Yanks look for their second straight win as 1.5 run favorites over the Nationals
The New York Yankees came away with the first win of the 2020 Major League Baseball season yesterday after they trounced the Washington Nationals by a final score of 4-1. Nats’ ace Max Scherzer was shelled for four runs in a little over five innings pitched, but he did manage to strikeout 11 Yankees’ batters. On the other side, Gerritt Cole was excellent in his first start in pinstripes, holding the Nationals to one hit in five innings. The game was eventually canceled after five innings due to inclement weather.
At the end of the day, the difference in this one was the experienced bats of the New York Yankees. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton both recorded multiple hits in the game. Stanton had the swing of the game, launching a Home Run 459 feet to give the Yanks a 2-0 early lead that they never looked back from. When all was said and done, Stanton and Judge combined for four hits and four RBIs yesterday.
The interesting headlines surrounding baseball started rolling in before the game started. Just hours prior to the game’s first pitch, Washington General Manager Mike Rizzo revealed that Outfielder Juan Soto tested positive for COVID-19 and would have to miss the season opener. Rizzo said that Soto is asymptomatic at this time. The star outfielder will need to record two negative tests before he can return to the field.
The Nationals definitely could have used Juan Soto’s services yesterday. The defending World Series champs were held to just one hit in 16 at-bats. Juan Soto probably could have made a difference in the game. He had the third-highest batting average of all Nationals’ players in the playoffs and the fourth-highest batting average of all Washington players during the 2019 Regular Season.
After watching the game last night, I realized something almost immediately. This is going to be a rough start for Major League Baseball pitchers. We are in unprecedented times. This Major League Baseball season is completely different than any other in the sport’s history. Sure, pitchers have had a few days to warm up and practice, but they have not seen any real opportunity to throw meaningful pitches in quite some time.
This realization became clear in the first inning of the game. Max Scherzer is a surefire Hall of Fame pitcher, but even he looked a little jumpy out there. He settled down after the Stanton homer, but he still allowed two more runs in the game for four total and an eventual loss. This is a bad start for Max Scherzer, a player who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for the last five to ten years and has done things statistically that few people on the planet Earth have done. If Max Scherzer is going to struggle, what hope is there for the other guys further down the rotation that are not as talented?
Here’s what I’m trying to say: I believe the delayed start to the MLB season will negatively affect pitchers. Batters are always ready to hit, but Pitchers are not always ready to throw their best stuff (that’s why they throw warmup pitches in the bullpen). Pitchers will eventually find their footing, but they will have to do it quickly. In an abbreviated, 60-game season, teams do not have time to let pitchers try and work through their struggles or growing pains. Thankfully for the Yankees, there was nothing but smooth sailing last night for Gerritt Cole
Now let us look ahead to the second game of the three-game home-stand the Nats have against the Yankees. The Nationals will be sending out the 2019 World Series co-MVP, Stephen Strasburg, who had one of the most impressive postseason pitching runs in recent history. Meanwhile, the Yankees will be sending James Paxton to the mound as he begins his second season with New York.
In terms of pitching matchup, I don’t think this one is close. Stephen Strasburg is leaps and bounds better than James Paxton. Strasburg went 5-0 in the playoffs last year with a 1.98 ERA. As for Paxton, he had a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts in 2019. The pitching matchup favors the Washington Nationals in this game.
I think this is Washington’s game to lose. It will be much easier for the Nationals to get hits off James Paxton as opposed to Gerritt Cole. Even if the Nats record only two hits tomorrow, that is still a 100% increase in the number of hits when compared to the Opening Day Game. The Yanks’ bats will show up, but I don’t have faith in James Paxton to limit the Nationals, even without Juan Soto. Nationals win and cover the spread.