4 Yankees under most pressure in 2020 MLB playoffs
By Adam Weinrib
The Yankees are under a lot of pressure headed into the 2020 MLB playoffs. These four, in particular.
OK. Enough “rebuild” and enough “reload” for the New York Yankees.
If it weren’t already clear based on the way they’ve supplemented this roster over the past several offseasons, the Yankees are done being content with admitting a wave of Baby Bombers to the big league ranks. They’re also sick of entering the postseason with high expectations, mixed with the knowledge that there could be a potential bugaboo waiting in the wings, like the Astros or Red Sox, two favorites who put them in their place from 2017-2019.
Entering the 2020 season, before the whole world was flipped upside down, the Yankees were widely expected to be the American League favorites, and though they won’t be the league’s top seed, the baseball world has to admit that nobody wants to face this team in October.
If the team wants to come out on top this time around in a postseason unlike any other, they can no longer be their own worst enemy. These four Yankees are facing the lion’s share of the pressure this time around, all for very different reasons.
4. Gerrit Cole
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is facing an entirely different level of expectations.
Yes, Gerrit Cole has been in the postseason before. But he hasn’t been the sole ace of a playoff-bound team since his early days with the otherwise-undermanned Pittsburgh Pirates. Last season, though he was likely the best arm in the Astros rotation, much of the pressure was on Justin Verlander.
This time around, he isn’t just Gerrit Cole, superior righty. He’s the $324 million man (well, pro-rated), and fair or not, he’s going to be judged accordingly.
You watched the rapid mood swings in the fan base as he struggled slightly on the road against Atlanta, or unraveled following an error in Baltimore. Even with plenty of time left on the clock in both 2020 and on his mega-deal, questions surrounded every pitch he threw until the doubleheader against Baltimore solidified things.
Was it fair and just? Absolutely not! But is it going to happen in October? Yeah, triply so, at the very least.
Until Cole delivers a ring, there’s going to be pressure squarely on his shoulders in every postseason series he leads off. Though it would be unreasonable to draw conclusions, good or bad, from a small sample size, his Yankee reputation is absolutely going to be dictated by these few weeks at the tail end of a grueling regular season. Over and over again.