Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, and Giancarlo Stanton.
It can be a winning Yankees’ trifecta for the remaining 59 games, or at least every fifth day. They played their part to perfection I the Yanks’ opening 4-1 victory over Washington Thursday night.
It will be about punching their winning ticket –notably Judge and Stanton – as many times as possible as the Yanks find themselves in a credible position for their first title since 2009.
Judge and Cole –the latter barring injury – will play their parts throughout the season and keep the Yanks near the top in the compacted race for the AL East flag.
Judge had the potential to nearly match his 27-homer output from each of the past two seasons. Again, if he can stay healthy, especially over the next few two months.
Cole looked every bit of his $324 million in a shortened five-inning, one-hit, five-strikeout performance. Yes, there will be some clunkers along the way, but Cole can benefit from this unorthodox season with the unusual surroundings.
Then there is Stanton. He is the wildcard in the Yankees’ equation.
Stanton looked every bit of his old Marlins’ days in the Yanks “summer camp,” crushing his share of long balls and looking as crisp as ever. His name already has been mentioned as a heavy favorite for the league’s Comeback Player of the Year Award winner.
The Yanks are keeping their fingers crossed that his 459-foot, first-inning blast against Washington can be a precursor for more things to come. They had just 18 games to have Stanton excel last year.
“It’s about as good as you can draw it up, starting the game out that way,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “For G to go up there and clear it out, that’s a huge shot in the arm when you’re facing the other team’s ace and you have your ace on the mound. A great tone-setter.”
Judge, Cole, and Stanton will prove to be aces of a team that has the benefit of a stacked deck. If the trio stays healthy and productive, the division race likely is over around Labor Day. They also will provide an umbrella for underlining support.
Still, the Yanks have 2019 MVP candidate DJ LeMahieu, who wouldn’t have to carry the team like he did last season, along with Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, who can both further develop under the radar.
Don’t forget Gary Sanchez. A healthy Judge and Stanton can alleviate the usual pressures surrounding Stanton as an underachiever, even though he has looked as good as ever offensively and defensively over the past month.
Put it all together, and the potential of the Yankees’ offense will to watch. Cole’s anticipated dominance will allow Masahiro Tanaka to slide back into a more suited role as well as James Paxton and J.A. Happ. Jordan Montgomery will be back, and rookie Mike King will be welcomed depth.
It was one game, and they all won’t be that definitive. The Yanks will continue their set in Washington Saturday and then head for a two-game reunion with Joe Girardi and Didi Gregorius in Philadelphia Monday. The race will be on.
However, Judge, Cole, and Stanton can be the trifecta to end the last 10 years of frustration.