After much anticipation over whether there would even be a 2020 Major League Baseball season due to COVID-19, we now await Opening Day, which will take place on July 23 and 24. Each organization will play just 60 games, with the postseason set to begin at the start of October. All teams are currently playing intrasquad games on a daily basis at their respective home stadiums.
The New York Yankees forked out a ton of money in the offseason to bring Gerrit Cole to the Bronx, thinking that he might be the missing piece that could lead them to a World Series title. Cole has been one of the most dominant arms in the game for the last number of years during stints with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros.
We’re all aware of how physically gifted New York is with the likes of Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. Their lineup is downright scary but only when all these superstars are actually healthy.
Judge suffered neck discomfort last week at Yankee Stadium, but it was nothing serious, and he should be ready to go for Opening Day. As for Stanton, who has been battling injuries on and off for the last two years, he finally looks healthy and ready to make the type of impact they expect from him.
James Paxton, who was one of New York’s most reliable rotation arms last season, underwent back surgery in February. Due to the delay in the season, he’s now at 100 percent and throwing in intrasquad games. It’s an absolute bummer that the season didn’t get started in late March like planned, there’s no question about it. But for a team like the Yankees, it could really benefit them. They have so many important players to their lineup who are now ready to suit up because of a shortened season.
Can the Offense Build Off 2019?
The Yankees looked outstanding last year in the postseason, putting their offensive prowess on full display against the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros. During the regular season the Bronx Bombers hit .267 and clubbed 306 homers as a team, with seven different players going deep more than 20 times. This happened without Stanton and Miguel Andujar, who were both battling injuries.
Andujar hit 27 homers in 2018 and played outstanding defense at the hot corner. He’s back and ready to fight for a starting spot, and if New York can get even close to the same production at the plate from the 25-year-old, it’s going to be a huge help. A lot of Andujar’s at-bats may come in the outfield due to Gio Urshela‘s breakout year at third base last season, but Aaron Boone will be doing everything possible to get Andujar’s bat in the lineup.
As for Stanton, he went deep 38 times in 2018, giving the Yankees the type of power they were hoping for. However, 2019 brought a ton of injuries which limited him to just 18 games. Considering the type of money they’re paying him, a lot more is expected from Stanton at the dish. If he can stay healthy in this 60-game campaign and find his previous 2018 form, it’s really going to benefit this team.
Obviously, the numbers aren’t going to be the same for any player in a shortened season. But with the star power that New York has in their lineup, they have the potential to do some real damage once again in 2020.
Rotation is Strong, Even Without Severino
On the mound, Masahiro Tanaka was struck with a line drive earlier this month, but he’s already recovering at a steady rate and throwing bullpen sessions. Losing Luis Severino for the season to an elbow injury will definitely hurt, but the Yankees still have depth.
Paxton, Cole, J.A. Happ, and Jordan Montgomery will round out the rotation. As a whole, they’re quite strong on the bump. Even in the late innings, Boone has the likes of Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman at his disposal. There’s no question Cole is the name who stands out the most, compiling a 3.22 ERA across seven seasons. He’s also coming off a ridiculous year in 2019, where he struck out 326 hitters in just 212.1 innings, which led the majors.
Although he won’t have a true ace like Justin Verlander by his side, the likes of Paxton and Tanaka have proven to be guys who can eat up innings and pitch deep into ballgames. The Big Maple went 15-6 in his debut season in the Bronx last year, posting a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts. Tanaka was 11-9 with an ERA over four in 2019, but he has shown the ability to be a fierce competitor who has a wide array of pitches in his repertoire.
Happ and Montgomery are slight wild cards, so it will definitely be up to Cole, Paxton, and Tanaka to be consistent every fifth day if the Yankees want to make a run at the World Series. There are some options in the minors as well in Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt, who could see a call-up at some point this season depending on how the rotation fares.
Need to be Consistent Across The Board
It’s hard to predict if New York will be such an offensive powerhouse again this season just because of the current circumstances. That said, they certainly have the talent, and considering that basically everyone is healthy, it’s no surprise that they’re one of the clear-cut favorites to win the Fall Classic.
Adding Cole as their number one on the mound will definitely be a huge plus, as well. Having Severino back would have been the perfect scenario but even without him, the New York Yankees are a force to be reckoned with in all areas.
Their quest for a title begins with a three-game set against the reigning World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals, on July 23.