2. Threat Level: Yankees
For the first time since 2012, the Yankees broke the 90-win barrier and were a win away from their 41st pennant. By far this is the team the Indians should be most concerned about, as evident from the 2017 Division Series. Had the Yankees just brought back the group from 2017, they would still be considered a heavy favorite. But, being the Yankees, they weren’t satisfied and fleeced the Marlins into giving them the NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton. With a middle of the lineup that features Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Stanton (a trio that hit a combined 144 home runs in 2017), no bleacher bum or pitching staff is safe. Their 241 home runs were tops in the MLB in 2017 and will most likely be topped in 2018.
The Yankees are still leagues behind the Indians when it comes to the rotation (then again, who isn’t?). They have one true ace in Luis Severino, but other than that, they are expecting a bounce-back year from Masahiro Tanaka (4.74 ERA in 2017) and more smoke and mirror magic from 37-year old CC Sabathia. The bullpen is where the Yankees really excel. The Yankees top-five bullpen pitchers (Chapman, Betances, Robertson, Kahnle, and Green) combined to throw 240.2 innings with a 2.36 ERA, a 1.024 WHIP, 13.5 SO/9, a 2.37 FIP, and a 184 ERA+. That’s better than Clayton Kershaw last year.