The New York Yankees and the teams to watch in 2020

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve

All eyes this coming baseball season will be on the New York Yankees.  Following two years of 100 wins or more, this year the Yankees will have new energy moving forward into spring training.  This should be a year where the Yankees could, for the first time since 1998 have won well into the hundreds, possibly eclipsing the 1998 total of 114.  There are three reasons for this optimistic projection.  One is that the Yankees already strong, have improved their team with the addition of a true ace, possibly the best all-around pitcher in all of baseball.  Gerrit Cole is a pitcher still coming into his prime.  He has continually improved right through the previous season.  He is a big game pitcher that was 20-5 with an ERA of just 2.50.  In the postseason, he was  4-1 with a 1.107 ERA.  He will lead a pitching rotation that includes Luis Severino, James Paxton, and Masahiro Tanaka.  The fifth in the rotation will probably be Jordan Montgomery until Domingo German (18-4) returns from likely suspension.   The New York Yankees have one of the strongest bullpens in baseball, and that even considers the loss of Dellin Betances that didn’t even pitch last year.  Add to that that the Yankees may not be finished strengthening it’s pitching.

Dynamic Lineup:  The starting lineup will match up with anyone in baseball.  Leading off with Silver Slugger DJ LeMahieu, who is a hitting machine, will be followed by Aaron Judge who is a home run machine when healthy.  Third, in the lineup will be Gleyber Torres the 2019 Yankee home run (38) leader. After that it doesn’t get any easier for opposing pitchers, as Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton can clean up.  The bottom four in the line up include Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Mike Tauchman and Brett Gardner who had 28 homers last year.  And don’t forget, as of now the Yankee still have Miguel Andujar that can be inserted anywhere in the line with his hitting power.

Yankee depth:  The third reason to be optimistic about the 2020 New York Yankees is their incredible depth that helped the Yankees get 103 wins last year.  No matter who is in the lineup, they will have an incredibly talented bench and a multitude of excellent ready or near ready players and pitchers in the farm system.  Last year with an unprecedented number of injuries, the Yankees just took the next man up approach, and Manager Aaron Boone just reached into the farm system to get the pieces he needed.  It seemed as though the lineup was changing daily.  Many of those next up players turned out to have star-like seasons while in the bigs.

2020 teams to watch:  Most likely the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals in the National League will top the League.  Also, expect the Atlanta Braves to be in the mix.  The Dodgers lost pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, but still has an excellent rotation adding a new pitcher two weeks ago and significantly strengthening pitching in their farm system.  The Nationals re-signed RHP Stephen Strasburg and second baseman Howie Kendrick who had a .344 batting average last season.  They also added RHP Kyle Finnegan.  The big change in the Atlanta Braves this year is the addition of LHP Cole Hamels.  They also added RHP Daren O’Day, LHP Will Smith and Travis d’Arnaud from the Rays.  If the Brewers or Cardinals outperform last year, they may be in the mix as well.  If there is a surprise in the National League, it may well be the New York Mets.  They lost Yoenis Cespedes.  They still have two great pitchers in deGrom and Syndergaard, who both performed last year and will have to improve this year.  A bright spot is Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis who will probably combine for at least 60 home runs.

In the American League:  Throughout the season the  New York Yankees will be watching The Houston Astros, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Minnesota Twins.  The Houston Astros are a lesser team this year with the loss of the pitching prowess of Gerrit Cole.  They also have done little to improve the team.  They will be contenders again and should be up in the 100 wins area.  The Rays this offseason have lost more than they have gained.  They lost Avisail Garcia, Tommy Pham, and Travis d’Arnaud, but signed slugger  Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.  They seem to be a lesser team, but I include them as they always seem to be the little team that can.  The Minnesota Twins will be contenders with their second-year manager Rocco Baldelli, who was Manager of the Year.  The Twins resigned Jake Odorizzi, Matt Wisler, and Michael Pineda to the pitching staff, but also signed RHP Sergio Romo, RHP Tyler Clippard, LHP Rich Hill, and RHP Homer Baily.  The Twins will look different this year but will be near the top.

Surprise or no surprise:  The big surprise this year may be the Toronto Blue Jays and their young energetic players.   They significantly improved their pitching rotation by adding Los Angeles Dodger pitcher LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu.  They also added LHP Tanner Roark and RHP Shun Yamaguchi.  Their young lineup is coming into it’s prime.  The Jays just maybe near the top of the League.  Under the no surprise category is the Miami Marlins, the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and baseball’s worst Detroit Tigers, all of which have done little to improve their teams and will be at or near the bottom of their respective divisions.  The big question mark is how the Boston Red Sox will do.  They are pretty much in a mess, as they try to cut costs and not do anything significant to improve the team that only won 84 games last season.