And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 9, Red Sox 1: Gary Sanchez hit two homers and drove in five and Michael Pineda allowed only an unearned run and struck out eight over seven innings of work. David Price said he wasn’t talking to the media except on days he pitched. Yesterday he pitched. And he gave up six runs on eight hits in five innings. I’m sure he was looking forward to that conversation for the rest of the game but, to his credit, he refrained from expletive-filled rants and simply answered questions.

Diamondbacks 15, Padres 3: This game started at 3:40 Eastern time and lasted less than three hours, so Senator McCain has no excuses if he’s less than sharp today. Chris Iannetta hit a two run homer and drove in five more runs with a pair of RBI doubles. Ten of the Dbacks’ 15 runs came with two outs.

Giants 9, Brewers 5: This game had everything. Lead changes. A blown ninth inning. A big extra innings rally. A guy with no pants storming the field:

You know, the usual. As for the baseball, Giants closer Mark Melancon, blew a two-run lead in the ninth by giving up a leadoff homer to Eric Sogard and an RBI single to Travis Shaw‘s before recording an out. He stopped the damage there, however, and his teammates rallied for four in the tenth.

Reds 5, Cardinals 2: A four game sweep for the Reds capped with a four-hit day from Joey Votto. One of those hits was a two-run shot. Adam Duvall had three hits. It’s the first time the Reds have swept the Cardinals in a four game series since 2003. The Cards have lost seven in a row.

Angels 11, Tigers 4: The Tigers had an early 4-1 lead but Michael Fulmer faltered and the bullpen utterly failed. The Angels took the lead with a four-run fifth and piled on six runs in the seventh. Eric Young Jr. had three hits and scored three times and Danny Espinosa drove in three.

Nationals 6, Orioles 1: A makeup game no one wanted to play. The Nats were coming off of a west coast road trip and Orioles just played a couple of long, tough extra innings games against the Pirates which drained their bullpen. The starters were fresh, but only one of them pitched well. Joe Ross of the Nats gave up one run and four hits over seven and a third innings, striking out 12 and not walking anyone. His secret:

“Tried to execute and keep the ball down”

Oh, thanks.

Stephen Drew homered and Trea Turner had three hits and three stolen bases

Marlins 7, Pirates 1: Often times guys have a bad outing following a no-hitter. Not Edinson Volquez. The Marlins starter, who no-hit the Diamondbacks last Saturday tossed seven shutout innings here, allowing only three hits and striking out eight. He’s lowered his ERA on the season by more than a run in just his last two starts. Derek Dietrich and Christian Yelich each had three hits, each with two doubles.

Rays 7, White Sox 5: Derek Norris has not had a good week off the field, but on the field yesterday he was just fine, homering in the third and the fourth innings. Peter Bourjos and Colby Rasmus also homered for Tampa Bay. Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier left the game with a jammed right hip after sliding into first base while trying to beat out an infield hit in the fifth. Sliding into first base is never a good idea, people. Ever.

Braves 3, Phillies 1: R.A. Dickey hasn’t had a good year so far, but last night he got things right, allowing only one run on three hits in seven innings. The highlight of this game, however, may have been when Maikel Franco hacked at a knuckleball, lost control of the bat and sent it flying into the protective netting. Where it got stuck:

[mlbvideo id=”1477571583″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

 

Rockies 4, Cubs 1: All of the scoring was over after the second inning in this one, with Kris Bryant hit a solo homer in the first and Charlie Blackmon and D.J. LeMahiew each knocking runs, on a double and a homer, respectively, in the second. Tyler Chatwood went six innings, allowing only tat Bryant homer. That’s five straight wins for Colorado. For years the deal with the Rockies was that, if they could only get average pitching, they had a fighting chance given their offensive environment. So far this year Colorado has a top-10 pitching staff in all of baseball.

Astros 6, Royals 1: It was a 1-1 game heading into the ninth, thanks in large part to Lance McCullers, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. McCullers wasn’t able to hang around for the decision, but his teammates did their part in the final frame, scoring five runs thanks in part to Jose Altuve‘s  two-run homer. Jason Hammel was pretty dang good himself, allowing only one run over seven.

Twins 2, Mariners 1: The M’s five-game winning streak came to end, thanks in part to Robinson Cano who made two errors on one play, allowing the Twins’ go-ahead run to score in the fifth. The Twins first run came on a Jason Castro homer in the fourth.

If 2020 season is canceled, which players would be hurt the most?

Miguel Cabrera
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Last week, I went over a few teams that stood to be hurt most if there were to be no 2020 season as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Today, we will look at some players who may be adversely effected by a lost year.

Milestones

Players chasing milestones, especially those towards the end of their careers, would be stymied by a lost season. Tigers DH and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera is the first one that comes to mind. He is 23 home runs short of joining the 500 home run club. Though he hasn’t hit more than 16 in a year since 2016, he would likely have at least hit a few this year and would have had an easier time getting there in 2021. He turns 37 years old in 10 days. Cabrera may be under contract through 2023, but it is not clear that his age and his health would allow him to play regularly such that he would be able to reach 500 home runs if the 2020 season were to be canceled. (Cabrera is also 185 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.)

Mike Trout has 285 home runs for his career. It’s almost a given that he would get to 300 and beyond in 2020. He is currently one of only 13 players with at least 250 home runs through his age-27 season. The only players with more: Álex Rodríguez (345), Jimmie Foxx (302), Eddie Mathews (299), and Ken Griffey Jr. (294). Trout likely would have also reached 1,000 runs for his career, as he is currently at 903. Losing a full season could really make a difference where he winds up on the all-time leaderboards at the end of his career.

Veteran catcher Yadier Molina will be a free agent at season’s end, though he and the Cardinals have expressed interest in a contract extension. He turns 38 this summer and is 37 hits shy of 2,000 for his career. Even if this season never happens, Molina will likely join the 2,000 hit club in 2021 whether or not he signs a multi-year extension. Molina is also 84 RBI shy of 1,000 and 21 doubles shy of 400.

Free Agents

Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto headline the free agent class heading into the 2021 season. Even if there eventually is a 2020 season, or something resembling it, teams are losing money across the board and that will result in stinginess in the free agent market. Make no mistake, Betts and Realmuto, as well as Trevor Bauer, Marcus Semien, and Marcus Stroman will still get paid handsomely, but they likely won’t get as much as they would following a typical year. The players that really stand to get hurt are the mid-tier free agents, whose cost won’t match their relative upside — players like James McCann, Howie Kendrick, Yuli Gurriel, DJ LeMahieu, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Turner, Michael Grantley, Marcell Ozuna, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jay Bruce, and Josh Reddick.

2020-21 Draftees and International Free Agents

At the end of March, MLB and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement on a deal covering issues including service time, pay during the pandemic, and the amateur draft. In exchange for players on active rosters getting credit for a full year of service time whether or not there is a 2020 season, the league got the right to shorten the 2020 draft to five rounds and the 2021 draft to 20 rounds. The league also gained the right to delay the start of the 2020 and 2021-22 international signing periods.

The MLBPA effectively sold out what will be their future union members. A shortened draft this year and/or next year would mean that players who would otherwise have been drafted this year will go undrafted and thus will either become unsigned free agents or return to the draft next year as part of a crowded pool of players. Likewise, pushing back the international signing period will add more players to the market at the same time. This, obviously, benefits ownership as a surplus of labor diminishes those laborers’ leverage.

Bounce-back Candidates

Players coming off of injuries or otherwise down years in 2019 were hoping to use 2020 to bounce back, reestablishing themselves in the league. Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani didn’t pitch at all last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery and was hopeful to rejoin the starting rotation at some point in the first half of a normal 2020 season. We learned yesterday that Ohtani is expected to throw off a mound “soon.” If a 2020 season does happen, it likely wouldn’t begin for another couple of months at minimum, which should afford him enough time to get into pitching shape.

Ohtani’s teammate and perennial Gold Glove Award candidate Andrelton Simmons played in only 103 games last season due to an ankle injury. He mustered a meager .673 OPS as well, compiling just 1.9 WAR, his lowest total in any season since debuting in 2012. In 2017, he peaked at 7.8 WAR and put up 6.3 the following season. Simmons will become a free agent after the 2020 season, so he most certainly needed a healthy and productive 2020 to maximize his leverage on the market.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, now 36 years old, is coming off of the worst offensive season of his career. He hit .261/.357/.411 with 15 home runs and 47 RBI in 608 plate appearances, continuing a downward trend. He registered a 167 adjusted OPS as recently as 2017, but that declined to 126 in ’18 and 98 last year. The Reds, back to being competitive, were definitely banking on a bounce-back year from Votto. (Votto, by the way, is also 56 RBI short of the 1,000 milestone for his career.)