After signing Gerrit Cole to a nine-year contract, extending Aroldis Chapman for an additional season and re-signing Brett Gardner to a one-year deal, the Yankees enter the 2020 season as one of the best teams in baseball, if not the best. The pressure is riding high on Aaron Boone and the Yankees to bring a title to the Bronx for the first time since 2009, but there are more challenges that the Yankees may face during the season. Here is a list of my expectations for the 2020 Yankees.
Continue Dominance in AL East: The Yankees finished 54-22 against the AL East in 2019, dominating their way to a divisional title for the first time since 2012. Beating the Orioles 16 times in a row seems highly unlikely to happen, but it does not mean that they cannot continue to win at least 15 games against the rebuilding Baltimore team. Toronto is continuing to build upon their young core of players and may continue to be a threat to the Yankees. Toronto was the toughest team for the Yankees, as the Bombers won only 11 out of 19 games against the Blue Jays, who were considered to be the second worst team in the AL East. Tampa will continue to be tough competition, and Boston might be looking at having a new starting rotation and possibly even a new right fielder. This does not mean that Boston cannot be a tough team to beat. If the Yankees can manage to win at least 50 games against the AL East, they will more than likely march to another AL East title.
Limit the Injuries: Regardless of who should be blamed for all the injuries during the 2019 season, the Yankees should still aim to stay away from the IL. Obviously, not all injuries can be prevented, but there are some injuries that can be limited by doing some simple pre-game stretching and staying hydrated, which means no tears or cramping that could lead to further injuries. The Yankees spent more time on the IL than any other team in baseball last season, and still managed to win 103 games. If they can continue to stay healthy, they may see that number continue to rise.
Starters Must Give Length: With the addition of Gerrit Cole, the Yankees will now have the help of saving their bullpen. Cole has been known to go seven or eight innings in his starts, doing so very frequently. If the Yankees can get this to transition to James Paxton, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka more frequently, they will find themselves with a much stronger bullpen come October with many more options. Six innings is good, but seven or more innings is even better, and the Yankees must look for their starters to give them these innings, especially come playoff time. If not, they will find themselves overworking and exposing their bullpen, which always benefits the other team.
If the Yankees can meet these expectations in the regular season, they will find themselves in good position for the playoffs, which could lead to a 28th World Series title.