Saturday, July 25, Washington, DC, Nationals Park; 7:15 p.m. ET
New York Yankees Odds
With one swing of the bat on Thursday night, Giancarlo Stanton walloped his way back into the everyday lineup for the Yankees. Stanton, who battled injuries last season and during spring training, also drove in three runs Thursday after injuries limited him to 59 at-bats in 18 games last season. He sat most of spring with a calf injury.
“It’s about as good as you can draw it up starting the game out that way,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “For G to go up there and clear it out, that’s a huge shot in the arm when you’re facing the other team’s ace and you have your ace in the mound.”
Stanton, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks would not have been ready for the originally scheduled season opener on March 26 and neither would James Paxton, who starts Saturday. The Yankees hope for a similar charge from Paxton. He was recovering from a back injury when the sport was shut down but is fully recovered. He made his final appearance in summer camp by throwing 84 pitches in five simulated innings on Monday.
Washington Nationals odds
Washington’s advantage most of the second half of last season was that, when once ace faltered or came up short, the Nationals just flipped over to the next. In this case, Stephen Strasburg awaits Saturday night following a loss in the rain-shortened opener. The second of a three-game set with the Yankees features Strasburg, who went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA last season and then won five postseason games, including two in the World Series as MVP.
“I did my best to stay ready,” Strasburg said of being active during the coronavirus shutdown. “It’s just about getting built up. My arm’s feeling good. It’s feeling strong. I think it’s just a matter of getting back the little bit of extra extension in your delivery that it’s kind of hard to simulate when I was pretty much throwing into a net.”
Strasburg logged his last preparations for this game on Monday in Baltimore when he allowed one run on six hits and threw 81 pitches in five innings. The Nationals are still finding their way offensively and overcoming the surprise of losing middle-of-the-lineup thunder in Juan Soto (coronavirus).