By Brad Carroll
The long wait is finally over, as the New York Yankees begin the 2015 season with a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays starting Monday afternoon at the Stadium. Here is a closer look at the first series of the year for the Bronx Bombers.
Toronto Blue Jays (Last Year: 83-79, third place AL East)
at New York Yankees (Last Year: 84-78, second place AL East)
Monday, 1 p.m.
Drew Hutchison (Career: 16-16, 4.51) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (Career: 13-5, 2.77)
Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.
RA Dickey (89-82, 3.98) vs. Michael Pineda (14-15, 3.17)
Thursday, 7:05 p.m.
Daniel Norris (0-0, 5.40) vs. CC Sabathia (208-119, 3.63)
The Yankees don't have much heading into the season, as they've missed the playoffs two straight seasons. They haven't won a world championship since 2009. The Blue Jays haven't made the playoffs since the 1993 season, when they won their second straight World Series title. That's a 21-year drought. Toronto hasn't even finished under 10 games back in the AL East in 14 years.
Three Yankees Storylines
1. It's Opening Day Monday afternoon, so all stories can start and end there. There's nothing quite like it, not only in baseball, but the rest of the sports world as well. Add Yankee Stadium in the mix and it makes for a perfect afternoon.
2. A-Rod makes his return from a year-long suspension and likely will bat seventh in the lineup. It's anyone's guess as to how the fans react to Alex Rodriguez's first at-bat, but the guess here is a mix between apathy and cheers. Like it or not, the Yankees need A-Rod to contribute solid numbers this season to contend for a title.
3. Who will step up for the Yankees with both Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter gone? At shortstop, it's Didi Gregorius. The closer job hasn't been decided yet, as manager Joe Girardi will platoon Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller based on matchups for now. Betances should be the closer, but apparently, the Yankees are content not to make a permanent choice just yet.
Three Blue Jays To Know
1. Surprise Opening Day starter Drew Hutchison was drafted in the 15th round of the 2009 draft. He returned last year from Tommy John surgery, where he went 11-13 with a 4.48 ERA. Hutchison has a career 4.80 ERA at Yankee Stadium.
2. Jose Bautista was sixth in the American League MVP voting last year, batting .286 with 35 homers and 103 RBI. He's led the majors in home runs two times in his career, hitting 54 in 2010 and 43 in 2011.
3. Daniel Norris, who pitches the series finale, was considered the Blue Jays' top overall prospect by MLB.com coming into the year. He went 12-2 with a 2.53 ERA in Class A+, Double-A and Triple-A combined last year.
Check It Out
Read our Five Bold Predictions for the New York Yankees here.
The Yankees remain home for three games against the hated Boston Red Sox, staring Friday night and ending with a Sunday night game.