I think that we can all agree that 2020 has not been a normal year. Even just focusing on the diamond, things have been strange. So on the last day of the year, here is a list of 20 weird New York Yankees’ things from 2020.
1. March 12
All spring training games get canceled as of 4 p.m. on this day. The Yankees’ final game is a 6-3 victory over the defending-champion Washington Nationals. Tyler Wade homered.
Opening Day is pushed back two weeks. Two measly weeks.
2. March 16
It is announced that Opening Day would not be until at least mid-May. Manfred said everyone was still hoping to play a full schedule. How naive.
3. March 12-June 23
Lots of rich people fighting.
4. July 23
Opening Day 2020. Gerrit Cole makes his official Yankees debut with no fans in the stands, going 5.0 innings allowing only one run while striking out five. He gets a complete game since the game is called due to rain.
Yankees/Philadelphia Phillies home-and-home series get postponed because the Miami Marlins had an outbreak of 20 cases of COVID-19 and the Phillies had just played them. The Yankees would go on to play Baltimore twice instead. Fauci says this could put the season in danger.
6. August 8
First seven-inning double-header for the Yankees. They would split the two games at the Trop, with their win in the first game being one of only two wins against the Rays during the regular season.
7. August 9-16
In the span of eight days, the Yankees lose Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and DJ LeMahieu to injuries. The Yankees would go 1-7 with LeMahieu on the shelf, including a seven-game losing streak.
8. August 21-23
The first Subway Series of the season is postponed because a player and a staff member on the New York Mets tested positive.
9. September 5
Cole struggles for a third consecutive start, including having his 20-game regular-season win streak snapped. Yankees fans called for him to be DFA’d.
10. September 7-8
You can add Buffalo to the list of places the Yankees should never want to play. The city joins a distinguished group along with Oakland and St. Petersburg. The Yankees lose the first two games of the series, making them 5-15 in their last 20 games. We have hit rock bottom.
11. September 15-17
The Yankees sweep the Toronto Blue Jays at home, increasing their winning streak to seven games. The score 43 runs over the three games with 19 home runs, a new record. They even slug five homers during the fourth inning of the finale. Ironically, that was their lowest-scoring game of the series.
The first five home run inning in New York Yankees history! That ties a Major League Baseball record!
Within the span of four days, Erik Kratz pitches twice: one inning in a 10-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox and another inning in a 14-1 loss to the Blue Jays. He allowed one run in each outing, but still ended up with a better ERA than Brooks Kriske, Albert Abreu, and 2019 ALDS Game 2 MVP Tyler Lyons. He also ended up with a very solid WHIP of 1.00. But what’s even more impressive is that he wasn’t just fastball, fastball, fastball. Check out his pitch mix from his two appearances:
Luke Voit ends the season leading the entire league in home runs with 22. Why is this weird? Well, he played most of the season dealing with “foot stuff”, or what is known in the medical world as plantar fasciitis. Yes, the same plantar fasciitis that made anyone who never watched Jacoby Ellsbury play think he was some fictional character who was made up to give children nightmares.
15. September 27
Clint Frazier ends the season with the highest outs above average (OAA) on the team at +2. Contrast that with the -12 mark he put up in 2019 and he was easily one of the most improved players on the team. Is it weird that he improved on defense? Not really, but it was a little surprising to see how far he came.
16. September 30, October 7
These were the dates of Masahiro Tanaka’s two playoff starts. Coming into this year, he owned a 1.76 ERA in eight starts in the postseason. So it was definitely uncharacteristic of him to struggle in October. But maybe just chalk it up to a weird 2020 season. To be fair, he did have to pitch Game 2 of the Wild Card Series in a hurricane.
The infamous ALDS Game 2 pitching snafu (yes I meant for that to rhyme). Was it the worst idea ever? Not really. But it was definitely not executed well. Deivi Garcia was only allowed to go one inning before J.A. Happ came in and allowed four runs in less than three innings. Not something you see every day, especially when you’re up 1-0 in the series.
18. October 8
Jordan Montgomery pitches four innings of one-run ball to help the Yankees extend their season. Given that Twitter and Facebook are sanctuaries for rational comments and opinions, surely the team stood no chance with him on the mound and the series was all but over. Yet Monty, who had a 5.11 ERA in the regular season, came out and, as Trevor Bauer would say, “shoved.”
Jordan Montgomery has all the makings of a dependable pitcher for the Yankees and his 5.11 ERA in 2020 (3.86 Expected ERA though) doesn’t represent him.