This was a perfect spring game in my opinion. It was tidy, quick, and the stars atop the Yankee order looked ready for Opening Day. The starter, perhaps thrust unceremoniously into the rotation to start the season, also impressed in the Yankees 6-2 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon.
If Jhony Brito really is the answer to the fifth starter question, he had a pretty good audition today. A strong 5.1 innings of perfect ball with nary a hit or walk allowed against a lineup that featured at least six Blue Jays who will make major contributions this year will play — and striking out the top of the order in the first inning, all on a pretty impressive changeup — had to raise a few eyebrows in the org.
Those three strikeouts were all Brito managed, and half of his whiffs came in the first, so I think there are still some concerns about a lack of swing-and-miss in his profile. Still, that’s not that different from his work in the minor leagues, where he’s never posted great strikeout numbers and still managed to be solid. His fastball was also sitting 96, a tick up from last season and a good sign that this guy might be able to hold his own should he indeed be called to cover for Luis Severino.
Aaron Judge continued his strong spring, going 2-for-2 with a walk and ballooning his spring OPS to a gaudy 1.151. Spring results aren’t a great predictor of the regular season, but boy, does Judge look ready to hit the ground running. His two-run shot in the fifth opened the scoring in what had been a pitcher’s duel:
Anthony Rizzo, on the other had, was not having a great spring before today.
Going back-to-back with Judge is a great way to tune up ahead of Thursday, and most importantly, we saw Rizzo pull the ball in the air, the key to his excellent 2022 power output.
Michael King and Greg Weissert also got some work in, and while King looked touchable for pretty much the first time all spring, he still struck out a pair in 1.1 innings. The four hits and run allowed aren’t great, but we’ve all seen how great King can be, and I don’t think there’s a reason to expect anything different once real baseball starts. Weissert is still bidding for an Opening Day roster spot, and while Jimmy Cordero and Albert Abreu have made it, the rookie is still on the outside looking in.
The last note, and we’ll have more coverage on the site tomorrow, concerns Oswald Peraza. He didn’t have a good game, again, going 0-for-3 and seeing his OPS on the spring dropping to .616. It’s impossible to not talk about the shortstop competition, unquestionably the biggest piece of outstanding business for the Yankees just four days from Opening Day.
It feels like every chance Anthony Volpe gets this spring, he cashes in, and Peraza just hasn’t. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think Peraza’s not a good player, as we are only talking about 50ish ABs for each guy (one of whom is more of a defensive specialist). However, given what we’ve seen from both of them, Volpe looks a lot more ready for MLB time than Peraza. We have a direct comp between the two coming out tomorrow, and it doesn’t doom Peraza to also-ran status if he starts the season in Scranton. I just think he hasn’t done enough to retain his position as the semi-incumbent shortstop.
The Yankees have two more spring games, taking on Tampa tomorrow as we continue to tune up for Opening Day. Clarke Schmidt, in line to start game two of the regular season, will have his final outing of camp against the Rays, with first pitch coming at 1:05pm Eastern.