Zack Greinke
Getty Images

Zack Greinke limits Nationals, Astros take 4-1 win in World Series Game 3

4 Comments

The Astros entered Game 3 of the World Series with an 0-2 record and unbelievably bad odds of pulling off a championship title. According to MLB.com’s David Adler, their comeback chances hovered around 25.7% for a series win, with a 7.8% chance of getting it done in six games and a 17.9% chance in seven. The club’s playoff hopes boiled down to a single-game performance from Zack Greinke, who had followed up his All-Star campaign with several rough outings in the ALDS and ALCS.

Luckily for the Astros, Greinke entered Friday’s game with some of the best stuff the club has seen from him this postseason. He pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-run, three-walk, six-strikeout ball, holding the Nationals to a single run and paving the path to a 4-1 win — the Astros’ first of the World Series.

Behind Greinke, the Astros’ offense consistently found opportunities to get around Aníbal Sánchez. The Nats’ right-hander took his second loss of the postseason and first since Game 3 of the NLDS, allowing 10 hits, four runs, a walk, and striking out just four of 27 batters in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed a double to Carlos Correa in the second inning, who was then driven in by Josh Reddick on a line drive to left field. In the third, José Altuve led off the inning with another double, then crossed home plate on a Michael Brantley RBI single after the ball deflected off of Sánchez.

The Nationals finally caught a break in the bottom of the fourth. With one out and Ryan Zimmerman on first, Victor Robles roped a triple off of Greinke, plating Zimmerman and getting the team on the board. It was the first and last run they’d manage off of the Astros; after Greinke departed in the fifth, Houston rotated through an inexhaustible combination of Josh James, Brad Peacock, Will Harris, Joe Smith, and Roberto Osuna to stifle any rally the Nationals might have tried to engineer.

The Astros weren’t quite done yet, however: Altuve and Brantley went back-to-back again to drive in a third run in the fifth inning. In the sixth, Robinson Chirinos hit a home run off of Sánchez, lifting a first-pitch sinker out to the left-field foul pole and padding the Astros’ lead, 4-1.

The Nationals will attempt to get the series back on track on Saturday night, when they’ll send southpaw Patrick Corbin out to the mound for his first start since Game 4 of the NLCS. The Astros — who still face some pretty unfavorable odds — have yet to name a starter; given how many relievers they trotted out in Game 3, it’s unclear who they’ll rely on for another crucial game.

Game 4 is set for Saturday evening at 8:08 PM EDT.

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

Miguel Cabrera
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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 cancelled. (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.)