It has been 11 long years since the New York Yankees played in a World Series. In fact, the 2010s were the first decade in which the team didn’t win a pennant since the 1910s. Add in the fact that the Red Sox have won two more titles since, and the Yankees faithful are itching for a return to October dominance.
Sportsbooks believe the 11-year streak will end in 2020, as the Yankees are +350 to win the World Series this season, the best odds in the American League and tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best odds overall.
The AL East has been a beast over the years with the Yankees battling the Boston Red Sox for the division title nearly every year. The other three teams have gone in cycles competitor wise as well, and now the Tampa Bay Rays are every bit a legit title contender.
The Yankees have made the playoffs three years in a row but have not been able to get back to the World Series with two American League Championship Series losses to the Houston Astros sandwiched around an American League Divisional Series loss to the hated Red Sox.
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New York Yankees 2019 Results
The New York Yankees went 103-59 and won the AL East by seven games over the Rays in 2019. They swept the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS but fell to the Astros in six games in a hotly contested ALCS.
Injuries hampered some of the big-name Yankees with Giancarlo Stanton limited to 18 games while SS Didi Gregorius, now on the Philadelphia Phillies, played in 82 games.
Aaron Judge played in 102 games, and a wrist injury zapped some of his power. Finally, after two straight top 10 Cy Young Award finishes, Luis Severino pitched just three times, and after Tommy John surgery, he will miss all of 2020.
The players available to Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman got the job done. The offense became the first team in MLB history to have 14 players hit at least 10 home runs. The Bronx Bombers hit a franchise-record 306, finishing one behind the Twins.
The Yankees had a winning record in every month of the 2019 season and were only shut out twice. New York dominated the division, going 17-2 against Baltimore, 14-5 against Boston, 12-7 against Tampa Bay and 11-8 against Toronto.
New York Yankees Key Additions
The 2020 offseason was all about Improving the pitching for the playoffs. Mission accomplished, as the Yankees spent $324 million over nine seasons to sign Gerrit Cole from Houston.
Cole finished second in the AL Cy Young voting last year to Houston teammate Justin Verlander. He was 20-5 with a league-best 2.50 ERA over 212 1/3 innings and also led the majors with 326 strikeouts. Cole then went 4-1 in the playoffs in five starts with a 1.72 ERA.
Other than that, Cashman had a rather quiet offseason. He re-signed outfielder Brett Gardner and also added pitchers Chad Bettis and Adam Warren on minor-league deals. But Warren has already been released.
With the big money going to Cole, the Yankees let most of their free agents sign elsewhere. Gone are shortstop Didi Gregorius, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and pitcher Dellin Betances.
Gregorius signed with Philadelphia after hitting .238/.276/.441 in just 82 games last season. The shortstop slugged 16 homers and drove in 61, but that position now belongs full time to youngster Gleyber Torres.
With the big bats injured, the Yankees acquired Encarnacion from the Mariners in June. In 44 games with New York, he hit 13 home runs, drove in 37 runs and hit .249, but he is now on the Chicago White Sox.
Betances pitched just one time in 2019 after suffering a shoulder injury and then tearing his Achilles. In 2018, the reliever had four saves, four wins and a 2.70 ERA in 66 innings while striking out 115 batters.
The Yankees also lost their wins leader from 2019, as Domingo German was suspended for 81 games after violating the league’s domestic violence policy. He went 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 24 starts last year. German has 63 games left on his suspension, so he cannot pitch in 2020.
Also gone from the roster is CC Sabathia, who announced his retirement at the end of the 2019 campaign. As a 38-year-old in 2019, he went 5-8 with a 4.95 ERA in 22 starts over 107 1/3 innings. Sabathia retired with 251 career wins and 3093 career strikeouts.
The rotation starts with Cole. The ace has all the expectations that go with being the highest-paid pitcher on the most popular team in the sport.
Behind Cole, the Yankees have three solid options to go 2-4 in the rotation. Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, lefty J.A. Happ and left-hander James Paxton slot in for new pitching coach Matt Blake.
Tanaka went 11-9 last season in 31 starts with a 4.45 ERA over 182 innings. The only question about Tanaka is when will he be ready after suffering a concussion on July 4 when Stanton hit him with a line drive.
Happ was talked about as a trade piece, but is still with the Yankees. Last year, the lefty went 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA in 30 starts and covered 161 1/3 innings.
Paxton was second with 15 wins, and posted a 3.82 ERA in 29 games over 150 2/3 innings. The first-year Yankees hurler also picked up a win in the ALCS while striking out 12 in two starts.
The fifth starter will likely be another lefty in Jordan Montgomery. The 27-year-old pitched twice in the majors last season after recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2018. He made six starts pre-injury in 2018 and was 9-7 in 29 starts in 2017.
When he’s recovered from COVID-19, the closer will once again be hard-throwing lefty Aroldis Chapman. The Cuban native saved 37 games last year while striking out 85 batters in 57 innings.
Until Chapman is ready, the Yankees bullpen will rely on lefty Zack Britton and righties Chad Green, Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle. Britton had 135 saves for the Orioles before moving to New York, while Ottavino posted a 1.90 ERA in a team-high 73 games last year.
Aaron Boone’s offense is absolutely stacked, especially when healthy. There are a variety of options, but a typical lineup should look like this: 2B DJ LeMahieu, RF Aaron Judge, CF Aaron Hicks, DH Giancarlo Stanton, SS Gleyber Torres, C Gary Sanchez, 1B Luke Voit, 3B Gio Urshela, LF Brett Gardner.
LeMahieu made quite the transition to the AL last season as an All-Star and an MVP candidate. He hit .327/.375/.518 last season with 26 homers, 33 doubles, 109 runs scored and 102 RBI, but COVID did slow him down when camp opened in July.
While injuries slowed down Judge, Stanton and Hicks last season, Torres picked up the slack and made the All-Star team. The 23-year-old hit .278/.337/.535 with 38 homers, 90 RBI and 96 runs scored.
Sanchez was also an All-Star behind the plate in 2019, batting .232/.316/.525 with 34 homers, 77 RBI and 62 runs scored.
Voit also went over the 20-homer mark with 21 as he hit .263/.378/.464 while driving in 62 runs. Gardner hit that plateau as well with 28 homers, 74 RBI and 26 doubles while batting .251/.325/.503.
Gio Urshela had 21 homers as well at the hot corner and added 34 doubles with 74 RBI. The 28-year-old hit .314/.355/.534 while scoring 73 runs.
With Stanton, Judge and Hicks healthy, the Yankees have a fantastic bench and depth to rotate players and keep them fresh. OF Mike Tauchman hit 13 homers and collected 18 doubles last season, while Clint Frazier is a former top prospect who had 12 homers in 69 games last season.
New York Yankees Three Key Players
The pandemic helped the Yankees get healthy for the 2020 season, but to take the next step to the World Series, they need those previously injured players to bounce back.
The lineup is great, but it is so much better when Giancarlo Stanton is the feared hitter he’s capable of being. The 2017 NL MVP with the Marlins hit 38 homers in his first season with the Yankees in 2018, driving in 100 runs and batting .266. Those power numbers would have led the 2019 Yankees, and New York needs Stanton 100% healthy.
LeMahieu really made the team go from the leadoff spot, and he was a Gold Glove finalist at second while also playing some first and third. Last season, he finished second in the AL in average, third in hits, seventh in WAR and ninth in runs scored. A repeat shortened season of that will put the Yankees in prime position.
Of course, the whole reason the Yankees went out and spent money on Cole was to get over the ALCS hump. They paid for an ace, and they expect to get an ace, not only in the regular season but as a starter who can go twice, maybe three times in a postseason series. If Cole lives up to the promise, it takes the pressure off the other starters and the bullpen.
New York Yankees Schedule Breakdown
The Yankees will play 40 games against AL East opponents and 20 inter-league games against NL East opponents.
In a unique twist, the Yankees will play their first seven games against National League teams as they start with three in Washington, two in Philadelphia, and two at home against the Phillies.
Schedule makers were kind to the Yankees, as they will play host to Boston and Tampa Bay a combined 13 times and play those teams on the road seven times, apiece.
On the interleague side, they don’t travel to defending NL East champion Atlanta and play three games in each stadium against the cross-town rival Mets.
If the final week still has a playoff spot on the line for the Yankees, they should be in good shape, as they play the last seven games of the regular season against the Blue Jays and Marlins.
The Yankees enter the shortened 2020 season at +350 to win the World Series, according to BetUs. The Astros are next at +550 as far as AL teams go, and then it is a big dropoff to the Twins (+1300) and Rays (+1600).
As far as regular-season wins go, the over/under for the Yankees is 36.5 wins. That projects out to a 100-win season in a normal year, and the Yankees have hit that number or better in both seasons under Boone.
Given their fantastic lineup and addition of Cole, the Yankees should make the playoffs and take a serious run at 35 to 40 wins. The big question will be if they are healthy enough to hold off the likes of the Astros, Twins, Rays, A’s and Indians to win the pennant and head to their first World Series since 2009.