Major League Baseball returns on Thursday with the first game of a doubleheader featuring the New York Yankees (-1.5) on the road against the defending World Series champs Washington Nationals. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. EST at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., and can be viewed on ESPN.
What to Know – New York Yankees
The Yankees went out this offseason and signed Gerrit Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP last season) to the largest MLB contract for a pitcher in league history. Cole will toe the rubber for the Yankees in the opener after pitching the last two seasons for the Houston Astros.
Last season the Yankees finished with the second-best record in the American League at 103-59 en route to an American League East title. The Yankees swept the Minnesota Twins, 3-0, in the opening round of the playoffs before falling 4-2 to the Houston Astros.
Offensively, the Yankees may be without one of their star players in DJ LeMahieu who contacted the coronavirus and missed most of the team workouts. He has since returned to the lineup and may be ready to go on Opening Night.
With or without LeMahieu, the Yankees still feature one of the leagues deepest lineups. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and Gary Sanchez all provide power to the roster.
The Yankees are second behind the Los Angeles Dodgers as favorites to win the World Series at +400.
What to Know – Washington Nationals
The defending World Series champions take the field on Opening Night to defend their title. Washington will counter the Yankees Gerrit Cole with a veteran ace of their own in Max Scherzer (11-7, 2.92 ERA, 1.03 WHIP last season).
Washington finished second behind the Atlanta Braves last season in the National League East with a 93-69 record. The Nationals got hot when it counted, taking down the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and St. Louis Cardinals en route to a World Series bout against the Houston Astros. The Nationals won the final two games of the series to claim their first title.
The Nationals return a core of uber-talented young stars in Juan Soto, Trea Turner, and Victor Robles. Additionally, Washington went out and signed Starlin Castro and Eric Thames in the offseason to bolster their lineup. Soto belted 34 home runs and tallied 110 RBI last season as a 20-year old.
The Nationals are somewhat of an underdog to defend the title. According to Vegas, they are a (+1800) favorite to claim back-to-back titles.
The Pick Is In
These two teams did not face each other in 2019, so there isn’t much to go off from a head-to-head standpoint. The pitching matchup should be a wash, so this will come down to the hitters and the bullpen. In this case, we like the Yankees (-1.5) on the road to knock off the Nationals.