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MLB Opening Day 2016: Yankees schedule preview

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What will be the most intriguing games of the Yankees' upcoming season?

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The Yankees don't have any spring training games today, but the bright side is that this will be our last day without any action until the day before Opening Day! Two weeks from now, they will be taking the field at Yankee Stadium against the Astros, hopefully for some long-awaited vengeance versus 2015 nemesis Dallas Keuchel. That will be just the first of 162 games in 2016, and the upcoming schedule certainly offers other interesting matchups along the way.

April and May offer some challenges to the team as Joe Girardi will try to keep Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller fresh while Aroldis Chapman serves his suspension. He is first eligible to return on May 9th, and during his absence, the pitching staff will have to face a number of potent offenses, including games against all four AL East opponents across 15 games. At the very least, MLB's several scattered days throughout the opening months will help Girardi guide his pitching staff through this stretch.

After a 10-game homestand, the Yankees will embark on an unusual road trip in May that features their first interleague series of the year, a three-game set in Arizona against the Diamondbacks from the 16th through the 18th. That will be a nice glimpse to see if their newsworthy off-season additions were worth the hype). In fact, between May 16th and June 5th, the Yankees have just three home games; they will be on the road facing Arizona, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Baltimore in that time.

The Yankees will make an appearance at Coors Field for the first time in three years as they face the Rockies on June 14th and 15th. A three-game swing in Minnesota follows that, and the Yankees return the favor by hosting Colorado for a pair of games at Yankees Stadium on June 21st and 22nd; that's the beginning of a nine-game homestand that closes out June. The Yankees don't return to the Bronx until after the All-Star Break, as they travel to San Diego, the south side of Chicago, and Cleveland to close out the first half.

The second half starts with some excitement on July 15th in a three-game series against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, the start of a 10-game homestand that wraps up with three games against the San Francisco Giants. Unlike last year, when the Subway Series was split between April and September, the Yankees and Mets will get their crosstown showdown in one fell swoop. From August 1st through the 4th, the teams will play two games at Citi Field and then two games at Yankee Stadium.

As Jake noted, hopefully the Yankees put themselves in a good position for a playoff spot prior to August because the final two months are shaping up to be their toughest. They will need to avoid the fatigue that set in late last year; their August opponents have a .515 projected 2016 winning percentage, and in September, that statistic jumps up to .520. Be prepared--September in particular will be merciless, as the Yankees have just one scheduled day off after September 1st. That seems like poor planning on the schedule-makers' part given the potential for rainouts, but so it goes.

September will also feature relentless from AL East opponents--of the final 29 games, only three are against a team from outside the division (the Dodgers in New York from September 12th through 14th). The season wraps up with a six-game homestand featuring the Red Sox and Orioles. Once again, the schedule will dip into early October, as the regular season finale is October 2nd.

Regardless of what happens, it's been a long winter, and it will be fun to see the Yankees playing in games that matter almost every day once again. Bring on the challenge, 2016. The team will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the '96 champions and perhaps they should take on that squad's motto, coined by Mariano Duncan: "We play today, we win today, das it."