Baseball is finally back folks! 🙌 Today is Opening Day of the regular season for Major League Baseball. Being a native New Yorker, I will be biased and mainly following the progress of my local teams for the next 162 games, and hopefully beyond. There are many storylines to follow as the season begins as both New York clubs have made changes to bolster their respective teams in the off-season. Will the high-powered Yankees improve on last season’s playoff letdown with the addition of oft-injured all-star hitter Troy Tulowitski, among others, to supplement their power duo behemoths Giancarlo Stanton & Aaron Judge? Will the Mets be able to make it back to the playoffs with the addition of veteran hitter (and former Yankee star) Robinson Cano and 24 yr old star closer (with an MLB-best 57 saves in 2018) Edwin Diaz?
The Yankees will be at home in the Bronx to host the lowly Baltimore Orioles, with their 2nd best pitcher Masahiro Tanaka on the mound (#1 Yankee starter Luis Severino starts the season on the disabled list until May with a rotator cuff injury). And my boys in Orange & Blue, the NY Mets will start the season in Washington DC to play a 3 game series against the Nationals. This game in particular should be one to watch as it features 2 of the best pitchers in baseball (and winners of the last 3 NL Cy Youngs): 2018 National League Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom of the Mets vs. Max Scherzer (’16 & ’17 NL Cy Young winner) for the Nationals. This has only happened twice before in the history of Major League Baseball where the top 2 Cy Young award vote-getters match up on opening day of the following season. And it is happening twice again today with deGrom vs. Scherzer in the National League and Blake Snell (2018 AL Cy Young winner) of the Tampa Bay Rays vs. runner-up Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros in the American League. The last time this happened was 40 years ago on opening day of the 1979 baseball season. The Cy Young award is baseball’s highest honor for pitchers, given out after the end of each season to give recognition to the best in the game. deGrom easily won the award in 2018 with an MLB-best 1.70 earned run average, while Scherzer was no slouch as runner up with a record of 18-7 with a 2.53 era. Of course, being the Met fan that I am, I’m hoping that Scherzer has an uncharacteristic off-day and the Mets crush every ball that he hurls at them. The more likely scenario for this game is that scoring will be at a premium and this will be one of those proverbial “pitchers’ duels” with these 2 superstars toeing the rubber today. And deGrom should be able to focus a bit better coming into opening day, fresh off his brand new five-year, $137.5 million extension with the Mets. This new deal makes him the highest paid athlete in New York based on average annual salary. deGrom had publicly stated that he wanted to complete contract talks before the start of the season to eliminate that distraction, so kudos to the Mets and new GM Brodie Van Wagenen for making that happen. Prediction: Mets win 3-1. Let’s play ball! 🥎🥎🥎
**Stats & info from MLB.com and the MLB At Bat mobile app