After being delayed almost four months from the original March 26 Opening Day, baseball finally returns tonight with two marquee matchups. The first game is between the New York Yankees and defending World Series champions Washington Nationals. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants will follow.
New York and New Jersey bettors will be excited to see the Bronx Bombers back in action for tonight’s opener. They will get see newly signed pitcher Gerrit Cole who joined the team this offseason.
Even with the anticipation, there is a chance of rain in the forecast tonight. As of writing this, there is a 40 percent chance of rain in the D.C. area at the first pitch.
– Yankees ML -130
– Nationals ML +114
– Total 7.5 (-110)
*Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook
New York Yankees Breakdown
The Yankees come into this season with one of the best rosters in baseball. Everyone in the Yankees lineup will be ready for opening day after the team suffered a plethora of injuries in 2019.
New York will start Gerrit Cole tonight after he signed a nine-year $324 million contract with the Yankees. Cole was outstanding in 2019, as he posted a stellar 2.48 xFIP with a 13.82 K/9 ratio. As great as Cole was in 2019, there could be some regression in 2020. He should regress closer to his career 3.22 xFIP, which he should not be ashamed. Overall, expect Cole to be dominant again this season, even if there is some regression in his game. The Yankees bullpen should be good as ever as well. They still have Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, and Tommy Kahnle to go the seventh, eighth, and ninth. New York had the second-best bullpen last season, posting a 7.6 WAR.
Offensively, New York will be better than ever this season. The Yankees averaged 5.82 runs per game in 2019, even with guys like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton missing time. The Yankees should have a healthy Judge and Stanton for the full 60-game stretch. Include guys like Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and DJ LeMahieu into the mix, and this offense is going to be great. If the Yankees can stay healthy, then they will get a difficult nine to face. Everyone in their roster can hit, and pitchers cannot afford to mess up with anyone in the lineup.
Washington Nationals Breakdown
The defending World Series champion Washington Nationals come into the season ready to defend their title. A majority of the World Series talent comes back to D.C. However, they do lose superstar Anthony Rendon as he signed with the Angels in the offseason.
The Nationals will go with Max Scherzer tonight against the Yankees, and there is no better option for an opening day starter. Even at 35 years old, Scherzer is still one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. In 2019, he posted a 2.88 xFIP and 12.69 K/9. Those numbers are not too far off from his career averages, so expect Scherzer to be just as good in 2020. There is a chance the strikeout numbers come down this season, but we will find out soon enough. As for their bullpen, the Nationals had a bottom-10 bullpen in 2019. They could not figure out any consistency last season, and manager Dave Martinez turned to his starters for help during the playoffs. Depending on how long Scherzer goes, the bullpen could become an issue against the Yankees lineup.
The Nationals lineup should be able to hold their own against Gerrit Cole tonight. Washington still has a lineup with names like Juan Soto and Trea Turner to do damage. However, they do lose out on Anthony Rendon this offseason, who posted a seven WAR for the Nationals. Overall, the Nationals young stars should help fill to void of Rendon. Washington will start rookie Carter Kieboom at third base tonight in replacement of Rendon. The Nationals were a top-10 offense and should remain towards the top of the league with the young talent continuing to grow.
The Pick: Over 7.5
Tonight, I am betting the over at 7.5 runs in this matchup. Two of the best pitchers in baseball are going head to head. However, Gerrit Cole could see some regression for his 2019 season. Both lineups are also very good top to bottom, and it is hard to see them staying quiet on opening day.
Also, the MLB season opens up in the middle of the summer. Baseball sees more runs scored during the summer months compared to March and April when the season begins typically. Overs should be coming in early on this season as offenses will not have to deal with colder spring months to get going.