NEW YORK YANKEES
The Yankees went into last season with expectations through the roof but throughout the season they were riddled with injuries. Even with over 25 players hitting the IL last year they managed to persevere and win 103 games on there way to a division crown. Will they have to do the same in the upcoming season?
With less than twenty days until opening day, New York already has a few significant injuries to keep an eye on. Slugger Aaron Judge was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right rib, skipper Aaron Boone has suggested that he
"Wouldn't say that surgery is off the table".
Luis Severino will miss the entire season after getting Tommy John surgery while fellow starting pitcher James Paxton is expected to be back around May after receiving surgery in his back to repair a herniated disk.
And no, that's not it.
Giancarlo Stanton is expected to miss opening day with a strained right calf.
With all of those injuries what should we expect out of the 2020 Yankees? We should expect what we saw last season, the New York Yankees to get through any injury that gets in their way and come out on top. One thing that is going to help with that was the signing of arguably the best pitcher in the MLB, Gerrit Cole.
Gerrit Cole and the Yankees agreed to a 9 year/$324 million-dollar deal this off-season to make him the highest paid pitcher in baseball. Cole finished last season with a 2.50 ERA, 212.1 innings pitched, 0.895 WHIP and 326 strikeouts en route to a close second place finish for Cy Young. Cole's K/9 was an eye opening 13.8 in 33 games started. New York has themselves a legitimate ace. He will be paired with Masahiro Tanaka, JA Happ, and eventually James Paxton and Domingo German.
Even with the injuries going into the season we would have to think they are ready to get through anything. New York is deep this season and they could be a threat to win 100 games in 2020.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are coming off a season in which they won 96 games and won the wild card game, eventually losing to Houston in five games during the ALDS. In 2020 they had the best bullpen ERA in baseball at 3.66.
The bullpen is very talented with guys like Diego Castillo, who had a 3.14 ERA in 68.2 innings pitched, and Oliver Drake, who had a 3.21 ERA in 56 innings pitched last season. Tampa is built with one of the best bullpens in baseball, not only that but starting pitching as well.
Tampa Bay had one of the best rotations in the league during the 2019 season. Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton round out the top three along with Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough on the back end. Last seasons success should travel into the 2020 season with them, they are all around great in the pitching department.
In January the Rays pulled off a deal to land Cardinals outfielder Jose Martinez, trading top pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore in the deal. It was known that Tampa Bay was searching for outfield depth and have called about Martinez in the past. The outfield now rounds out to be Austin Meadows, Hunter Renfroe and Kevin Kiermaier along with Martinez.
Jose Martinez had a down year for his standards, he slashed .269/.340/.410 while hitting 10 home runs and registering a 0.3 WAR in 128 games. Martinez played below average defense last season but the Rays are hoping to get him playing time while also having the option to slot him into the DH position.
Tampa Bay may be the only legitimate team that has a chance to dethrone the Yankees in the race for the division crown. After making the postseason for the first time since 2013 they have their sights set on bigger things in 2020.
BOSTON RED SOX
After winning 84 games in 2019 the Red Sox shipped Mookie Betts and World Series hero David Price to the Dodgers in order to get under the luxury tax threshold. Originally, they had a three team deal in place involving the Twins sending Kenta Maeda to LA and pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol to Boston. For a few reasons Boston pulled out of the deal last minute, they were concerned about Graterol's medical history and GM Chaim Bloom thought he could be a starting pitcher, but he is more suitable as a reliever.
Boston and LA figured out a deal on there own with Boston sending David Price and Mookie Betts to LA in exchange for Alex Verdugo, top prospect Jeter Downs and catching prospect Connor Wong.
The starting rotation for Boston is a big question mark. Chris Sale has been diagnosed with a flexor strain, which often translates to Tommy John surgery. In this case Sale has avoided the surgery and will begin throwing within a week to see where he is at. Surgery is still possible in 2020.
This could be a big blow for the Sox, when Sale is healthy he is one of the most dominate pitcher in the MLB. In ten seasons Sale averages a 3.03 ERA, 1.035 WHIP, 251 strikeouts and 204 innings pitched. All that while posting an 11.1 K/9. His 5 year/$145 million-dollar deal is set to begin this season, becoming a free agent in 2025.
To help with the possibility of Sale missing time Boston signed veteran starting pitcher Collin McHugh who has been with Houston the past six season. He has dealt with injuries the past two season and they are hoping this is the year he can stay fully healthy, he started 8 games last season.
With Chris Sale most likely missing the beginning of 2020 the rotation round out to be Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez and Collin McHugh with the final spot being up in the air as of now.
It is going to be difficult for the Red Sox to contend with both New York and Tampa Bay for the division this season. In 2019 they finished 12 games behind the Rays and 19 behind the Yankees and now they are significantly less deep in all aspects of their team. They are bound to finish in the third place slot for the AL East unless everybody plays above expectations.