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Yankees Opening Day: Three stories to watch

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Here’s what to look out for in the first series of the season.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at New York Yankees Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 season in upon us. Just days away from the season opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s time to step back and look at what the team has accomplished so far. After everything that has happened this offseason, we need to see how the real deal will do in actual games that count. We have several stories to follow, heading into Opening Day this year. Here are the three most important.

How Judge and Stanton Will Work Together

Much has been discussed in regards to the amazing home run power of this All-Star tandem. The Yankees put most of their offseason efforts into acquiring Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins, but now it all needs to be worth it. We know they are both going to hit, but we want to know how long we have to wait before the two of them are able to get going at the same time.

Make of spring training stats what you want, but Aaron Judge has hit well, while Stanton has struggled. If the two titans are going to bat back-to-back in the lineup, it would be nice to see them both start the season on the right foot. A slow start for one of them won’t be a big deal, but if both can come out guns blazing, it will help make up for the loss of Greg Bird.

Can Severino Be the Guy on Opening Day

After an impressive 2017 season, Luis Severino has been named the ace of the staff. He’s been given the honor to pitch Opening Day, which was once given to Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia before him. Let’s not make this into too much of a big deal, but it would still be nice to see him make a statement in the first game of the season. After all, Severino still needs to prove that he can be relied on in a big spot.

He may be the best pitcher the team has right now, but he’s still coming off a season where he blew the biggest start of his life in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game. Allowing three runs in the first inning and only managing to get one out will not do anything to help your reputation as a reliable pitcher, so he can make a statement by coming out strong on Thursday. It should be said that even if he falters a bit, it won’t be the end of the world.

Will the Starting Infield Work Out Like We Hope

The biggest question marks this team has heading into the season revolved around the starting infield. Now that Bird won’t be with the team until at least June, it puts even more pressure on this group of players to perform. Right now the only guarantee is Didi Gregorius, but there should be some promise at second and third.

Having Neil Walker on the team should really save the day, since he’s a legitimate bat and reliable glove. Nothing is certain with Brandon Drury, though, since his bat and glove are both questionable. A big, or even decent performance out of either of these guys will go a long way toward making people feel confident in the new additions going forward.

As for the whole Greg Bird situation, the Yankees need to figure out how they can tread water at first base until he returns. After hitting four home runs this spring, Tyler Austin would be an easy bet to make the team, but Walker and Drury could see time there as well. Whoever ends up playing first base will hopefully get the season started on the right foot so we won’t even miss Bird while he’s gone.