Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across Major League Baseball. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in New York Yankees fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.
It’s time for to reveal the results of the latest SB Nation Reacts polls as the Yankees (and the New York City) recover from a smoggy week. Fans first opined about the starting pitching. It feels like one step forward and two steps back with the Yankees rotation this year. Luis Severino is up to speed, but Nestor Cortes is now on the IL. Even so, Cortes wasn’t effective over the first two months of the season in which the Yankees badly needed him to step up.
This poll occurred before the scheduling shuffle, as the Yankees promoted reliever Matt Krook as the corresponding move to Cortes’ IL stint. With the addition of a doubleheader today, the Yankees had the flexibility to roster one more player and chose Randy Vásquez. They’ll be able to skip this turn next time out, but who Cortes’ rotation spot will go to, though, remains to be seen. It’ll be two weeks before he throws again, so a decision awaits.
Brito has an argument here, as he had an inconsistent but mostly competent nine starts filling in for Severino, so he has the advantage of relative experience over the other two on this list.
Thirty-eight percent of fans felt that Randy Vásquez is deserving of the job going forward. He impressed with a gritty 4.2 innings against a tough Padres lineup in his first career start earlier this year and offers arguably more upside then Brito; top pitching prospect Will Warren came pretty close to matching Brito’s vote total as well.
It didn’t count in the voting since the survey went out before Vásquez’s start last night, but the Yankees have to be encouraged by his 5.2 shutout frames against the Pale Hose to help avoid a sweep.
Frankie Montas didn’t inspire much confidence with the Yankees in 2022, especially in light of being traded for two well-regarded prospects. Now dealing with a serious shoulder injury, fans aren’t holding out hope that he’ll even throw a pitch this year. He’s currently in progress on a throwing program but even early August seems optimistic at this point. Much like Carlos Rodón, fans’ frustration grows the longer he remains out.
Moving on to some MLB-wide survey results, fans were asked when a team’s results start to be directly indicative of their identity. Memorial Day is an often-cited signpost, but 38 percent of fans felt that a team could find its identity all the way up to the 90-game mark. The Yankees know a thing or two about that process in reverse, cruising in the first half of 2022 before wobbling in the second half and almost fumbling the division in the process. This year, teams like the Padres and Cardinals are running out of time to live up to expectations. The Cardinals have a much easier path to righting the ship in the NL Central than the Padres do in the West.
The Bombers might need some regression from the Rays to have a shot at the AL East title this year. Unfortunately, the plucky Rays show no signs of slowing down as we near mid-June. Right now, cutting through a deficit of nine games looks like a tall order unless the second half of 2023 looks like the buzzsaw of the first half last year. There is reason for optimism given the Yankees will tentatively welcome several impact players back from injury in the second half. For now, though, this Yankees team sits in third place.
Individual players are a little more tricky and volatile — some guys set the world on fire for half a season only to disappear down the stretch. 39 percent of fans polled prefer to wait until the All-Star Break to pass judgement on a player’s season.
For example, AL East comrade Jorge Mateo hit .347 in the month of April this year before his hype train came to a screeching halt, if it even got out of the station in the first place. Some players will inevitably get hot at the right time, but it’s rare to sustain fluky success over a period of 100-plus games.
The AL East looks to be an absolute dogfight this year, and it may well come down to the last few regular-season games. If the Yankees are at full strength and in the race, they’ll have a fighting chance.