Yankees favored to win American League pennant
They've been shut out of the World Series for a decade, but the New York Yankees appear to be on their way back in 2020. Oddsmakers have installed the Bombers as the +150 favorite to win the American League pennant, a full point lower than the defending AL champion Astros (+260). It's a long way back to the rest of the pack.
Odds to win the American League Championship Series
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Cole will lead the rotation
The Yankees were not incredibly busy during the offseason, but they made up for a lack of quantity with a quality. They signed Gerrit Cole, who led the MLB in strikeouts last season (326). Cole was signed to a nine-year, $324 million pact, the richest deal ever for a pitcher. He'll anchor a rotation that also features Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka.
Assuming there are no setbacks for James Paxton following a back surgery, he’ll be added to the mix in May. Domingo German, who must serve the final 63 games of an 81-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy, will be part of the cavalry too.
Most of the main cogs from last year’s intimidating bullpen (fifth in strikeouts), including Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, and Zack Britton, are also back in 2020.
The Bombers should be bombing again
Despite numerous IL stints for key players in 2019, New York's lineup held up well and accounted for the second-most home runs in baseball (306).
The Yankees infield is filled with overachievers from last season, starting with shortstop Gleyber Torres (.871 OPS). Bargain free agent signing DJ LeMahieu (.327 average), scrap-heap pickup Gio Urshela (.314 average), and the promising Luke Voit (.842 OPS) round out this cast, with the comebacking Miguel Andujar ready to fill in. Gary Sanchez often makes up for his defensive miscues behind the plate with his bat (34 home runs).
Bombers fans are hoping for a full season from Aaron Judge (102 games in 2019) and Giancarlo Stanton (18 games) in the corners of the outfield. The reliable Brett Gardner will be patrolling center. If this lineup stays healthy, the Yankees have a good chance to top last year's 103-win performance.
Who can challenge in the AL?
New York's competition in the AL doesn't appear to be too strong in 2020. The Astros, who have the pall of a massive sign-stealing scandal hanging over them, appear to be the only serious threat, but not having Cole on their side will hurt.
The Rays will give the Yankees some tough games in the AL East, but a lot would have to go right for the upstart team from Tampa to win the division. The Twins have put together a nice roster, but the Yankees have had their number for a long time (16-2 in their last 18 postseason meetings with Minnesota). A World Series showdown with the Dodgers seems all but inevitable.