New York Yankees Vs. Washington Nationals
It was announced that the New York Yankees would open their season with a blockbuster prime time game in the nation’s capital. Baseball’s 2020 debut will feature the World Champion Washington Nationals hosting our New York Yankees. As scheduled, Yankee fans will finally get to see their new pitching ace Gerrit Cole face the Nationals Max Scherzer on Baseball’s opening day.
Due to the continuing COVID-19 virus, the rest of the season is not set. Without tickets to be sold to fans, there is no rush to set a schedule in light of the virus. Earlier in the delay of the season, it seemed that several southern parks would have to be used to complete a season. But, since then, things have changed with the virus surging in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California, now it appears to have stabilized to a degree in the northern states that have been slower to reopen up their economies.
The matchup of Cole and Scherzer is quite exciting. Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young Award winner and has had four opening day assignments to date. This will be Gerrit Cole’s first opening day for the New York Yankees after the Yankees went after the most sought after free agent in history and spent $324 million to sign him. The 35-year-old Scherzer for the Nationals went 11-7 with an ERA of 2.92 while the younger Cole went 20-5 with an ERA of 2.50 in 33 starts last season.
New York Yankees season will be like an obstacle course
This season will likely see continuing adjustments to everything, including the baseball schedule, which very well may be reset several times. It is most likely that the season schedule will be issued piecemeal as MLB observes the ever-changing coronavirus, which ultimately will control everything in baseball this year. With no tickets to sell, it gives MLB this luxury if you can call it that.
Just over a week ago, the Philidelphia Phillies had seven positive coronavirus cases, three players, and four other staff. The New York Yankees reported four cases among stadium staff in Florida. With other infections across baseball, MLB shut down the spring training in southern parks temporarily for deep cleaning. Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo of New York made it known that the state would work with the Yankees and Mets to make a spring training in New York happen, saying “Play ball.”
Part of that obstacle course will be for both of the July 23rd opening day teams keeping coronavirus cases at a minimum which is job #1. For all MLB teams, this is critical to completing spring training and the season if the season can be completed. There are so many things that can go wrong between now and then.
Season Landscape has changed for the Yankees, but there are still questions
After having a historic amount of injuries to players last year, the New York Yankees were to start the season with no Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery), no James Paxton (back surgery), or Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery). Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton were also a question for opening day, Judge with shoulder problems, and Stanton with a calf strain.
With the three month delay at the start of the season, almost all of that has changed. Severino will be out for the entire season, but Paxton, Hicks, and Stanton have recovered and are now ready to play when the season starts on July 23rd. Unfortunately, things have not gone as well for slugger Aaron Judge.
After a battery of tests and MRIs, Aaron Judge’s shoulder problem turned out to be a fractured first rib that he endured in a diving catch near the end of the last season. Because of the location of the fracture and the muscles attached to that rib, rehab has been slow.
About a month ago, hitting coach Marus Thames indicated that Judge’s rehab was going as expected but that he still had not swung a bat. Judge after the diagnosis stayed at the training complex in Tampa when spring training was called off, for treatment and rehab.
With all spring training facilities now being ordered closed, one would have to believe that Judge and others are making their way to Yankee Stadium for spring training 2.0 that is supposed to start on July 3rd. The big question remaining is why the New York Yankees have remained mum on Judge’s progress for the last month. You would have to assume that it would take a miracle for him to play on opening day.
A complete season is still dependent on player union cooperation
With the entire baseball season in flux due to the coronavirus, there will be many changes as the season progresses. Those changes might include changes to the health protocols and the season’s game schedule. Commissioner Rob Manfred can not make these changes all by himself. Any major change to the present agreement will have to be approved by the MLBPA (players union), further complicating an already messed up season that will surely carry an asterisk after it.
What about that man on second base?
The New York Yankees and all the MLB teams have a lot of new rules for the 2020 baseball season. One of the big ones is to start each half-inning after the ninth inning of play with a man on second base, designed to shorten long games, reduce injuries, and reduce time players are exposed to each other. This is a change that is sure to anger baseball purists.
The Yankees may have a foot up on other teams in that situation. Enter the fastest man on the Yankee’s team, Tyler Wade. Wade is extremely fast on the bases. Last year he saw his best batting average with the Yankees in his three-year tenure at .245. Last year while playing in only 43 games, Wade stole seven bases. If Wade is to come off the bench for the man on second situation, it should be exciting.
Might you have forgotten? MLB bits and pieces!
With the last baseball season seemingly a million years ago, many things have changed since then, or even since the postseason. Here’s a look at what some of those changes look like.
Gerrit Cole is now the $324 million New York Yankee ace. Severino is gone for the season with Tommy John surgery. During spring training 1.0 Gerrit Cole and Gary Sanchez have become best friends. The Boston Red Sox already in shambles have lost pitching ace Chris Sale to Tommy John; they also lost star Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price. The Tampa Bay Rays lost a host of players, including Tommy Pham, Emilio Pagán, and top-100 prospect Matthew Liberatore; they are all out.
The New York Mets don’t have Noah Syndergaard, gone for the season with Tommy John surgery, but they did pick up Yankee Dellin Betances. The Cleveland Indians have lost ace Cory Kluber to the Texas Rangers. The Houston Astros get a one year reprieve on boos, heckling, and having beer cans thrown at them. Anthony Rendon of the Nationals joins Mike Trout of the Angels. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg took a $245 million deal to stay with the Nationals. Madison Bumgarner left the Giants for a five year deal with the Diamondbacks.
On the managerial front, Aaron Boone will start his third year as the New York Yankees manager after a 100 game and 103 game-winning season, this year he will go after the Yankee’s 28th World Championship. The Houston Astros will try to repair their damaged reputation as they hire beloved Dusty Baker as their new manager. The Philadelphia Phillies hired ex-Yankee manager Joe Girardi to be at the helm of their team. The Yankees will face the Phillies at least twice this season.
The New York Yankees will have until August 31 to make any blockbuster trade they have in mind. Let’s end this on a bright note. Gerrit and Amy Cole are expecting their first child at any moment. The pair announced during January that they were expecting a new baby near the end of June.
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EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.