New York Yankees Season Preview
Coming off of a heartbreaking ALCS game 6 loss to the Houston Astros (cheaters, I might add), the New York Yankees will be looking to finally break through and claim their first World Series title since 2009. It’s crazy to imagine that the Yankees didn’t even make it to a World Series game within the past decade. Being the premier team is baseball constantly adds pressure to the Yanks upper management and players to deliver a title, and every season comes with the ultimate expectation of winning a championship.
Did the Yanks acquire enough firepower in the offseason to be the front runners for the title in 2020? The simple answer: yes. However, since the Gerrit Cole signing in January; the Yanks have had some unfortunate injuries sprout up which does bring some concern onto the doorstep, as to whether the injuries will prevent them from not only winning a World Series, but it brings along the possibility of a shorter playoff run. Here are the three big storylines to look out for in 2020 to ensure a World Series win for the Bronx Bombers.
Gerrit Cole Leading by Example
Gerrit Cole didn’t just emerge as a great pitcher last year, he emerged as the unanimous best pitcher in the MLB. In my opinion, he should have won the AL Cy Young, I don’t think any pitcher last year struck fear in opposing batters’ hearts as much as Cole did.
Cole sent 326 batters back to the bench searching for answers last year in only 212 innings… that’s an astounding stat. Cole also placed 3rd in the MLB in ERA in 2019 with a 2.50 showing. Clearly, Gerrit did what was asked of him while an Astro, which led to him commanding an absolutely ASTRONOMICAL contract worth $324 million with the Yanks (Thank you YES Network, $30 parking, and $10 pints). With a contract like that comes an enormous amount of pressure for the flamethrowing ace.
However, I believe that if Cole can continue to obliterate the competition, he can light a spark within the entire pitching staff of the Yanks. Tanaka seems to perform his best work playing second fiddle in a rotation, Montgomery is young and needs a good leader to feel more comfortable, and with Paxton/Severino out for an extended period of time, this will lead to some new faces such as Deivi Garcia and Jonathan Loaisiga (yes, I know he played last season but 15 games still counts as new in my book) to be in need of some guidance along the way.
Look for Gerrit Cole to waltz into October as the AL Cy Young and ace of a ridiculously talented rotation for the Yanks.
Lineup Depth Continues to Dominate
During the 2019 season, the Yankees were decimated with injuries the entire time. Considering that stars – Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, Miguel Andujar, and Gary Sanchez – were out of action for considerable lengths of time, it’s quite impressive that the Yanks still won over 100 games and won the AL East.
This success hinged on the play of the bench players. Gio Urshela became a borderline Gold Glove third baseman, DJ LeMahieu looked like the most dependable hitter in baseball, and Austin Romine/Mike Tauchmann filled in perfectly when needed. The added depth is a testament to some great leadership by GM Brian Cashman in recent years. The ‘baby bombers’ of Judge, Torres, and Sanchez have all developed into perennial all stars, now it’s time to continue filling the big shoes that they leave when they go down by having bench players step up when needed.
In 2020, Urshela should continue to start at 3rd base, leaving Andujar to fill in at 3rd, DH, and potentially left field. The loss of Didi Gregorius in the offseason is no concern for the Yanks as Gleyber Torres looks to fulfill his natural position of SS. I believe Andujar will play a key role as the “5th” infielder this year; if his fielding improves, look for him to become this season’s DJ LeMahieu.
The Yankees outfield is also absolutely loaded with talent yet again. Judge, Stanton, Gardner, Hicks, Frazier, Tauchmann; look for each and every one of these players to fill in admirably throughout the season.
Aaron Judge has been misdiagnosed with shoulder pain; it turns out this nagging injury has been a broken rib the entire time. If diagnosed properly, the injury would be in the final stages of healing right now; however, Judge is looking at a potential 3 month sit-down before he can resume playing. This is awful news as yet another great Yankee is sidelined for a prolonged period of time. For reasons mentioned earlier, I hope the Yankees depth can continue to fill in and dominate while Judge is away.
The Yankees lock up the #1 Seed in Playoffs
Something that the Yankees have not done in the past three seasons is lock up the #1 seed in the American League. If the Yankees want to have the best chance at winning the World Series this year, they MUST lock up the #1 seed. Having home field advantage in the playoffs is always a big plus for a team in the Conference championship round; something the Yanks have failed to get past in 2 of the last 3 seasons (2018 they got slaughtered by the eventual World Series champs Red Sox; who by the way, cheated). I think that the added confidence of a rocking Bronx Zoo can really help the Yanks to get over the hump this year. Expect the Yankees to continue their recent home success this season, and with the extra year of experience I predict they’ll win 50 road games this year.
In the end, I think that the Yankees will be productive this season. If the bats can stay hot, the starting pitching can dominate, and the injuries can be offset by the lineups depth, then look out for the Yanks to compete for a World Series. Aaron Boone’s coaching should play a huge factor in how the Yankees respond to adversity. So far, Boone has proven to be a capable and player friendly leader in the two previous seasons; look for Boone to continue to successfully motivate and encourage the players this season.