It’s nearly mid-May, which means that the Yankees are set for two of their biggest regular-season weekends in the Bronx: the first home series against the Red Sox beginning on Friday, May 13, and the first home series against the Mets starting the next Friday night.
Everyone’s talking about the Yankees' batting order going into these games, which puts additional pressure on Joe Girardi to manage the lineup's instabilities and put all controversy to rest ASAP.
Let's take a look at the changes we've seen over the season thus far by comparing opening day and the most recently announced batting order to the most frequently seen lineup:
The heart of the order—Teixeria, Rodriguez, Cano—has remained fairly consistent throughout the season, as has Posada's DH spot. But what about everyone else?
Who's In First?: Jeter and Gardner
- If you have ears or eyes, you know that concerns about Derek Jeter’s power at the plate have plagued him since the beginning of the season. His on-base percentage (.308) and batting average (.250) are far below his career numbers. But resting Jeter in Detroit on Thursday in favor of Eduardo Nunez (who promptly committed two errors at shortstop) may have cost the Yankees the game, which made for their third consecutive loss—a season worst. And many seem to consider a move down in the order an insult to the venerable captain.
- Given all of that freaking out surrounding that leadoff spot, it's sort of funny to recall that Jeter batted second on Opening Day. Gardner was in No. 1 in the order against righty Justin Verlander.
- Moreover, it’s not clear who could move up in the order to compensate. While Brett Gardner appears to be coming back from an earlier strikeout extravaganza (season batting average .225), but he’s still not considered a reliable leadoff man—in fact, Girardi's given him the last slot in the batting order for the opener at Texas while Jeter returned to the top of the order. One thing's for sure: both Gardner and Jeter's performances in this series will be closely watched.
Hot and Cold: Granderson and Swisher
- Curtis Granderson continues to dominate at the plate and is most often placed in at No. 2 in the order. Granderson is second in the AL with eight home runs, and sixth in slugging (.573).
- Granderson's move to the two spot can be directly traced to Nick Swisher's unimpressive offensive production as of late (he's hitting .214.)
So, the lineup as it stands today is significantly different from Girardi's original vision. It will be interesting to see how performances in the next few games affect the lineup going into the Red Sox/Mets stretch.