The NBA released the schedule for its Orlando restart Friday night and MLB will inevitably do the same in the coming days. While it’s unclear how far along MLB is in that process (one would wager not very considering the league didn’t announce its season until Tuesday), Joel Sherman and Andrew Marchand of the New York Post hear we have a good one in store for Opening Day with the New York Yankees, considered World Series favorites by many, traveling to D.C. for a season-opening series against the reigning champion Washington Nationals.
Barring injury, it looks like we’ll see Gerrit Cole—the recent recipient of a market-setting, nine-year, $324-million contract—opposed by three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer when play begins on July 23. Due to the abbreviated nature of Spring Training 2.0, it’s unlikely either starter will last more than a handful of innings, but it’s still an enticing way to kick off MLB’s much-anticipated 2020 campaign. The ace right-handers went toe to toe in last year’s Fall Classic, matching up in Game 1 of the 2020 World Series. A rematch was slated for Game 5 but Scherzer’s scheduled appearance was pushed back due to a lingering back injury (Mad Max would return for the deciding Game 7).
Cole, at that time, was a member of the Houston Astros, who eliminated his current squad on a series-clinching and, in retrospect, highly controversial, walk-off blast by All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve. The Yankees paid top dollar for Cole in free agency in hopes that last year’s AL Cy Young runner-up would end New York’s 11-year title drought. The Bombers are still prohibitive AL favorites but the calculus has changed with the coronavirus necessitating an unprecedented 60-game slate.
The Yankees and Nationals aren’t frequent opponents—they haven’t met since June of 2018—but with the league aiming to keep travel at a minimum amid COVID-19, teams will only face divisional foes as well as clubs from their American or National League counterpart. Of course, all these plans are tentative and could easily go up in smoke, particularly with coronavirus cases on the rise in highly-populated states like Florida, California and Texas. But if MLB is cleared for liftoff as we all hope, you can’t get much better than Cole versus Scherzer on Opening Day.