As their East Coast rivals the Boston Red Sox flail away in futility below .500 (finally snapping a five-game losing streak on Wednesday), nearly every piece of the Yankee puzzle that GM Brian Cashman constructed is coming together as planned.
The offense is hitting, getting on base, and scoring runs. The starting pitching has been dominate at times and effective consistently. And the bullpen — even beyond Mariano Rivera — has shown that there should be no issue bridging the gap to their future-Hall of Fame closer.
Let's examine each unit (stats through Tuesday, April 20):
Leading off, Yankees captain Derek Jeter continues to play in an ageless fashion. On a tear in his first 12 games, Jeter carries a .345 batting average, a .368 OBP, 3 home runs, and 9 RBIs into Wednesday night.
Although Nick Johnson is batting only .146, his .407 OBP with 16 walks (1st in the AL) and seven runs makes this temporary slump less than problematic. Considering that those walks have come with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez behind him in the lineup, his value out of the No. 2 slot in the lineup is more than evident.
While Teixeira has also struggled badly to start the season, Robinson Cano (327/4/10), Alex Rodriguez (.304 avg, .448 OBP), and Jorge Posada (.357/3/8 with a .438 OBP) have more than picked up the slack. Throw in the mix the hot bats of Brett Gardner and Marcus Thames along with the resurgence of Curtis Granderson (.263 against lefties is a lot better then his sub .200 mark from last season), and the lineup should provide consistent production from a variety of different sources for the entirety of the season.
The Yankees' big three (CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Andy Pettitte) have been untouchable in their first three starts. Each of them stands at 2-0 with CC carrying a 2.84 ERA, AJ at 2.37, and the elder Pettitte at a staggering 1.35. Sabathia has been overpowering, striking out 18 batters in 19 innings while walking only four. Burnett's 13 strikeouts in 19 innings are nothing to scoff at, but it has been his ability to utilize command over his complete arsenal to wriggle out of jams that has prove so effectiveness. And Pettitte has shined on pure pitching knowledge and guile, allowing a team low 15 hits in 20 innings, resulting in a meager three runs.