The 2016 season for the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox is obviously hitched with the biggest of ambitions – winning the World Series. But both teams have things that might get in the way of that goal, and approach the offseason with a different set of problems to address.
Injuries and age is the big issue for the Yankees, who might have the best bullpen trio in the majors, but a lot of other things they need to be concerned about. Their top 4 starting pitchers didn’t play in 30 games last season, with C.C. Sabathia playing in 167.1 innings being the most of the bunch. Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Masahiro Tanaka (the only one of them with a sub 4.00 ERA) played even less. Luis Severino (2.89 ERA, 5-3 in 11 starts) is promising, but young pitcher are always something of a risk.
The lineup has its own set of problems which might force the Yankees into resting players to avoid injuries. Alex Rodriguez is past 40 and while the designated hitter role takes off the pressure, he’s still quite injury prone. Mark Teixeira played in just 111 games last season. Carlos Beltran played in 138 games. Jacoby Ellsbury, one of the youngest players in the projected lineup (but he’s 32) missed 51 games last season too.
Starlin Castro was brought in to help the offense and insert some youth into it, but maybe even their “safe bet”, the bullpen, has a little risk into it, considering Aroldis Chapman could be suspended. The whole point of such a strong closing trio is to defend a relatively weak starting rotation, but those plans could be on hold depending on how much time the Yankees have to do without Chapman.
For the Red Sox, the two big questions have to do with their catchers and bullpen. Christian Vasquez is trying to come back before the beginning of the regular season bu that could be a little tight. If it’s not him at the beginning of the season, Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart will compete for the spot, with the loser, once Vasquez is healthy, getting traded.
As for the bullpen, Craig Kimbrel is closing, while Junichi Tazawa, Carson Smith and Koji Uehara are going to be the bridge to his inning. The other spots? Roenis Elias seems to be the favorite to land the long relief job, but there is some competition, while the Red Sox are looking for some options in the free agency market for a lefty specialist.
The Red Sox have won just 149 games since winning the 2013 World Series, while the Yankees got back to the playoffs, leaving a taste of more in a difficult AL East. Managing these issues correctly early in the season could be the difference between disappointment and success a bit later in the season for the two giants of the division.