Who Will Benefit from the MLB Layoff as the Season Starts?


The Major League Baseball season that begins on Thursday will look an entire lot completely different from the one groups deliberate for in spring coaching. Back then, in March, groups had been making ready for enterprise as typical: a 162-game schedule, followers in the stands, the pitcher hitting in National League parks — and in the event you had been signed to play, you needed to play.

The coronavirus had different concepts, after all. Now, after months of failed negotiations between the league and the gamers’ union to comply with phrases of a brand new season, groups will play simply 60 video games every, with out followers (at the very least initially), with a common designated hitter and with a number of acquainted names opting out of the season.

All these elements will affect every workforce in another way — in good and dangerous methods. Here’s a take a look at the upside and draw back of a delayed, shortened season for all 30.

American League East

Upside: At least it’s going to all be over shortly for the Orioles, who misplaced 223 video games the final two seasons.

Downside: The 1939 St. Louis Browns had a .279 successful proportion, the worst in the historical past of this franchise. The Orioles want 17 wins this yr to keep away from a brand new low. Can they do it whereas going through solely the punishing Eastern division groups in the American and National Leagues?

Upside: Hooray for social distancing! The gamers get a respite from the cramped Fenway clubhouse this season, lockering in third-level luxury suites, two to a room.

Downside: No venue in sports combines gritty authenticity with charming eccentricity like Fenway. Millions of fans will miss out on that experience this season, and while the intimacy with fans at the park is not always comfortable for players, chances are they will miss it, too.

Upside: The Yankees were battered by injuries when they shuttered spring training in mid-March, and now Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and James Paxton should be ready.

Downside: Hard-throwing starter Michael Kopech, who underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2018 after just four games in the majors, opted out of the 2020 season.

Downside: After a roster purge and a last-place finish, the Mariners, who have not made the playoffs since 2001, could have used a full schedule this year to learn more about which players could be long-term answers.

Upside: The veteran outfielder Shin-Soo Choo set a powerful example during the pandemic by giving $1,000 to every Rangers minor leaguer (around $200,000 in all).

Downside: The Rangers, who have furloughed more than 10 percent of their full-time employees, will finally open Globe Life Field on July 24 against Colorado — with the stands empty. You might call that raining on their parade, but the new park has a retractable roof.

National League East

Upside: Kudos to Freddie Freeman, the star first baseman, for sharing his experience with Covid-19 and sending a powerful message to his fellow players of how serious the virus can be. “I said a little prayer that night because I’ve never been that hot before,” Freeman told reporters, referring to the worst moment of his illness. “My body was really, really hot, so I said, ‘Please don’t take me.’ I wasn’t ready.”

Downside: Freeman has returned, but his experience helped convince the veteran outfielder Nick Markakis to opt out and avoid the risk. Also, starter Cole Hamels recently aggravated the triceps injury that bothered him in spring training and does not seem close to returning.

Upside: Playing home games before empty seats will be nothing new for the Marlins, who have had the lowest attendance in the National League in 13 of the last 14 seasons.

Downside: The Marlins — with chief executive Derek Jeter and Manager Don Mattingly — finish their schedule with a three-game series in the Bronx from Sept. 25 to 27. It would be a perfect setting for the fans to salute two former Yankee captains (if Jeter travels), but barring a change in policy, the stands will be empty.

Upside: The addition of a designated hitter gives them an ideal spot for the prodigal slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who returns from a two-year absence because of heel and ankle injuries.

Downside: They’ve had a losing record through the first 60 games in each of the last three seasons, and there’s no learning curve for the rookie manager Luis Rojas.

Upside: The Phillies have gotten only league-average performances from Jake Arrieta, a former Cy Young Award winner who enters the final season of his three-year, $75 million contract. At 34 — after knee surgery in 2018 and elbow surgery last year — Arrieta could benefit from a shorter schedule.

Downside: The Phillies were trying to sign the All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to a contract extension in spring training, then talks went cold during the pandemic. Free agency beckons in the fall.

Upside: No group of postseason starters has ever had more rest before the next opening day than Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, who combined for 89 ⅔ innings last October to lead Washington to its first championship.

Upside: Yu Darvish used the downtime to do what he does best: He invented a new pitch, “the Supreme,” a splitter/two-seam hybrid that veers down and in to right-handed hitters. It will be the 11th pitch in Darvish’s arsenal, matching his uniform number.

Downside: The seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field won’t be the same without fans singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” As the song says … it’s a shame.

Upside: The Reds will play 14 of their first 25 games against the lowly Tigers, Royals and Pirates, giving their imposing rotation — fronted by Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer — a chance to start the season right.

Downside: Manager David Bell racked up eight ejections through the end of July last season, but he kept his cool thereafter. For Bell to preserve his feisty reputation, he’ll need to find some late-summer fury — though he would be violating social-distancing protocols if he gets too close to the umpires.

Upside: The Brewers will travel the fewest miles of any team this season — 3,962, according to MLB Advanced Media. (The Texas Rangers will have the most travel: 14,706 miles.)

Downside: Manager Craig Counsell has been a master of using expanded rosters in September, guiding the Brewers to the playoffs by going 20-7 after Aug. 31 in both 2018 and 2019. This year, though, rosters will shrink as the season goes on. Teams will have 30 active players at the start, but must reduce rosters to 28 after two weeks and then contract to 26 after another two weeks.

Upside: A shorter season means fewer opportunities for fans to be frustrated by the exploits of the former Pirates Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow, all top starters in the A.L. East.

Downside: The rebuilding Pirates were mostly quiet last winter, and their players could have spent the last four months building trade value. With this season’s trading deadline on Aug. 31, the Pirates have much less time to add pieces for the future.

Upside: The pandemic canceled the Cardinals’ trip to London for a series with the Cubs, but it gives them a chance to play in Dyersville, Iowa. They’ll replace the Yankees as the visitors against the Chicago White Sox at the “Field of Dreams” site on Aug. 13.

Downside: The Cardinals never knew quite how to use Jose Martinez, a poor defender but a talented hitter with a .298 career average and a 7-for-13 performance in the playoffs last fall. The D.H. spot would have been ideal, but the Cardinals traded Martinez to Tampa Bay in January, before the N.L. adopted the D.H. for 2020.

National League West

Upside: If ever there was an athlete who needed time with family, it was the new Diamondbacks outfielder Starling Marte, who lost his wife, Noelia, to a heart attack in May. Marte told Arizona reporters last week that he initially contemplated retirement. “I’m very happy to be back, especially with my kids,” Marte said last week. “And obviously it’s been a very tough time for us, but through God and being able to speak with a couple of pastors and priests at our church, they’ve been able to help me through this process.”

Downside: Pitcher Madison Bumgarner has 19 career homers, connecting twice apiece off Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Alas, with the D.H. in the N.L. this season, Arizona’s new ace probably won’t get to swing for the fences.

Upside: The Astros were not on the Dodgers’ original 2020 schedule, but the new version matches them up twice: in Houston on July 28 and 29, and in Los Angeles on Sept. 12 and 13. Even without fans, those games — a rematch of the 2017 World Series — should be charged with emotion.

Downside: The Dodgers made the blockbuster deal of the winter, acquiring outfielder Mookie Betts and starter David Price from the Red Sox. Now they have Betts for just 60 games before free agency, and Price opted out of the season.

Upside: The Padres spent lavishly for the free agents Eric Hosmer in 2018 and Manny Machado last year. They’ve traded for dynamic young players like pitcher Chris Paddack and infielder Fernando Tatis Jr. — both of whom debuted last year — added a force last winter in outfielder Tommy Pham and built a strong bullpen. They can’t match the Dodgers for depth, but in a 60-game sprint, they’re talented enough to have a chance.

Downside: The Padres spent 29 years in the sartorial wilderness until last November, when they finally brought back their classic brown-and-yellow colors on a full-time basis. Those of us who clamored for the change have been waiting impatiently to see it for real.

Upside: Buster Posey set a noble example in opting out of the 2020 season. Posey, the Giants’ longtime catcher, chose to be with his family after adopting newborn twin daughters with weakened immune systems who need time in neonatal intensive care.

Downside: Posey’s absence reinforces just how far the Giants have fallen since winning three titles from 2010 through 2014. The other main pillars of those teams — Manager Bruce Bochy and starter Madison Bumgarner — departed after last season, leaving Pablo Sandoval, after a detour to Boston, as the only active Giant who played in all three World Series. (On the plus side, maybe Sandoval will get to pitch again.)



Source link Nytimes.com

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