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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Between the Trevor Bauer/Yasiel Puig/Franmil Reyes trade and the fracas in Cincinnati it was quite an eventful night last night, eh?

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Pirates 11, Reds 4: Fisticuffsmasnship! Bill wrote about the donnybrook last night — and detailed the Pirates’ history of chippiness — so I won’t belabor the details here. I do find it interesting, however, that Yasiel Puig was still in the game and able to participate in all of this despite the fact that he was either traded or almost traded to Cleveland by then. I have to think that someone in the Indians organization is gonna have some choice words for the Reds for not pulling him before that, especially given that he game in which he was playing was neither a close nor important in the grand scheme. Then again, he’s Puig. He could’ve been crossing the bridge to Kentucky on his way to the airport for his flight for Cleveland with the game on the radio and he may have ran back into the stadium to shove people anyway. It’s just sort of how he rolls, so maybe it makes do no difference.

My only new thought on all of that is that I love this quote from Jared Hughes after unleashing the plunking that set the thing off:

“The ball just slipped and it was real unfortunate and a lot of bad things happened afterward”

That’s some real “John Bender from the ‘Breakfast Club’ ‘Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place,'” energy.

As for the game, Corey Dickerson, hit two homers and drove in five as the Buccos snapped their nine-game losing streak.

Mets 5, White Sox 2: Noah Syndergaard has trade rumors swirling around him and, even yesterday, some — us included — were wondering if, given that the Mets’ Triple-A starter had been scratched, if it meant that Syndergaard might even be moved before this game. That’s gotta be distracting, but if it was he didn’t show it because he went out and struck out 11 batters in seven and a third while allowing only a single unearned run. That speaks to (a) Syndergaard’s focus; and (b) the insanity that is the Mets’ reported continued intention to try to trade Syndergaard. Despite his dominance, though, this game went to extras. The Mets won it thanks to Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto hitting consecutive homers in the 11th. Which, again, may I stress that a rotation featuring Syndergaard, deGrom and Stroman and a lineup led by McNeil, Conforto and Pete Alonso is, with a few defensive and bullpen upgrades, a real contender? Do the Mets not know this? Do they not care?

Braves 11, Nationals 8: It was all Atlanta through most of the game, as they took a 5-0 lead after three, an 9-0 lead after four and led 11-1 as the bottom of the seventh began. The Nats scored seven runs in the final three innings, though, with six of those coming off of Braves relievers. That’s gotta be a little disconcerting for the Braves but, hey, they won. Adam Duvall homered twice among his four hits, Josh Donaldson hit a three-run shot, and Ozzie Albies and Ender Inciarte each had three hits for Atlanta. Yan GomesTrea Turner and Juan Soto homered for the Nats. The Braves lead is back up to five and a half.

Orioles 8, Padres 5: The Padres took a 4-0 lead into the fourth but the O’s plated three that inning to make it a mostly new ballgame. It’d be tied at five in the eighth when Chris Davis — on an 0-for-18 streak and one strikeout away from a Golden Sombrero — launched a tie-breaking home run after which Baltimore plated a couple of more to win it going away. It’s been a multi-year nightmare for Davis at the plate so I imagine these few moments of non-horror have to feel something like triumph.

Diamondbacks 4, Yankees 2: I saw this tweet a half hour or so after the east coast games started last night:

The same guy tweeted that he was just getting into the game after 50 minutes in line. My sense from the responses is that, while this is not a typical experience getting into the gates of Yankee Stadium or any other ballpark it’s not super crazy rare, either, and that security has made it a real hassle over the past couple of years. For what it’s worth, my ballpark experiences in the age of metal detectors haven’t been bad, but I’m also one of those people who get there super early. If you have an office job and have no way to get to the ballpark until just before game time I’m guessing this is way more common. Between that and the prices of games being what they are it’s not a big mystery why attendance is down.

As for this game, Christian Walker and Carson Kelly homered for the Snakes and rookie Talyor Clarke allowed only an unearned run while pitching three-hit ball into the sixth inning. The Diamondbacks are 14-5 in interleague play this year. Weird.

Phillies 4, Giants 2: Drew Smyly tossed seven shutout innings and was backed by a two-run shot from Rhys Hoskins. Smyly allowed a run in six innings in his first start for the Phillies, which just goes to show you that sometimes picking up guys from the scrap heap pays off.

Astros 2, Indians 0: Justin Verlander was dominant, striking out 13 in seven shutout innings while allowing only two hits. His counterpart, Shane Bieber, was pretty good himself, only allowing a couple of runs in the fifth and working seven himself, but good was not good enough given what Verlander was doing.

Rays 6, Red Sox 5: The Rays led 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth with Charlie Morton on the mound. With one on and two out in, Kevin Cash came out and lifted him, much to Morton’s displeasure. The first pitch from Rays reliever Adam Kolarek was launched over the Green Monster by Andrew Benintendi. Sometimes you just gotta listen to your pitchers, dude. It all worked out OK, though, as Avisail García — who had homered already — hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the sixth. Travis d'Arnaud went deep earlier too.

Twins 2, Marlins 1: Jake Odorizzi and three relievers held the Fish to four hits. Marlins pitchers held the Twins batters to four hits too, actually, but but one of ’em was a Byron Buxton homer and another was a Miguel Sanó RBI double. Sergio Romo pitched for Minnesota. He was a Marlin just last week. I can’t imagine that doesn’t feel weird. Being a Marlin I mean. The Twins lead in the Central is back up to three games.

Mariners 8, Rangers 5: Kyle Seager had a solo homer, hit a tie-breaking two-run triple and drove in four runs to help the M’s win their sixth straight game. Texas, who looked kinda frisky there for a few weeks, has now lost 18 times in 25 games and is back under .500. The season is long. You can’t really fool anyone for six months.

Cardinals 2, Cubs 1: Adam Wainwright (5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) was a hair better than Yu Darvish (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER) while Paul Goldschmidt‘s sixth inning homer broke a 1-1 tie and ended the game’s scoring. It was Goldschmidt’s seven homer in eight games. The Cardinals win puts them back in sole possession of first place in the Central.

Blue Jays 9, Royals 2: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a grand slam and drove in five, Freddy Galvis drove in a pair and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. knocked in a run as well. All that support was enough to give Sean Reid-Foley the win. Though, I guess since he tossed five shutout innings and the Royals only scored two in the game he didn’t need all that support.

Dodgers 9, Rockies 4: The boys in blue knocked Rockies starter Kyle Freeland around for eight runs — seven earned — before the fourth inning was over. Kristopher Negron — just acquired from the Mariners — homered in his first at-bat with the Dodgers and A.J. PollockRussell Martin and Justin Turner all went deep too. Los Angeles became the first team in the majors to reach 70 wins.

Angels 6, Tigers 1: Griffin Canning — which sounds like a business your father in law, Montgomery Griffin, wants you to work for if you expect to marry his lovely young daughter — tossed six shutout innings, striking out seven. Sunday’s hero Matt Thaiss homered and drove in three in all. I mean it, my boy. You start as an entry-level accountant at Griffin Canning, learn the business, and I promise you great things. Do you want to make my young Marjorie happy or not? Because I guarantee you, buster, that guitar-playing is not going to amount to anything in the long run. Rock and roll is a fad. The canning business will provide for your family.

Athletics 3, Brewers 2: It was a 1-0 game thanks to a Matt Olson RBI early in the game. That lasted until the eighth when a Yasmani Grandal single tied things up. Khris Davis homered in the bottom half to give the A’s back the lead but Erik Thames homered in the ninth to force extras. Olson strode the plate in the bottom of the tenth, however, and hit one 400 feet over the center field wall to give the A’s the walkoff win. That’s three straight for the A’s, who remain a half game ahead of the Rays in the second Wild Card position.

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.)