Posted on March 1, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine
It was World Series or bust for the New York Yankees in 2019. Despite suffering an almost unfair number of injuries, the Bronx Bombers still managed to win 103 games and reach the ALCS, only to fall short of their goal. Once again, it’ll be World Series or bust in the Bronx. Is this the year that the Yankees triumph in the Fall Classic or will they let another opportunity to win a championship slip through their fingers?
Needing rotation help, the Yankees went out and signed Gerrit Cole to a monster contract during the offseason to lead their rotation. To be fair, Cole will have all the pressure in the world on his shoulders after the big-money move to New York. On the bright side, he was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA last season and is still in the prime of his career at age 29. However, the Yankees suffered a huge loss early in spring training when Luis Severino underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his season before it began.
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The good news is that the rest of New York’s rotation is in good shape. While C.C. Sabathia has retired, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka are still around. With 15 wins and a 3.82 ERA last year, Paxton is far better than most no. 3 starters, although he will miss the early part of the season. Tanaka, meanwhile, is still just 31 and should have plenty left in the tank. Admittedly, the Yankees aren’t crazy about JA Happ, but he’s a solid back-end starter. Plus, Jordan Montgomery has a chance to become a reliable starter now that he’s nearly two years removed from Tommy John surgery. Domingo German, once he returns from a suspension, and Jonathan Loaisiga also give the Yankees a fair amount of rotation depth.
New York’s bullpen has been a strength in recent years and most of the heavy hitters are back in 2020. Aroldis Chapman remains the closer after 37 saves last year. While Dellin Betances left the Bronx, the Yankees still have Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, and Adam Ottavino serving as their primary setup men. The Yanks didn’t get anything out of Betances last year anyway while Ottavino and Britton both out-performed Chapman, so the Yankees will remain comfortable with their late-game options.
To be fair, this isn’t the deepest bullpen the Yankees have had in recent years. However, Chad Green and Luis Cessa are proven in middle relief. The Yankees will also be eager to see if Ben Heller and Michael King can carve out bullpen roles. Plus, there could be some spillover from the starting rotation into the bullpen, which should make the Yankees feel comfortable with the depth they have among their relief pitchers.
It’s amazing that the Yankees were able to lead the majors in runs last season despite all of their injuries. Assuming they get better health, New York’s lineup could be even more potent in 2020. There’s surely no lack of power available if everyone is healthy with Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. Keep in mind that Gleyber Torres led the team in homers last year with 38 while Gary Sanchez chipped in 34 long balls.
Not to be overlooked is Luke Voit, Gio Urshela, and DJ LeMahieu, who were all consistent contributors in 2019. It’ll also be interesting to see if Miguel Andujar can pick up where he left off in 2018 after sitting out most of 2019. He’ll likely be the primary DH with Urshela taking over at third base. Of course, the Yankees have more than enough depth to rotate players into that spot and give guys regular rest without skipping a beat.
With 103 wins last season, somehow the Yankees have a win projection of just 101.5 for 2020. Admittedly, winning 100 games is no easy feat, but the Yankees did it last season amidst all of the injuries. With Cole, the rotation should be better and the runs should flow easily, even if the Yankees experience a few injuries. Despite a more competitive AL East, look for the Yankees to surpass 101.5 wins, run away with another division crown, and enter the postseason as the favorite in the American League.