After months of fruitless bargaining between MLB owners and the MLB Players' Association, which for the most part resembled two children sitting at the corners of the same room and refusing to share their toys, plans for a 60-game season were unilaterally implemented by Commissioner Manfred in late June.
This season will be wildly unlike any season in baseball's history, not only because of the 102 games that have evaporated into thin air due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has plagued the world, but also due to the set of new rules being implemented for the first time ever, including a universal DH, having a runner on second to begin extra-innings and the three-batter minimum rule for relievers.
A team's major league roster will likely be composed of 30 players, with each team having a 60-man Player Pool composed of players that each team anticipates having the opportunity to contribute at some point during the season.
Luis Cessa, DJ LeMahieu, and Aroldis Chapman have so far tested positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately, Chapman will continue to be sidelined for an indefinite amount of time—we’re all wishing him a speedy recovery. LeMahieu and Cessa on the other hand, have made their welcome return to Yankees camp but it remains unclear whether they’ll be able to ramp up in time for Opening Day.
The general consensus from industry experts is that the New York Yankees are well-positioned to benefit from the shortened, delayed season. Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, and James Paxton—all of whom were projected to be sidelined for a March 26 Opening Day—are now ready to go. The Yankees’ worst stretch over 60 games last year was 37-23, which inspires confidence in the fact they’ll be able to repeat as AL East champs in 2020, with a relatively easy schedule.
Summer camp thus far has reinforced many of the same storylines we tracked going into Spring Training—minus, thankfully, the mounting injury concerns—the Yankees’ young arms, especially Michael King and Clarke Schmidt, are looking more impressive, refined and sounding much more analytically-savvy at the beginning of what some fans are calling the Matt Blake era. On the offensive side of the ball, the Yankees’ depth pieces have also been impressive in intrasquad action; in a shortened season this is more important than ever considering every single player is at risk of contracting COVID-19 at any point in the season. Depth pieces across the team could be asked to step up at any time, and if 2019 was any indication, the Yankees are more than equipped to plug-and-play their bench players in the event of an injury or a positive coronavirus test.
With under a week to go for the season to begin, all eyes will be on Washington as our 324-million-dollar-man Gerrit Cole takes a regular-season mound for the first time in a Yankee uniform against a fellow ace and top Major League pitcher in Max Scherzer. The Yankees should be in a good spot to win the series, considering that some of the Nationals’ key players have been slow to ramp up due to their late arrivals at camp, but make no mistake; this series is far from a cakewalk. Either way, you couldn’t have asked for a better opening series. Settle in, Yankees fans; this season’s going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It’s not perfect, but it is baseball, and if it’s going to be anything like the rest of 2020 so far, it’s gonna be one hell of a ride.