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And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

White Sox 10, Phillies 5: Leury Garcia smacked a grand slam, Eloy Jimenéz hit a three-run shot and Tim Anderson hit a solo shot as the White Sox won easily. What do the Phillies need to do to turn this recent skid around, Bryce Harper?

“Just keep playing Philly baseball,” Harper said. “Keep being the same team.”

Uh, isn’t that part of the problem, dude?

Orioles 6, Blue Jays 5: I got a smoker for my birthday and made ribs for the first time yesterday and they came out awesome. Did a Texas-style dry rub. No brown sugar. No barbecue sauce. I know that’s not everyone’s jam, but it’s my favorite way to eat ’em. Despite never having made ribs myself I was really happy with the results too. I think next time I’m gonna do a dry brine and change up the rub a bit. Yeah, I’m mentioning all of this to keep me from having to talk about a sloppy as hell game between a couple of teams going nowhere that turned on wild pitches and errors more than competent baseball. ProudlyCanadian reads this feature every day and is one of our most active commenters. I’m sure he has opinions about all of it, at least from the Jays perspective, that are way better than anything I could come up with. O’s folks can chime in too. I can’t bring myself to do it. In the meantime, anyone with a good recipe for a smoked chicken or brisket or something, let me know.

Indians 6, Angels 2: Shane Bieber tossed his third complete game of the year, allowing two runs on five hits and was backed by homers from Oscar Mercado, Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis, who knocked in three in all. The Tribe sweeps the Angels. After the game Terry Francona said this about Bieber, who has stepped into the ace role that Corey Kluber once held:

“You can go back six or seven years and see everything I said about Kluber, then put Bieber’s name in there and it would be true. You know how we feel about Kluber and his work ethic, so to put Justin in there with him, I meant it as a huge compliment.”

I do realize he meant that as a compliment but I’m getting some “All About Eve” vibes, here, with Kluber in the Margo Channing role and Bieber as Eve Harrington. I’m not sure who the Bill Simpson or Addison DeWitt figure are in all of this, but give me some time and I’ll sketch it out.

Rays 7, Marlins 2: Six straight wins for the Rays. Yonny Chirinos got the start for Tampa Bay and pitched well but had to leave due to an inflammation to his right middle finger. Probably best to keep it isolated and elevated. And that’s whether it’s injured or not, frankly. Mike Brosseau and Jesus Aguilar each homered and drove in a couple.

Reds 6, Braves 4: The Shane Greene acquisition hasn’t worked out so well for the Braves so far. He blew a save in his first appearance for Atlanta on Saturday and yesterday he gave up a three-run homer to Tucker Barnhart in the tenth inning and took the loss. And it wasn’t just the homer. He gave up three singles before that to set the big fly up, so, yah. Sonny Gray tossed seven shutout innings. After he left Josh Donaldson and Ronald Acuña each homered to tie it and force extras. That was pretty exciting. Until it wasn’t.

Mets 13, Pirates 2: Noah Syndergaard allowed one on only three hits over seven. He didn’t need to be that good, as the Mets unloaded a can of whoopass on Joe Musgrove and the Pirates’ staff. J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil all homered. Syndergaard had a couple of hits himself. The only bad thing for the Mets yesterday was Robinson Canó leaving with a messed up hamstring. Right when he was heating up too. The Mets have won nine of ten and are three back in the Wild Card.

Astros 3, Mariners 1: Justin Verlander was Justin Verlander, striking out 10 over six innings to help the Astros win their fourth in a row. They’ve allowed four runs in those games so I’d say their pitching is in order at the moment. And Zack Greinke still hasn’t made his first appearance for Houston. That comes Tuesday.

Twins 3, Royals 0: Devin Smeltzer and three relievers shut the Royals out on two hits, Jason Castro homered and and Eddie Rosario drove in two. That whole “the Twins are collapsing as the Indians surge” thing is not playing out the way it was before. Minnesota has won eight of ten and that three-game cushion seems to be holding steady.

Cubs 7, Brewers 2: Big day for Cubs players who have caught a lot of hell over the past couple of years. Jason Heyward drove in three. He homered as did Kyle Schwarber, and Yu Darvish allowed one run over five. The Brewers have lost six of seven and this three-game sweep shoves them four games back in the Central.

Rockies 6, Giants 2: Two dingers for Nolan Arenado. Trevor Story homered too. It was his fifth straight game with a homer against the Giants. He’s a . . . what’s a good word for someone who constantly does well against Giants? If only someone had an idea for a phrase that describes such a thing? Wait, I’ve got it — he’s a . . . do-gooder-against-Giants-person!

Rangers 9, Tigers 4: A three-game sweep of the Tigers which, once you adjust for it being the Tigers is more of a .75 game sweep, right? Willie Calhoun hit a tie-breaking three-run triple in the seventh. Danny Santana hit a two-run homer earlier. The Rangers won all six games against the Tigers this year.

Athletics 4, Cardinals 2: Tanner Roark made his A’s debut and he did a pretty good job of it, allowing one run over five. Dustin Garneau doubled in a couple. Jurickson Profar homered. A two-game sweep for the A’s. But, like, since when do you have a two-game weekend series? There’s a total glitch in the matrix, man.

Dodgers 11, Padres 10: A wild one. Max Muncy went 4-for-5 with a home run, three RBI and three runs scored, including a walk-off, two-run double to help the Dodgers come back from a late three-run deficit. That wasted Eric Hosmer‘s grand slam and five RBI day. Dodgers take three of four from the Padres and have won five of six.

Diamondbacks 7, Nationals 5: Ketel Marte had three hits including an inside-the-park homer and Adam Jones drove in four, which included a tie-breaking RBI single. That inside the parker was, as a lot of them are, a function of a poor defensive choice, but such is life:

The Nats have lost seven of ten.

Yankees 7, Red Sox 4: David Price couldn’t make it out of the third and was pounded for seven runs on nine hits. New York plated six runs in that third inning with Gio Urshela hitting a two-run home run, Cameron Maybin hitting an RBI double, Mike Ford knocking in a run with a single, and Mike Tauchman hitting his own RBI single. The Yankees complete the four-game sweep and hand the Sox their eighth straight loss, which now has them 14.5 games behind New York and six and a half games back of the Rays for the second Wild Card.

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.)