The postponement of opening day has allowed numerous teams to heal up, in particular the Yankees, who would have been without Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and James Paxton if the season had started on time. Counter-intuitively, though, the team that has seen its futures odds to win the World Series improve the most during the hiatus is NYY’s division rival, Tampa Bay. The Rays opened around +600 to win the AL East, but are now as short as +350. In theory, a shortened MLB season should increase the likelihood of unexpected outcomes.
Teams That May Benefit From a Shortened MLB Season
As mentioned above, the Yankees would benefit extremely from a shortened season that would result in a late start. Both of their stars, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, have had trouble surviving full seasons in their times with the Yankees. Judge has missed over 100 games over the past two seasons, while Stanton played just 18 games last season due to an assortment of injuries. Both were slated to miss the beginning of the season if it had started in April, but looked optimistic to return rather quickly.
James Paxton had back surgery in early February and was slated to muss roughly the first month or two of the season. Now, with a possible late start, Paxton should be able to see the field earlier on in the season. He’d be an extremely important piece for this Yankees squad that lost star pitcher Luis Severino to Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees would theoretically have three starters back and healthy for however long the season may end up being. The A.L East has been blown open since the Mookie Betts trade gutted the Red Sox, and the Yankees are the clear favorite to win this division. They would benefit greatly from a shortened MLB season.
The Nationals are just months removed from one of the greatest playoff runs ever. However, a couple of key losses like Anthony Rendon may result in a significant hit to their offensive side. As of now, there isn’t a clear division favorite for the NL East. The Braves sit as low as +1000, while the Nationals are as low as +1400. It’s more than likely going to be a two-team race and the Nationals pitching staff maybe be the decider for who wins.
Max Scherzer is starting to get up there in age, as he will turn 36 this summer. You’d think his extreme workload will eventually catch up with him. This could be that year. However, a shortened MLB season would allow Scherzer some must needed rest, as well as a downtick in innings from his usual 170+. The Nationals have their fair share of veterans and any team with a high age average would benefit greatly from fewer games. The Nationals are in a fairly open division and have a significant chance to make it to the playoffs again.
An Unprecedented Time
The MLB hasn’t had a shortened season in over 20 years and even that only lasted three weeks. COVID-19 has caused some extreme conditions in all aspects of life, but certainly, sports as a whole have been turned upside down. A shortened MLB season would theoretically help every team. Fewer games are less time for injury. Fewer games are less stressful on your pitchers. But the Yankees and Nationals really have the ability to fully change their season due to this possible shortening.
Main Image: Embed from Getty Images