Expectations high for Yanks in bid for 28th title

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York Yankees have high expectations and a whole lot to prove entering the 2019 season.

The quest for a 28th championship kicked off with a series loss to the Baltimore Orioles, but the Yankees have much to look forward to as they attempt to redeem themselves following last year's disappointing finish.

It's not that the Yankees weren't good in 2018, they just weren't the best.

Despite winning 100 games behind an offense that scored 851 runs and slugged a major league record 267 home runs, the Bombers were bested in the American League Division Series by the Boston Red Sox and had to watch as their long-time rivals proceeded to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

For a young Yankee team, it's a result that stings, but one that could ultimately push them to new heights in 2019.

Pitching, Pitching, Pitching

The small difference between a World Series title and postseason elimination could come down to pitching, an area the Yankees focused on heavily this offseason.

Although the Yankees struck out on one of their early offseason targets in left-handed pitcher Patrick Corbin, they still managed to make several upgrades to the starting rotation including the addition of James Paxton, a flame-throwing southpaw from the Seattle Mariners, who should fit nicely between Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka once the former returns from the injured list.

To round out the rotation, the Yankees brought back CC Sabathia for a final season and re-signed J.A. Happ for three more. And while additions are always important, one of the team's most significant moves of the offseason was trading away enigmatic right-hander Sonny Gray, who found a new home with the Cincinnati Reds.

Building an Endgame

Avengers 4 isn't the only "endgame" people will be looking forward to this spring. The Yankees built one of the strongest bullpens in the league over the winter, supplementing their formidable rotation with an assemblage of super relievers to shutdown opposing hitters late in the game.

At any point, the Yankees could conceivably deploy a relief combination of Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Zack Britton, Jonathan Holder and Adam Ottavino to hold a lead. That's the realm the Yankees live in, and they should have plenty of leads to preserve with their juggernaut of a lineup.

If it's broke, don't fix it?

Before the offseason even started, the Yankees were dealt a huge blow when they learned that their starting shortstop, Didi Gregorius, would need Tommy John Surgery to repair his right elbow which he damaged during the playoffs.

The Yankees could have splurged and signed Manny Machado to play short until Didi returned, but they chose the conservative route and brought in former Colorado Rockies' star Troy Tulowitzki on a league minimum deal.

After missing a season and a half with injuries, the 34-year-old isn't quite on Manny Machado's level anymore, but the Yanks don't need him to be. The Bronx Bombers are loaded with offensive talent, backed by behemoths like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and young stars like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, who should make the Yankees' lineup nearly as prolific in Didi's absence.

Improving on a team that won 100 games last year is a tough task for any organization, but the 2019 version of the Yankees are poised to surpass those lofty expectations for a chance to bring home their 28th World Series title.

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