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Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees Series Preview

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The Rickinator on the Yankees

Jun 23, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees designated hitter

Alex Rodriguez

(13) reacts to an inside pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of an inter-league baseball game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

CTH: What has been the biggest key to the Yankees resurgence this year?

Keeler: The biggest key to the Yankees resurgence has been the two guys in the middle of the lineup. Alex Rodriguez has 15 home runs, which has easily exceeded my expectations for him. Plus, Mark Teixeira has stayed relatively healthy and hit 18 home runs of his own. At times, they have carried the offense along with the spark that Jacoby Ellsbury (when healthy) and Brett Gardner have given the team in the 1-2 spots in the lineup.

Plus, the back end of the bullpen was something Brian Cashman addressed this winter when they beat out the Astros in signing Andrew Miller. While Miller is on the DL right now, Dellin Betances, outside of Tuesday night, has been excellent for New York as a closer or setup man. 

CTH: How is the post-Jeter era going at shortstop?

Keeler: The Yankees went out and acquired Didi Gregorius in an offseason trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was well-known that Gregorius’ offense was a work in progress, and it has been (.236, 4 HR, 16 RBI’s). However, he has struggled defensively at times, which was viewed to be the strength of his game. It’s tough to replace Jeter and there weren’t many expectations for Gregorius. But it’s been somewhat of a disappointment between Gregorius and Stephen Drew‘s .190 batting average (even though he has 11 home runs).

CTH: Do you have any potential star shortstops in the minors?

Keeler: This guy is a few years away from being in the big leagues, but one name to keep an eye on is 20-year-old Jorge Mateo. Mateo, who is at low-A Charleston right now, is hitting .275 with two home runs and 26 RBI’s. But, the best part of his game is his speed. He has 50 stolen bases in 62 games and he has a .331 on-base percentage.

CTH: What is the status of your starting rotation? Is Pineda always hot-and-cold?

Keeler: Right now, the starting rotation is in a state of flux. With Ivan Nova back in the rotation, the Yankees are going with a six-man rotation at least one-time thru, which in my opinion, is a mistake. Tanaka had a rough start Sunday, but he has, at times, looked like vintage Tanaka this season.

As for Pineda, he was great to start the season, but he has been rusty of late because the Yanks have skipped him in starts and messed with his routine due to watching his innings. He had a surprisingly bad outing against the Phillies, but he never seems to put together two bad starts in a row. Adam Warren has been a nice surprise in his first season in the rotation, but fans feel the Yanks will eventually move him back to the bullpen despite the struggles of C.C. Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi.

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CTH: Rumors are that Cole Hamels would have interest pitching for the Yankees or Rangers. Do the Yankees have a package to attract the Phillies?

Keeler: The Yankees have the prospects, but I don’t see them making a move for Hamels. Their farm system has improved over recent years and top pitching prospect Luis Severino could see time with the Bronx Bombers in September. Plus, their #2 prospect, Aaron Judge, has shown the raw power that is hard to find. New York has shown a different commitment level with the farm system that makes me think these guys are not being traded.

Another factor to consider is the history that the Yanks have in trying to make deals with Ruben Amaro Jr. Whether it’s been Michael Young, Marlon Byrd, or Jimmy Rollins, Amaro has asked for a lot more than New York has wanted to give up. Maybe it changes things based on how Hamels pitches today in the Bronx, but I don’t see that happening between now and July 31.

Next: More Rickinator on the Yankees and Astros

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