Yankees Struggle Through First Major Road Trip of 2020 Season in Baseball-Reference and Strat-O-Matic Simulations
Had the novel coronavirus pandemic not interfered with the start of the 2020 regular season, the Yankees would have wrapped up their first major road trip of the season on Thursday.
After a four-game series in Tampa Bay, New York was originally scheduled to travel to Houston for an American League Championship Series rematch before a trip up to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers.
We'll never know for real how the Bombers would have fared in this stretch – the club's first road trip of more than six games on the schedule this year – but luckily we have daily simulations to predict those results for us.
In Baseball-Reference and Strat-O-Matic's daily simulations of this season, New York was rolling entering their first game of this span. These 10 games, however, turned out to be a different story. Check out the Yankees' record in both simulations:
New York was swept by Tampa Bay to start this stretch before taking one from Houston and another from Milwaukee.
Those four losses to the Rays make seven on the season after the Yankees were swept in their first meeting at the end of March.
Even after dropping all three to Tampa Bay earlier on, the Yankees still had a three game lead on their division foe entering this stretch. After these 10 games, however, the Bombers ended up three games back on the Rays in the division.
One highlight here was Gerrit Cole securing a victory in his return to Houston. The Yankees' ace earned his seventh win of the season with six strong innings and seven punch outs. The ace is well on his way to contending for an AL Cy Young Award in this simulation.
In the middle of New York's three-game set with Milwaukee, the club won its second and final game of the road trip courtesy of a quality start from Jonathan Loaisiga.
The Bombers are now – as of Thursday night – 27-23 through 50 games of this simulation.
The Bombers started the road trip with a win as Masahiro Tanaka was masterful, outlasting Tampa Bay's Blake Snell on the mound. Tanaka came just one out away from a complete game but was pulled with 8 2/3 frames under his belt.
New York lost its next five contests before closing out their series in Houston with a win courtesy of two home runs from Aaron Judge (his 10th and 11th since returning from injury). Judge did miss some time in Baseball-Reference's sim – and has yet to return in Strat-O-Matic due to the fracture in his right rib.
Speaking of injuries, James Paxton made his 2020 debut in Baseball-Reference's simulation on Thursday. One day after New York secured its third (and final) win of the road trip, Paxton started and was roughed up by Milwaukee. He gave up six runs through his first 1 2/3 innings in a blowout loss, surrendering a three-run home run to former National League MVP Christian Yelich before even recording one out in the bottom of the first.
Leading up to the 10-game road trip, the Yankees were 28-12 with an eight game lead in their division – they had the best winning percentage in all of baseball. After the road trip, New York is 31-19 as of Thursday, clinging to a slim three-game lead ahead of the surging Rays.
What's interesting is how similar the results ended up being during this brief window of two completely separate simulations. Up to this point both simulation universes had the Bombers ahead in the AL East, but different players were leading the way.
Mike Tauchman was ranked third in the league in WAR entering this stretch within Baseball-Reference's sim while Brett Gardner was having the best season of his career by far on Strat-O-Matic.
Here, both versions of the Yankees struggled across the board.
For reference, the Yankees were 33-17 through 50 games a year ago and went on to win 70 more contests the rest of the way.
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