Baseball is back! And it begins with a doozy on Thursday when World Series favorite New York Yankees visit reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals. Thanks to COVID the offseason dragged on longer than expected allowing the Nats to enjoy their hard work from a season ago. Of course they did have to do it in the middle of a global pandemic so that might have taken away from the excitement. Even worse is that fans of the team won’t be allowed inside the ballpark on Opening Day in what would have been the ceremonial lifting of the championship banner.
Oh well, we have baseball and that’s what matters. After months of haggling between players and owners a 60-game schedule was adopted. That leaves little room for error and the Nats are hoping for a better start. Last year they won just 19 of their first 50 games and hit the 60-game mark with a record of 27-33. There isn’t time to turn things around in 2020 with the schedule 37 percent of the normal 162 games.
The 2020 season opener for both clubs takes place on Thursday, July 23, at 7 p.m. ET from Nationals Park in Washington DC. The game will air live on ESPN with betting options for every game on the 2020 MLB schedule available at BookMaker.eu.
Yankees vs Nationals MLB Odds
New York Yankees -143
Washington Nationals +129
We really don’t know what to expect with MLB and the rest of the sporting world entering unchartered waters. The typical marathon of a baseball season is now a sprint and teams can’t afford to waste games like the Nats did in the early part of last season. Their record at the 60-game mark in 2019 likely would have left them out of the playoffs in a shortened campaign.
Teams will have expanded rosters at the start of the season with no limit on the number of pitchers. Since most clubs are in extended spring – or summer – training, we’re likely to see a good number of hurlers take the mound to alleviate stress, at least in the early going. That plan blows up the pitcher’s duel we get on Thursday when Cy Young favorites in their respective leagues Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer go at it.
Probable Pitchers: Cole vs Scherzer
A monumental duel between slinging righties gets the season started in style. Cole makes his debut in pinstripes after what should have been a Cy Young winning season. He went 20-5 last year with the Astros posting a 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and a MLB-best 326 strikeouts in 212.1 innings.
A solid pitcher in the NL, Cole has been great in his two-year AL stint going 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA in the junior circuit. That production allowed him to sign a lucrative free agent deal with the Yanks. Cole has a score to settle with the Nats as well. He lost to Scherzer in Game 1 of last year’s World Series and tossed 7.0 innings of three-hit ball to win Game 5. In six career regular season starts against Washington he’s 3-3 with a 2.92 ERA.
Coming off one of his worst seasons, three-time Cy Young winner Scherzer gets the nod for the Nats. He went 11-7 compiling his lowest win total in a decade and tossed only 172.1 innings, the first time he didn’t surpass 200 in six seasons. He can still bring it, though, fanning 243 while leading the Majors in strikeout to walk ratio.
Scherzer failed to make at least 30 starts for the first time since his rookie season. Injuries played a role making us wonder if Mad Max is on the down slope of his career. The additional downtime due to COVID may rejuvenate him after ailments and a lengthy postseason run. We’ll find out in a hurry if he can be as dominant as in years past.
The Yankees had the highest scoring team in the Majors last season churning out nearly six runs per game while blasting 306 homers. A large portion of that offense returns with a healthy Aaron Judge expected to add even more to an already potent lineup. Breaking into the bigs with 52 homers in 2017, Judge was limited the last two seasons by injuries and hit just 27 dingers in each season. He probably wouldn’t have been ready had the season started on time, but the shutdown allowed him to get healthy for the shortened run. The Yanks are also hopeful Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez can play most games this year. Stanton missed all but 18 contests a season ago and will slot in as the DH.
Yankees vs Nationals Pick: Yankees -143 and the OVER 7.5 runs
Pitchers typically have the upper hand at the beginning of the season, but like everything else in this wacky year that’s up for debate. The Yankees mashed the ball last year without much assistance from Stanton and just a little more from Judge. They may have difficulty touching up Scherzer, but once he leaves the game, and he will, look for the pinstripes to do some damage against what was an awful bullpen in 2019. We are going to see runs scored despite the marquee pitching matchup. Take the over and the Yankees on the moneyline.
Check out the latest MLB betting odds.