COVID-19 has rocked the entire world, not just sports. Shortened seasons, guidelines in place to ensure player and personnel safety and venues are all decisions that have the sports community scrambling for answers. Despite all of these challenges, Major League Baseball is going to happen in 2020. With a disappointing decade from 2010-2019, the first in franchise history with no World Series appearances, the New York Yankees look to rebound in the 2020s. Even with a shortened, 60 game season, there is so much to look forward to if you are a Yankees fan.
1. Gerrit Cole.
General Manager Brian Cashman landed his “white whale” back in December with a nine-year $324 million deal, the richest deal ever for a pitcher. Bringing Cole to New York was the top priority heading into free agency after the Bombers lost in the ALCS to the Astro’s. Even with winning over 100 games in each of the last three seasons, the New York Yankees just couldn’t get over the hump and make it to the World Series. With injuries constantly keeping the starters off the field and forcing the Yankees to use 155 different starting lineups in 2019, the team needed a major shot of adrenaline. Adding Cole does exactly that. His 2019 season was one of the most impressive in recent years, posting a 24-6 record with a 2.39 ERA and 373 strikeouts. The acquisition of Cole instantly gives the New York Yankees one of the top rotations at least in the American League. When Luis Severino returns from recovering from Tommy John surgery, you would be hard-pressed to find a better rotation. The Yankees should certainly do major damage with a healthy Cole as their ace for the future.
2. Players coming back healthy.
The team was plagued by injuries all throughout 2019. With a Major League record of 30 players designated to the IL, the phrase “next man up” became the team’s rallying cry. With unlikely players stepping up and filling major holes such as Mike Tauchman, Mike Ford, and Chad Green the team still pulled together and won the division and won 103 games en route to another ALCS appearance. On paper, the Yankees have one of the most dominant tops to bottom rosters in baseball when healthy. Key players like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez getting constantly caught with the injury bug especially last year are obvious roadblocks to success, but 2020 should see all of the squad returning healthy. Aaron Hicks and Judge both are scheduled to be ready for opening day, as well as prime starter James Paxton who recovered from back surgery late last year. With at least most of their players primed to come back healthy, 2020 should be an exciting year for the Bombers.
3. More motivated and hungry than ever.
Every team in a competitive sports league goes into their season with one goal in mind: Bring a championship home to their city. Looking back at the past decade without reaching a World Series, watching their storied rival Boston Red Sox bring home two World Series championships in 2013 and 2018, and watching the Houston Astros cheat their way through the league the last couple of years, the Yankees are coming back more motivated and hungry than ever to bring a championship home to the Bronx. And they have all the tools to do it. With a young, exciting core of Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Aaron Judge among many others to put runs on the board, Cole, Tanaka, Paxton, and Severino on the mound, and the best bullpen in the sport with Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman, the potential for this squad is through the roof.
The most die-hard Yankee fan could have a conversation with the most anti-Yankee baseball observer and would come to a mutual conclusion: The Yankees are going to be a threat in 2020. No matter the number of games, with a healthy roster the Yankees are going to be the team to beat.