After the longest delay in the sport’s storied history, Major League Baseball Opening Day 2020, is finally here! The season will officially kick off tonight in the Nations Capital, Washington DC, as the reigning World Series Champion Washington Nationals host the New York Yankees in game one of a three-game set.
— MLB (@MLB) July 23, 2020
Starting for the Yankees is Gerrit Cole (0-0 0.00 ERA), and for Washington, it is Max Scherzer (0-0 0.00ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 4:08 PST from Nationals Park in Washington DC.
New York Yankees
The Yankees enter this season with hopes of another World Series title and are the odds on favorite to take home the American League pennant in 2020. The long delay to the start of the season has allowed New York to finally get healthy. After seeing several of their best players spend long stretches on the IL last year, New York has their best guys ready to play ball in 2020. That is scary for the rest of the American League.
This Yankees team won 103 games last season, playing without Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Miguel Andujar for much of the year. All of those guys are back now, and this Yankees team is going to smash opposing pitching.
Gerrit Cole (0-0 0.00 ERA)
The Yankees made a big splash in free agency when they brought in ace starting pitcher, Gerrit Cole, from the Houston Astros on one of the richest contracts in Major League Baseball history. Cole was a former first-round draft pick, going number one overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011, and was basically unhittable in his two seasons with the Houston Astros, racking up a 35-10 record with a 2.68 ERA and a mind-boggling 602 strikeouts.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 22, 2020
Cole is expected to be the ace of this Yankees starting rotation and is hoping that he can lead the Yankees, the team that he grew up rooting for, to a World Series appearance this year, like he did last year, with the Astros. Pitching to your own team in summer camp likely won’t convert all that well to the regular season production, but Cole did manage to strike out 16 guys in his two summer camp starts against this ferocious Yankees lineup. You can bet he will be ready to pitch tonight on Opening Day.
The Washington Nationals will do something that they have never done tonight in their home opener, and that is play a game as the defending World Series Champions. The Nationals won the first World Series in franchise history last year when they rode an elite starting rotation to an unlikely championship.
They say it is always tougher to stay on the mountain top than it is to get there, and Washington certainly felt that in the offseason when they saw World Series hero and the face of the franchise, Anthony Rendon, bolt to Los Angeles as a free agent.
The Nats couldn’t afford to pay both Rendon and starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg and decided that they wanted to keep their starting rotation intact, and paid Strasburg nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to stay in Washington.
Max Scherzer (0-0 0.00 ERA)
There aren’t many pitchers that have ever been as good as Max Scherzer has been in his Big League career. Mad Max has won Cy Young Awards in both leagues, something only Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Roy Halladay have done, that puts him in some very elite company. Scherzer has a total of three Cy Young Award wins and has finished in the top five of the voting in seven consecutive seasons.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 23, 2020
Even last year, when he missed some time with injury, he managed to finish third in the Cy Young Award voting in the National League with a 2.92 ERA and 243 strikeouts in 27 starts. His K/9 ratio of 12.7 last season was the highest ever in his career. At age 36, you would have to expect that Scherzer will slow down at some point, but we haven’t seen any signs of that yet, and until we do, it is hard not to like him in any game he pitches.
Who Do I Like?
What a blockbuster matchup we have in store for you tonight from the Nation’s Capital! These are two of the best teams in all of baseball, and I expect both of these teams to be playing meaningful games in October. So, in a matchup of two elite teams, both with their aces on the mound, where do I draw the line?
In my opinion, home-field advantage is going to be a bigger factor this year than ever before. Yeah, I know that the fans won’t be in the stands, and you might think that would make these sites mostly neutral, but when you look at how travel will work this year, it far outweighs any lack of fan attendance. Traveling anywhere right now in the middle of a pandemic is brutal, and that is going to be the case for these teams as well.
These players are going to be locked down, quarantined, tested, and retested, and the travel schedule is going to be a tough task. That is why Major League Baseball limited games to their divisional counterparts from the other league to limit travel, because they knew it was going to be very hard on the players.
I can back the defending World Series Champions, at home, on Opening Day, with an assassin like Mad Max Scherzer on the mound, and I get to pick up dog money? UUUMMM yeah, give me some of that. I have spent the last several weeks breaking down the Major League Baseball season in great detail, and I expect the New York Yankees to be really, really good in 2020.
That being said, if you are going to give me Max Scherzer as a home dog, against anybody, I am going to take it every single time and feel like I am stealing. I know the last time we got to see live baseball was a very long time ago, but let me remind you about the last time these two starting pitchers matched up.
It was last year in game five of the World Series, with everything on the line. Scherzer picked up the win in the head to head matchup, and it helped lead his team to a world title. Now, things are clearly different as Cole now plays for New York, and the Nationals have a retooled lineup, but in a heavyweight title fight between Scherzer and Cole, I am backing Mad Max. Give me the Washington Nationals as home underdogs tonight in game one, getting +123!