NY Yankees vs Washington Nationals - Predictions, Odds & Picks

  • The defending World Series Champions want to get off to a fast start
  • The New York Yankees, one of two common picks to win the title this year, look to prove they’re the favorites
  • This is a matchup of two of the top five pitchers in baseball, runs may be at a premium

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What New York Yankees at Washington Nationals
Where Nationals Park, Washington D.C.
When Thursday, July 23, 2020, 7:08 PM EST
How to Watch ESPN

It almost feels too good to be true, but it’s not — baseball is back. What better way to get started with this abbreviated campaign than the defending World Series Champions against the odds-on-favorites to win the title this year.

Everybody has discussed just how different this year will be from any other in the history of the sport and it’s hard to overstate that. The amount of question marks as far as how pitchers will be handled, the universal designated hitter, new extra-inning rules and so on are seemingly endless.

After a few weeks, we will likely see the way most teams will manage this season, but it remains to be seen as far as Opening Day. With only 60 games in the 2020 season, that is equivalent to each game being worth approximately 2.7 games in a normal year.That means one win is essentially a three-game sweep in any other year.

With the importance of every game heightened, how will that change the way Aaron Boone and Dave Martinez manage their teams in game one?

Gerrit Cole has pitched more than 200 innings in five of the last six years. Scherzer has done the same in seven of the last eight years and has thrown at least 170 innings for 11 consecutive seasons. The point is, these starters are bulldogs and are expected to throw late into every game they pitch.

But are they ready for a 100-120 pitch workload on opening day? My guess is yes. Scherzer threw 109 on Opening Day last year. Cole threw 101 in his first start, but only threw 110 or more on two occasions all of last regular season.

Yankees vs Nationals Odds

Team Run Spread Total Money Line
New York Yankees -1.5 (+115) O 7.5 (-110) -139
Washington Nationals +1.5 (-139) U 7.5 (-110) +125

Odds from BetMGM

Are the managers careful to not overwork their aces on day one? Or do they know that a loss means they’re essentially starting the season 0-3? Those questions make these early games so tough to predict.

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Yankees Health Benefits From Delayed Start

Had the season started on time, the New York Yankees would have been without their two biggest boppers, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. As things currently stand, they’re both expected to be in the lineup on Thursday night.

Judge hit two dingers against the Mets in Sunday’s exhibition game while Stanton hit one as well. And they weren’t the only Bronx Bombers flexing their muscles; Gary Sanchez and Luke Voit also went yard for a total of five home runs on the day.

Nationals Can’t Afford 2019 Repeat at Least Not the Beginning

Everybody has heard of the World Series hangover – when the team coming off of hoisting the Commissioners trophy gets off to a sluggish start before rounding into form. With the 60-game sprint that is the 2020 season, the Nationals cannot afford that in the slightest.

Last year through 60 games the Nats were 27-33, sitting near the NL East basement.

The good news for Washington is outside of the Yankees, it has a very favorable opening to the season. The Nats have a home-and-home four-game set against a pesky Blue Jays team, before seeing the basement-dwelling Marlins, Mets and Orioles. But Washington can’t look ahead, especially not with the Yankees in town.

Mano a Mano

One of the most exciting aspects of the MLB’s first game in 2020 is seeing the Yankees put their shiny new toy on display. The 324-million-dollar man, Gerrit Cole, puts on the pinstripes after leading the AL in strikeouts (326) and ERA (2.50) to go with an absurd career-best 0.895 WHIP in Houston last year. Cole was close to untouchable.

One of the few names who is expected to keep pace against Cole will toe the rubber opposite him Thursday — Nationals ace Max Scherzer. Scherzer’s injury-hampered 2019 was still better than most: 11-7 record with a 2.92 ERA, 243 strikeouts, 1.027 WHIP, and a third-place finish in the NL Cy Young voting. However, he’ll have to be better than his final exhibition start, when he gave up two three-run shots, one to former Yankee Didi Gregorius, the other to former teammate Bryce Harper.

Cole and Scherzer faced off against one another in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series and while he didn’t last as long in the game, Scherzer picked up the win. Scherzer went five innings, giving up two earned runs, five hits, and three walks while striking out seven. Cole went seven innings and struck out six but gave up five earned runs – his most in a game since May 22.

Expected Lineups

Just to give you a refresher because it’s been a while since we’ve seen baseball, these are the lineups we are projecting the two teams to run out on Thursday.

Yankees: DJ LeMahieu (2B), Aaron Judge (RF), Gleyber Torres (SS), Giancarlo Stanton (DH), Aaron Hicks (CF), Gary Sanchez (C), Luke Voit (1B), Brett Gardner (LF), Gio Urshela (3B)

Nationals: Trea Turner (SS), Adam Eaton (RF), Juan Soto (LF), Howie Kendrick (DH), Eric Thames (1B), Starlin Castro (2B), Carter Kieboom (3B), Yan Gomes (C), Victor Robles (CF)

Our pick

We’re doing a Yankees double-dip. Scherzer and Cole are equivalently dominant, but the loss of Anthony Rendon in the middle of the Nationals lineup is a big hole to fill. We’re taking the Yankees both money line and with the spread.

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Tony Garcia

Expert on Baseball

Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.