Mother Nature pushed back Opening Day, meaning the New York Yankees will start the 2022 MLB season Friday against the Boston Red Sox.
Baseball is coming. Fans will just have to wait a bit longer.
Interestingly enough, the wait is not the only thing longer in The Bronx this year. So are the New York Yankees odds to win another championship.
In most years, New York Yankees odds are shorter than the players’ facial hair.
The Bronx Bombers are typically among the betting favorites to win the Fall Classic. With 40 American League pennants and 27 World Series championships, it’s easy to understand why.
Most New Jersey sportsbooks give the Yanks 13-to-1 odds to win in October. Those are the longest NY Yankees odds since 2017.
Here are five reasons why the Yankees might be a smart play in the MLB futures market this season.
1. New York Yankees odds boosted by starting pitching
Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver once said: “Momentum is tomorrow’s starting pitcher.” No matter how much the game of baseball has changed (and is changing), Weaver’s adage still applies.
The Yankees have a bonafide ace in Gerrit Cole. The big righty starts another season as the odds-on favorite (+425) to win the AL Cy Young award.
The No. 2 man in the rotation is Luis Severino. The 28-year-old only pitched in four games out of the bullpen in 2021 after coming off Tommy John surgery in 2019.
Lefty Jordan Montgomery tossed 157.1 innings last season with a 3.83 ERA. Jameson Taillon and Domingo German (opening the season on the DL) round out the starting five.
“Nasty” Nestor Cortez was an unexpected bright spot for the Yanks in 2021. Cortez will pitch significant innings this year, including holding down the fifth spot until German is activated.
2. Bombers’ Big Bats
The Yankees have one of baseball’s scariest lineups for opposing pitchers. At least when the team is healthy and hitters are performing to the back of their baseball cards.
The Yanks’ everyday lineup can hit for power, average, contact and situations. They can also strike out and go cold for long stretches of time.
The real challenge for this (somewhat) older roster is availability and consistency. If manager Aaron Boone can reliably pencil in the same group for 142 to 150 games this year, the Yanks will be dangerous.
Take a look at the expected lineup from two to eight:
- Aaron Judge (RF)
- Anthony Rizzo (1B)
- Giancarlo Stanton (DH)
- DJ LeMahieu (2B)
- Joey Gallo (LF)
- Aaron Hicks (CF)
- Gleyber Torres (SS)
Maybe it’s not 1927 Murder’s Row. But the career stats of those guys make for a lineup as impressive as any in MLB.
3. From foe to friend
Josh Donaldson is a perennial thorn in the Yankees’ side. With his bat and his mouth, the 2015 AL MVP has made a career taking big swings against the Yanks.
Now, he’s the leadoff man in The Bronx.
Donaldson, 36, had a down year with the Minnesota Twins in 2021. His .247 AVG last season was well below his career .269 average.
However, his OBP and OPS were both up. And, he still hit 26 dingers with 72 RBIs in 135 games.
During stints with the Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays and Twins, Donaldson has had success hitting in Yankee Stadium.
The Yanks are simply asking the two-time Silver Slugger award winner to be a table-setter.
Donaldson is not the straw that stirs the drink. But he will need to be a key ingredient this season if the New York Yankees odds are going to improve.
4. No respect in New York Yankees odds
With a $232 million payroll, no one is going to buy the Yankees as underdogs.
Yet, it’s still weird that some experts are picking the NYY to finish third or fourth in the AL East.
The Blue Jays (+165) are favorites to win the division at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Yanks are next at +200.
There are baseball analysts picking the Tampa Bay Rays (+330) and Red Sox (+550) to finish ahead of the Yankees.
The dismissiveness of the Yankees is similar to 2017 when “the experts” predicted them to miss the playoffs. The Yankees lost Game 7 of the ALCS to the eventual World Series winner.
It also feels a little like 1996.
The Yankees started that season as a joke on the back pages of NY tabloid papers. They ended it with a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.
5. Bullpen bullies at E. 161st St. and River Ave.
For decades the Yankees had a simple formula to win. It went like this: get a lead and give it to the bullpen.
If the Yanks were ahead in the ninth, it was nighty-night time for the other team.
For all the superstars who have ever worn the Pinstripes, Mariano Rivera was in a league of his own. The unquestioned greatest closer in the history of baseball was a real-life cheat code.
And while No. 42 is long retired, the Yankees have never really moved off the tried-and-true formula of relying on the pen.
Aroldis Chapman has been a terrific closer in NY the last five seasons. Not quite Mo-level terrific, but better than most.
A mix of flamethrowers and crafty pitchers, the Yankees have one of the best bullpens in the bigs. Chad Green, Jonathan Loáisiga, Wandy Peralta and Michael King are all going to be counted in 2022.