The New York Yankees released the Opening Day lineup against the Washington Nationals and DJ LeMahieu is nowhere to be found.
The first lineup of the 2020 MLB season is out, and it belongs to the New York Yankees. The Yankees and reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals will kick things off as the first game of the 2020 season.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 23, 2020
The Yankees lineup features (and is missing) some eye-catching names and positions. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who was an incredible force for the Yankees last year, recently returned to the team after recovering from COVID-19.
However, it looks like manager Aaron Boone doesn’t feel comfortable starting him against the Nats, so he’s been left out of the lineup. In his stead, the Yankees are rolling with an interesting choice of Tyler Wade at second, who will be batting ninth. Wade isn’t known for his hitting but is one of the fastest players in the league and is a slick defender.
LeMahieu ended up becoming the Yankees’ lead-off hitter as the 2019 season progressed. Switch-hitting centerfielder Aaron Hicks will fill that role on Thursday night. Speaking of Hicks, it looks like he’s going to become the first player in MLB history to undergo Tommy John surgery and not miss a single game.
The other surprise in the lineup is left fielder Brett Gardner batting fifth between sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez. It’s typically odd to see Gardner anywhere in the lineup that isn’t first, eighth, or ninth.
The team likely wanted to balance out a righty-heavy lineup. In any event, it’ll be interesting to see how the 36-year-old Gardner, who displayed some power last season by clubbing a career-high 28 home runs, will do in that spot.
A fun fact about Gardner: According to the Yankees PR Department, he’ll now be tied with Bernie Williams for fourth-most career starts in the outfield in franchise history with 11. An impressive 11 for No. 11.
OF Brett Gardner is slated to make his 11th Opening Day start in the outfield tonight. His 10 Opening Day starts in the outfield are tied for the fourth-most in Yankees history (Mickey Mantle-16, Babe Ruth-13, Bernie Williams-11).
— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) July 23, 2020
It’ll be a pitching rematch of Game 1 of the 2019 World Series: Gerrit Cole vs. Max Scherzer. Cole will be making his long-awaited debut in pinstripes, hungry for a championship and, likely, a Cy Young Award.
A low-scoring game should be expected since two of the most dominant pitchers on the planet are taking the mound, but the Yankees have the advantage, primarily because of the hit the Nationals’ lineup took earlier today.
Young phenom outfielder Juan Soto was diagnosed with COVID-19 and won’t be in the lineup.
This is a great way to kick off arguably the strangest season in MLB history, and it’ll be particularly exciting to see Cole and Scherzer at work.
The Yankees will be taking on the Nationals at 7:08 p.m. ET.