Sánchez trade there multiple times in spring training and seemed to like it. He certainly has the ability to swat the first pitch he ever sees in pinstripes out of the ballpark.
After the trio of power hitters in Judge, Rizzo, and Stanton, the Yankees turn to the more contact-focused LeMahieu before returning to another basher in Gallo. Both of the latter two will be seeking bounce-back seasons from their Yankee stints in 2021; they were — at best — somewhat league-average bats in New York, but have the potential to play much better. The next batter, Hicks, has to do all that and prove his health, too, after injuries sapped two of his past three seasons.
Rounding out the lineup are the spring MVP, Higashioka, and the new shortstop, Kiner-Falefa. No one’s expecting Higashioka to provide a vintage Gary season, but if he could even somehow approach a modest bat, it would be vital given his acclaimed defense. Notably absent from the lineup is Gleyber Torres, as someone from the group of LeMahieu, Kiner-Falefa, and Torres (and even Hicks, as they can use Judge in center) will end up sitting far more days than not if everyone’s healthy. It happens, and the Dodgers have made better position player rotations than this work for years.
As a reminder, here’s how to follow along with the action. Let’s do that baseball!
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
Time: 1:05 p.m. EST
TV: YES Network, NESN, MLB Network (out-of-market)
Radio: WFAN - 660 AM/101.9 FM
Venue: Yankee Stadium