Yankees vs Nationals

MLB Opening Night: Yankees vs Nationals

Written by on July 21, 2020

The 2020 Major League Baseball season will be like no other in history with the coronavirus still raging across the United States and the season cut down to 60 games. It all begins Thursday night from Washington, D.C., as the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals host the New York Yankees.

How to Bet Yankees at Nationals MLB Odds & TV Info

  • When: Thursday, 7 PM ET
  • Where: Nationals Park, Washington, DC
  • Probable pitchers (away/home):  Gerrit Cole/Max Scherzer
  • TV: MLB Extra Innings
  • Stream: MLB.tv, ESPN+
  • Radio: http://mlb.mlb.com/media/player/mpa/?c_id=mlb
  • Opening MLB Lines: Yankees -135Nationals +125 (total 7.5)

Why Bet on Yankees?

The Yankees are favored to win the AL pennant this season even though they lost No. 2 starting pitcher Luis Severino to season-ending Tommy John surgery a few months ago. The Yankees played 21 of their 31 scheduled Grapefruit League games in Florida, going 11-8-2 before spring training was shut down on March 12. They finished their Grapefruit League action with a winning record for the fourth straight season (Major League-best 24-9-1 mark in 2017, 18-13-1 in 2018 and 17-10-4 in 2019).

If the season had started on time, sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton would not have been available. Judge didn’t play this spring because of a stress fracture in his rib cage but homered twice Sunday in an exhibition vs. the Mets. Stanton went yard too. DJ LeMahieu played three innings at second base Sunday. LeMahieu missed the first couple weeks of summer camp workouts following a positive test for COVID-19.

It’s big ticket free agent signing Gerrit Cole on the mound – he pitched twice in the 2019 World Series vs. Washington while a member of the Astros. Cole was utterly dominant last year and that earned him a record-breaking $324 million contract this winter.

Cole, 29, was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 326 strikeouts against 48 walks in 212 1/3 innings in 2019. He was also 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 36 2/3 postseason innings. He led the majors in strikeouts, ERA+ and strikeout rate, and the AL in ERA and FIP, among other categories. He finished second to former teammate Justin Verlander in AL Cy Young Award balloting.

Not only is Cole’s deal the richest ever signed by a pitcher but his $36 million average annual value is the highest in baseball history, topping Mike Trout ($35.5 million). New York is believed to have outbid the Angels and Dodgers for Cole’s services. The Yankees made Cole their first-round selection (28th overall) in the 2008 MLB Draft, only to see him honor his commitment to UCLA.

“Obviously when you are talking about a player at the level of Gerrit Cole, in a lot of ways, that’s a game-changing type talent,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Cole struck out nine batters over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in an intrasquad game Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Cole scattered four hits and one walk across the 84-pitch outing. The 29-year-old should be stretched out to around 100 pitches.

Why Bet on Nationals?

The Nationals lost all three home games of last year’s World Series yet still won the first title in franchise history thanks to winning all four games in Houston. Normally, the Nats would raise their championship banner and give out the World Series rings before the home opener, but GM Mike Rizzo is putting those on hold while there are no fans in attendance.

“I think as far as raising the banner and the distribution of rings, we’re going to wait for our fanbase to be involved to do those types of things,” Rizzo said. “Those are once-in-a-lifetime things to do and our fanbase is such a big factor in helping us win that thing. They earned it, they deserve to be involved in it and we’re going to wait for them to do it.”

The Nats did have a virtual ring ceremony in May. In a cool move Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He’s the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and arguably the nation’s leader in the coronavirus.

Scherzer is on the mound, and of course he’s a three-time Cy Young Award winner and among the NL favorites for this season at Mybookie.  Scherzer posted a 2.92 ERA and 243/33 K/BB ratio over 172 1/3 innings in 2019, along with a 2.40 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 30 postseason frames. Scherzer had a start during the playoffs pushed back due to a neck issue and also battled a back/shoulder problem prior to that but he’s healthy now.

Scherzer needs to be better than he was Saturday in a scrimmage, though, as he gave up seven runs over five innings in his start against the Phillies. Scherzer allowed a pair of three-run homers early, but he got better as the night went along and retired nine of 10 to finish up.

“I got beat around a little bit,” he said. “… but that’s good. Have to work out of the stretch, have to make pitches in those type of situations. “That’s what happens in the regular season. It’s not always just going through lineups and everything’s easy.”

A fly-ball pitcher, Scherzer allowed two homers in just three games last season, including twice down the stretch in September. He has given up two or more long shots in 58 contests over his career.

“Max is going to come out Opening Day and be fired up and compete. Today was no different,” said manager Dave Martinez. “He likes to go through innings in Spring Training where he struggles and he’s got to dig deep. We know that. I think he’s going to be ready. He said he felt really good after he came out, which was nice.”

This is the fourth time that Scherzer will start Opening Day for Washington. According to FanGraphs.com, Scherzer led all Major League Baseball pitchers in Fielding Independent Pitching (2.45) and ranked second in Wins Above Replacement (6.5) last year. According to Statcast, Scherzer throws: Four Seamer (48.2%), Slider (20.6%), Changeup (14.5%), Curve (8.7%), Cutter (7.9%).

Scherzer and Zack Greinke are the only pitchers in MLB to record at least 10 wins in every season dating to 2010. Scherzer’s streak of eight 200+ strikeout seasons is second in MLB history behind Hall of Famer Tom Seaver (9, 1968-76). Scherzer has crossed the 250-strikeout mark for five consecutive years (2014-18). In doing so, he became the fourth pitcher in MLB history to compile four consecutive seasons or more with 250+ strikeouts. He joined Randy Johnson (1997-2002), Ferguson Jenkins (1968-71) and Pedro Martinez (1997-2000), all Hall of Famers.

Game Trends

  • Yankees are 11-5 in their last 16 Thursday games.
  • Yankees are 3-7 in their last 10 during game 1 of a series.
  • Yankees are 3-7 in their last 10 road games.
  • Nationals are 6-2 in their last 8 games as an underdog.
  • Nationals are 9-3 in their last 12 interleague games.
  • Nationals are 9-3 in their last 12 home games vs. a right-handed starter.
  • Under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Washington.
  • Under is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings.
Expert PredictionNationals 4, Yankees 3