New York Yankees Masahiro Tanaka pitches in a MLB game during the 2016 season.

New York Yankees: Prospects, Pitching Can Help MLB Rebuild

The New York Yankees and the MLB Postseason used to be a very common combination, but last year the Yankees missed the second season, and they’ve not won a postseason series since the 2012 season.

For Yankees manager Joe Girardi and the rest of the “Bronx Bombers,” that must change this season, or the 2018 Yankees won’t look have the same look and feel they have entering spring training this season.

The last time the Yankees won a postseason series or game was in the ’12 American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles. Since then, they’ve lost four straight to the Detroit Tigers that same year, and in ’15, the Yankees lost the AL Wild Card game to the Houston Astros.

The question is can the young players of the Yankees franchise help rebuild the great MLB franchise and return to the MLB postseason sooner rather than later?

New York is coming off a fourth-place finish in the AL East last season, having an 84-78 season, and even though they were above the 0.500 mark last season, it wasn’t acceptable for a franchise like the Yankees who are seeking to regain the once-dominating form they held.

Getting there, the Yankees will need to look at building the franchise from within, and they can do that as they will eventually have their MLB No. 5 prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, at the MLB level. The problem for the Yankees of ’17 is the top prospect of the Yankees might not be ready to play at the MLB level full-time until the ’18 season.

One thing about the ’17 Yankees and beyond is they are taking a different approach for the most part. The Yankees aren’t spending the farm to make themselves better with free agency and trades (though they did add Aroldis Chapman). Rather, they are building and grooming their prospects through the minor leagues, which is something they let get away in recent years.

The New York Post has noticed the young talent within the Yankees organization, and Dan Martin wrote about the presence of 20-year-old Torres and how he can help another young player in Jorge Mateo, quoting Yankees minor league manager Patrick Osborn.

“The influx of new young talent diverts attention from Jorge. I expect him to be great. Maybe not having all the spotlight on him will be a good thing.”

Besides the young prospects, maybe the most important player in the entire Yankees organization will have to not just play at a very high level, but he’s going to need to stay healthy all season long, too. That player is ace pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

It is being reported by MLB that Tanaka has “already been tabbed” as the Yankees Opening Day starter. If the Yankees want to win games and compete against the likes of the improved Boston Red Sox, Tanaka will have to not just be on the mound every fifth day, but pitch the best he’s ever pitched at the major league level.

The 28-year-old right-hander pitched in 31 games last season, and though he finished with a 14-4 record with an ERA of 3.07, he was just short of pitching 200 innings (199.2), though he did have 165 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.08.

Last season was the first time the Yankees ace pitched in more than 24 games in any of his three seasons, and it was the most innings he’s ever pitched in a season as well. The Yankees must continue to see the progression of Tanaka keep on that pace of ’16 and not have to fight off injuries like he’s had to in other years.

There is still a lot of work the Yankees need to make to their roster. There is still some unknown at the MLB level, but there is some eagerness and excitement at the lower levels, too. If the Yankees can take their time, fight through this upcoming season and build up their young prospects, this season could have a better turnout than expected for the Yankees.

Patience will be key for the Yankees, and if that can happen, maybe the Yankees can rebuild their franchise with pitching and prospects and get back to winning in the MLB postseason.

[Featured Image by Rich Schultz/Getty Images]

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