Report: Yankees vs. Nationals to Headline MLB Opening Day

Max Goodman

With this Opening Day matchup, Major League Baseball's return surely won't disappoint.

If the novel coronavirus pandemic cooperates, MLB's shortened season will begin on July 23 with the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals hosting the New York Yankees, according to a report from Andrew Marchand and Joel Sherman of the New York Post. 

That means just under four months after the 2020 regular season was supposed to begin, the baseball world will be treated with a Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole matchup in the nation's capital.

After months of negotiations, and questions regarding MLB's return amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to play a 60-game season on Tuesday. 

According to The Post's report, July 23 will be the first day of the truncated campaign, but won't feature a full slate of games. New York facing off with the defending champs will likely be played at Nationals Park in prime time on that Thursday.

Regardless of the ball clubs that end up opening their seasons on July 23, fans have plenty to look forward to with this matchup. Not only will Cole likely make his much-anticipated debut in a Yankees uniform, but he'll toe the rubber against three-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer. 

Sound familiar? The two aces faced off in Game 1 of the World Series last fall, before Cole departed in free agency and signed with New York on a record deal. Scherzer came out on top to open the Fall Classic, earning the win by tossing five innings of two-run ball. 

Cole was handed the loss, tagged with five runs over seven frames. It was his first losing decision in 25 starts, dating back to May 22 of the regular season. 

Before anyone can take the field next month, keeping all personnel healthy is of the upmost importance. With an influx of COVID-19 cases at big-league facilities in Florida and Arizona, Major League Baseball elected to close down spring complexes in those states. 

All 30 big-league clubs will partake in a second round of Spring Training, with players set to report by July 1. 

While the Yankees are not among the teams with players that have received positive coronavirus diagnoses in recent days, four employees at the Bombers' Spring Training home in Tampa reportedly tested positive for the virus

The Yankees will prepare for this summer's 60-game campaign with workouts at Yankee Stadium in New York rather than George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. 

Had the coronavirus never occurred, the Yankees would have opened its season with Cole on the mound in Baltimore back on March 26. The Nationals would have faced the division-rival New York Mets the same afternoon, with Scherzer starting against two-time defending NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.

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For more from Max Goodman, follow him on Twitter @MaxTGoodman. Follow ITP on Twitter @SI_Yankees and Facebook @SIYankees

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