It's almost here. Opening Day. The day baseball fans wait for all winter, when every team (or almost every team, sorry 2013 Astros) has a chance to win and the time has finally come to play the games.
Unfortunately for Yankee fans, 2013 brings more apprehension than hope for many, with the injuries and heavy competition the team will face. But on April 1, when the team takes the field in the Bronx to play the Red Sox, they'll be defending American League East champions.
Here's what's coming up for the Yankees in the season's first month (and May 1, the third game of a three-game set against the Astros) and a preview of how they will do.
April 1, 3-4 - Boston Red Sox (Home)
The Yankees open the season against the Red Sox, a clash between two teams who, for the first time in a long time, are not really considered the favorites in the AL East race.
Both teams will be missing major pieces, with the Yankees without Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson, and the Red Sox without David Ortiz, who has still not recovered from a 2012 heel injury.
At home, I'll take C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte to take two of three.
April 5-7 - Detroit Tigers (Away)
After getting swept by Detroit in the ALCS, the Yankees will try to avoid another sweep in the season's first week. They're likely to face Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander, setting up the first Sabathia-Verlander matchup of the season.
Derek Jeter will hope to come back from the DL on his first eligible day, April 6, but the Yankees' offense will show its weakness in a pitcher's park, and against good pitching, by dropping two of three.
April 8-11 - Cleveland Indians (Away)
The Yankees will greet familiar faces Nick Swisher and Terry Francona in Cleveland. The Indians made some major offseason acquisitions with Mark Reynolds, Drew Stubbs, Michael Bourn and Brett Myers in addition to Swisher and Francona.
Cleveland is improved and will draw even with the Yankees, splitting the four games.
April 12-14 - Baltimore Orioles (Home)
In a rematch of the 2012 ALDS the Baltimore Orioles will trek up I-95 to the Bronx and will try to prove that last season was not a fluke. It wasn't, and the Os will take two of three from the banged-up Yankees.
April 16-18 - Arizona Diamondbacks (Home)
With the Astros moving to the American League, interleague play will happen all season long and the Yankees' first experience with the change will be a rematch of the 2001 World Series in April against the Diamondbacks.
They're retooled this offseason and think they will compete in the NL West, but the Yankees are still a superior team and will win two out of three. One potential matchup to watch is if Ian Kennedy comes back to start at Yankee Stadium, which would be even more intriguing if he pitches against Phil Hughes.
April 19-21 - Toronto Blue Jays (Away)
The Yankees will get their first look at the new-look Blue Jays, who were 7-11 against the Yanks last year. They're much improved and will be motivated to prove that they will contend this season. They'll take this series, winning two of three from the Yanks.
April 22-24 - Tampa Bay Rays (Away)
The last AL East rival the Yankees will play is the Rays, but they won't have to wait long to meet them. After three weeks of play the team will have gotten a look at all division rivals.
The Rays traded away James Shields and acquisition Wil Myers may not be called up to the majors by April 22, but they have the pitching depth to make up for the loss of Shields. Still, the Rays' offense is not great and the Yankees will take two of three.
April 25-28 - Toronto Blue Jays (Home)
The Yankees then come home to take on the Blue Jays again in a four-game set. Derek Jeter should be back by then and the team, hovering around .500, will take three of four.
April 29-May 1 - Houston Astros (Home)
The Astros are the worst team in baseball, and joining the American League will only hurt their record. The team is atrocious. Three Yankees are due to make more money than the entire Astros' team, and they will sweep the Astros in the Bronx to wrap up April.
By these projections, the Yankees will be 17-12 after April. The jury is still out on whether the team can keep up that pace all season, but with matchups against each AL East rival on the horizon during April, we'll get a good sense of how this team compares. Perhaps I'm overrating the team's offense but I think they'll score enough runs to win games with a solid pitching staff. But that's why they play the games.
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