By Jon Remache
Published: May 17th, 2017
The second month of the 2017 MLB season is underway, and New York’s two teams are already enduring intriguing narratives. For the Yankees, the rebuilding them they displayed last year when they became sellers at the trade deadline was expected to lead to more bumps than wins given the nature of their unproven youth; however that is no longer the case.
The early portion of April featured the ugly side of a young team attempting to stay afloat. The third act of the month was quite the opposite, featuring the introduction to the next potential Yankee silver. Aaron Judge put the offense on his back, and the pitching has been effective in giving the Bombers a chance to win. Things are looking up for both Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez after having returned to the everyday lineup.
No longer are the Yankees struggling to stay above the Mendoza line, and instead they sit atop the American League East Division at the moment. While it’s still early, this team has displayed fortitude in ignoring the odds of a young team experiencing early success. After all, the defending world champion Chicago Cubs pulled it off, and while it’s unfair to compare both teams, completing a three-game sweep against Chicago in early May is quite the feather in their cap.
It is a very different story for the Yankees’ crosstown rivals. Despite the strong start to the season led by Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes, the New York Mets are now playing catch-up, and they’re forced to play with Cespedes and Syndergaard, their two big horses, on the designated list. As if it wasn’t bad enough that closer Jeurys Familia was suspended for the first 15 games of the season, he could be lost for an extended period of time after being diagnosed with an arterial clot in his right shoulder on Thursday and undergoing surgery.
The theme of injuries continues to surround this team, as manager Terry Collins might as well be counting his lucky stars each time his team gets through a game without injury. Lately, the offense has stepped its game up in Cespedes’ absence, and that should be expected given the addition of having Jay Bruce in the lineup to begin the season.
The thought of the Mets winning a series at home is akin to wishful thinking, and that is troublesome. Citi Field was built around the franchise’s belief in benefiting their pitching, but if the promising pitching can’t make it into the field, the weight falls on the offense’s shoulders—the same offense that produces more runs on the road than at home. With Syndergaard, Cespedes, and Familia on the disabled list, the consensus is that despite it still being early in the season, the writing is on the wall. Relying on a decent and already-overworked bullpen doesn’t help the fact that Rafael Montero will pitch in place of Syndergaard.
May offers competition not solely including division rivals, which could lead to an uglier stretch. The tale of two cross-town rivals is indicative that everything is certain until it isn’t. For all we know, the roles could be reversed between the two by June. One positive in all of this is that every game brings us closer to the always-anticipated Subway Series in August.