Aaron Judge. Giancarlo Stanton. Gary Sanchez. Aroldis Chapman. Luis Severino. Masahiro Tanaka. The 2018 New York Yankees are scary good, as the planned rebuild happened a lot faster than anyone expected.
The Bronx Bombers are looking to build on a surprisingly successful 2017 that saw them advance all the way to the American League Championship Series before falling to the Houston Astros in seven games. Earlier this week, MLB Network analyst Chris Russo was quick to proclaim the Yankees will be the “team to beat” in the American League in 2018.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 13, 2018
Whether you believe Russo or not is irrelevant, but the ALCS MVP and World Series winning pitcher Justin Verlander clearly doesn’t. He tweeted back at Russo, suggesting he doesn’t believe the Yankees hype.
? I can think of a reason. https://t.co/Pt3nTunBNK
— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) February 13, 2018
Verlander pitched a complete game in Game 2 of last year’s ALCS against New York, allowing just a single run. He came back to pitch Game 6, throwing seven shutout innings. His final ALCS stats: a 0.56 ERA and 21 strikeouts over two starts.
Verlander is part of (arguably) the best starting rotation in baseball. When asked about his tweet during Spring Training on Wednesday, he elaborated.
“Everybody’s gotta say stuff to get views, or get likes, or get whatever,” Verlander said, according to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. “Obviously I think we’re the team to beat, but I don’t really care whose opinion, especially people that don’t play.”
“I think the American League goes through us. Obviously you know the old saying, ‘To be the best you’ve gotta beat the best,’ and I think we proved we were last year.”
The Astros and the Yankees have an early seasons series at the end of April. Hopefully Verlander is scheduled to pitch one of those games.