Yankees, Dodgers are co-favorites to win 2020 World Series; but which team is under more pressure?


Major League Baseball, like so many other sports, is currently suspended because of the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic. MLB and the players association (MLBPA), though, are determined to have a 2020 season of some kind. The two sides are currently in negotiations over a proposal to restart the season in early July.

Details about the season are beginning to take shape, and some of the possible changes (an abbreviated 82-game regular season, universal designated hitter, expanded rosters, 14-team postseason) could help or hurt some teams.

But, for two teams, no matter how the season ultimately looks, the pressure will still be felt. The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees both spent their offseasons bolstering their win-now rosters, and they want to be hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy — even if that happens in November on a neutral-site fied.

The two big-market clubs will enter the 2020 season with a ‘World Series or bust’ mentality. But, which team has more pressure to bring home a title? Let’s take a look.

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Who’s under more pressure in 2020?
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The Dodgers’ case

The Dodgers won’t just head into a 2020 season with pressure to win a championship, but the club will also aim to avenge their last two World Series losses. This offseason, MLB’s investigations determined that the 2017 Houston Astros and the 2018 Boston Red Sox — the two clubs the Dodgers lost to in the Fall Classic — participated in illegal sign-stealing activities throughout their respective championship seasons.

Cody Bellinger, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner were among those who publicly shared their disdain for electronic sign-stealing, and you have to think that both scandals will be on Dodger players’ minds for a long time — probably until they’ve gone ahead and achieved their goal of winning a World Series. 

One big move that could certainly help the club do so is their trade for superstar outfielder Mookie Betts. After seven straight National League West titles and two straight NL pennants without any rings, the Dodgers’ sudden loss in the 2019 playoffs to eventual champion Washington Nationals brought an even larger sense of urgency, and the Betts get proves the club is ready and committed to winning in 2020.

The Dodgers’ everyday lineup is impressive; it’s packed with talented players, many of whom have positional flexibility. And on top of that, the Dodgers continue to develop players within their organization, like Gavin Lux and Dustin May. As far as the pitching situation goes for L.A., there are some durability issues with their rotation, but overall, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and David Price (acquired in Betts trade) should lead the way as one of the top rotations in the league

The Yankees’ case

Like the Dodgers, the Yankees also made a big offseason move that screamed ‘World Series or bust’ with their record-breaking deal for Gerrit Cole. Not only was Cole a game-changer for the Yankees, he was the club’s ‘white whale.’ Like the Dodgers’ Betts acquisition, the objective of the Yankees’ Cole acquisition is the same, to act as a finishing piece for a title quest. When asked about the mounting pressure for the Bronx Bombers to bring home a championship, Cole declared pressure as a ‘privilege‘ in his introductory press conference. 

The Yankees also could be out for revenge against the clubs involved in sign-stealing scandals. New York lost to Houston in the 2017 ALCS and lost to Boston in the 2018 ALDS.

But, thankfully for the Yankees, their addition of Cole to their rotation will make the loss of Luis Severino due to Tommy John surgery sting a little less. Cole, who is entering the first season of a nine-year pact, will join Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ as the top four in the New York rotation.

The Yankees should be able to replicate the powerful offense and lights-out bullpen from the last few years. The only thing left on their checklist is a deeper run in the postseason.

The verdict

There’s obvious and mounting pressure on both clubs to win a World Series. The Yankees and Dodgers are currently considered World Series co-favorites with William Hill Sportsbook giving both teams 3/1 odds to win it all. And neither fanbase wants to wait another year — even if the 2020 title comes in an abbreviated and unique season.

The Yankees last World Series appearance and win came 11 years ago, in 2009. For New York’s standards, that championship drought might as well be 100 years. Entering the 2020 season with the majority of their stars in their prime, this team has a tremendous chance to take home a championship.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have been starved of a championship for three decades. L.A. has made it to the postseason nine times in the last 14 years, but finished empty-handed each time. 

With the longer drought, recent Fall Classic flops and Betts’ contract situation, it’s the Dodgers who have more pressure than the Yankees or any other team in baseball in 2020. If they get to the World Series again this year, the third time in four years has to be the charm.

But both teams believe it’s finally their year, even in an atypical season. So maybe we’ll have this conversation again if and when a World Series is played and they’re the last two teams standing.





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