NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The upcoming New York Yankees season, scheduled to start in less than two weeks, will be unlike any we’ve ever seen. The stands will be empty of fans. Players will be limited in their interactions, with physical contact only allowed within the bounds of the actual game. MLB’s rules and guidelines for the COVID-19 season are extensive, and those who don’t abide will be punished.
Playing 60 games, as opposed to the typical 162, also changes how teams approach the game and how luck can affect the outcome. As CBS2 sports anchor Steve Overmyer points out, “because we’re playing 60 games in 66 days, you’re not going to have the same five-day rest. You’re going to start, maybe, six-man rotations. Maybe you’re going to start bullpen guys for a few games here and there.”
That’s just one example. There are many others. The Yankees, who are still a top contender, should be able to adapt.
“I think the Yankees were always going to be the favorites to win the World Series,” says Overmyer. “Maybe now they’re just not as much of a favorite, because there are so many variables to the season that would possibly lead them astray… injuries. Or somebody gets COVID-19, they could be out for a week, two weeks, and that’s half the season, or more or less. So every team obviously is playing under those parameters. But I still think the Yankees are the class of the majors.”
The Yankees rose above injuries last season to post 103 wins. There’s no reason to think they can’t do it again.
“They have an amazing starting rotation, and their lineup is better than anybody’s,” says Overmyer. “They hit 306 home runs last year, just one shy of the Major League record that was set by the Twins this last year as well. And they did that pretty much without Stanton and Judge for a lot of those games. So you’re going to be seeing the powerful offensive output by the Yankees this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they hit a 35-40 win mark if they play all 60 games.”
Given the scheduling — teams play only within their own division and the opposing regional division — winning enough games to make the postseason has become a little more difficult for the Yankees.
“The best division in the National League is the East,” according to Overmyer. “The best division of the American League is the East. The Yankees and the Mets are going to have a treacherous schedule of the best teams in all the baseball. It’s going to hurt both of them, because they are going to be measured up against teams like the Milwaukee Brewers, who will be playing much inferior talent the majority of games. That just means that both the Mets and the Yankees have to play at their highest level against the worst teams to make sure that those games are wins. Every game is going to count in what is supposed to be a shortened season.”