Major League Baseball dropped a bomb this week, introducing a new playoff structure that invites 16 of the 30 franchises to participate in 2020. 

Gone is the one-game, wild-card playoff. 

In its place is a best-out-of-three, on-the-road showcase for middle-tier teams. 

The higher seed will host the three-game, first-round series. Home field advantage will be nice–always good to have the last at bat–but without fans in the stands, top seeds are newly vulnerable in 2020.

Over the past decade or so, baseball has shaped itself around demands of the previous post-season: superteams jockeying for wins at the top because winning the division meant avoiding the do-or-die wild card playoff–perhaps the most exciting wrinkle baseball has introduced in my lifetime. 

If an organization’s front office didn’t see its club as division-winning material, it frequently decided to lose as much as possible, altering the free agent market and prospect timeline universe in ways people are still grappling with.

That’s all different now.

MacKenzie Gore is coming up soon, is what I’m saying. A.J. Preller doesn’t have much incentive to worry about seven years from now if he can push for a playoff berth by trading Zach Davies for perhaps the game’s top pitching prospect. 

Other teams whose prospects might get a boost from the new rule?

Miami’s Marlins are so close they can taste a turnaround, and if they beat the World Series Champion Nationals on Sunday, hope and hype will follow.

Soto’s rona test and Strasburg’s nerve hands might put Washington in short-term jeopardy, which would be long term jeopardy a week ago in the 60-game season, but now they they don’t have to be great in the regular season to unleash their pitching in the playoffs. The rest of the NL East is seething with topside, but Miami has potential upgrades in the player pool at just about every roster spot. I had been thinking we wouldn’t see any of these guys because their chances of winning the division seemed dim, but now they just have to finish better than half the teams in the National League, and I think they’ve got the talent to challenge that. 

Anyway, Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera, Monte Harrison, Lewin Diaz, Jazz Chisholm, Max Meyer . . . all bets are off in August. 

Prospects working for Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore are still in service time purgatory.

Kansas City is crazy enough to promote some prospects if they can win a little early. 

Boston might call on Jeter Downs if the planets align. Course they’re getting run by Baltimore as I type this. 

Everyone else should be in play. It feels incredibly weird to play a season then let more than half the teams into the postseason, but it would fix some of the ills ailing the game right now, so I don’t see any harm in trying it for 2020. 

It’s been a big weekend. 

Here’s what else I’ve been seeing in the prospect world. 

OF Kyle Lewis is the best player in baseball, destined to get one walk and hit one home run in every game he ever plays. 

RHP Tyler Zuber debuted for the Royals with two scoreless innings. He’s a legitimate back-end talent who could captain this bullpen as early as 2021. 

RHP Brady Singer looked really good allowing five baserunners in five innings against Cleveland. Seven strikeouts. Might be the team’s best starter already.

OF Seth Brown hasn’t played yet for Oakland, and I am sad. Still think he’s their best non-Ramon outfielder. 

LHP Alex Vesia gave up two runs in his first major league innings. Not ideal, but 

RHP Nate Pearson makes his debut this week. Double check all your redraft waiver wires today just for good measure. 

LHP MacKenzie Gore benefits from expanded playoffs as explained in the intro. Stash him if you got him. Check the wire if you don’t. 

RHP Dustin May didn’t have the cleanest line and might be a WHIP problem in the short term, but he looks like a 95th percentile stuff guy. Big league hitters will not enjoy facing him. Streamer at worst on a win-heavy Dodgers club. 

RHP Jonathan Hernandez secured a hold in the opener, entering a 1-0 game in the 8th and striking out two batters. Seems like the primary set-up man for a closer with a history of control troubles. Giggidy. 

OF Jaylin Davis started against a righty in Ross Stripling in game two, blasting an opposite field shot for the Giants’ only run. Looks like an everyday player already. Or leastwise much more than a short-side platoon guy.  

OF Edward Olivares started game two in right field. Probably more short-side platoon than everyday role for now, but the opportunity is there for more.

3B Carter Kieboom filled the DH role in game two. It’s probably a good sign for his playing time, but it struck me as odd to think that Davey Martinez might prefer Assdribble and Starlin Castro at third and second, defensively.  

RF Daniel Johnson made his debut in game two due to Tyler Naquin having a hairline fracture in his big toe, which seems bad. Double arrows up for OF Bradley Zimmer, who has totally remade his swing since we last saw him, and for Johnson, who brings plus athleticism. With Zimmer in left, Mercado in center and Johnson in right, Cleveland has a case for best outfield range in baseball. 

RHP Cristian Javier looked smooth as expected in his scoreless inning against Seattle. Houston’s minor league pitching depth is staggering, and we’re about to see a perfect storm sized wave. 

RHP Enoli Paredes hasn’t debuted yet, but he, Javier and Abreu are going to give teams fits this year and should be solid/safe ratio guys for our game. They’re perfect for this 60-game burst as pieces who could open for Josh James or Austin Pruitt or pick up a couple innings if things go awry early. Yusmeiro Petit is gaining steam as a guy who’ll get a lot of decisions working middle innings this year, and the same could be said for these three unless Abreu finds himself closer to the back end. 

Thanks for reading! I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and Reddit.

 
  1. Nick says:
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    Hi Itch,

    just added Kyle Lewis EVERYWHERE, except in my dynasty team, where he belongs to me, but i have hard time to decide wheter to drop Khris Davis or Lourdes Grurriel for him…

    tried to trade Davis for a while without success… drop time?
    Grey says NO… last year and for now he still is an annoying bench man awaiting “THE” power surge
    Lourdes could be and expendable piece, especially at OF

    Nick

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Nick,

      I’m okay dropping Khris. Think he’s the worst of these three.

  2. Tigres says:
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    Thanks, Itch! How would you rank Brady Singer, Spencer Howard and Corbin Burnes for rest of 2020?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Tigers!

      Howard, Singer, Burnes for me, but I’d be happy to roster all.

  3. Commish Cauda says:
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    Loved the article. Perfect for deep leagues. Keep up the great work!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Commish!!

  4. Paul says:
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    What about Spencer Howard or Jo Adell?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Adell for me. I think he’s up next week.

  5. Dancin Homer says:
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    In my redraft league (12-team, 6×6 Roto) I have 1x NA spot.

    Currently have Adell in there, but is it worth also adding Gore or even dropping Adell for him?

    We have a total of 7 bench spots.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Kind of depends what you need, but I’d love to stash both for week and see what happens if possible.

  6. Primetime says:
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    Itch. Josh James or Singer?

    Also when do we add Sixto?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      James seems a better bet for wins, but I’m going Singer. Longer track record of getting deep into games.

      I’m not sure Sixto is a pre call-up stash guy for me in part because Miami is so deep, in part because he’s never been a big strikeout guy.

  7. Powdered Toast Man says:
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    Didn’t see Dylan Carlson mentioned. I grabbed him in a deep league. Has to be better than Buxton? Why you think Itch?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Powdered Toast Man!!

      I should’ve mentioned he and Adell. Just been thinking they’d be up in week 2 for so long I kind of forgot.

      I’m a long-time Buxton homer, but I do think I’d swap him out for Carlson now unless I really needed steals.

  8. Philip says:
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    Vesia finally hit the wire and suddenly I’m gun-shy about nabbing him. Would you drop Voth for him in a dynasty league? Ginkle? I’m rebuilding so it doesn’t matter what he does this year.
    Thanks, Itch!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Philip!

      I prefer Vesia to Ginkel, but you might be able to observe him from the wire given Ginkel’s proximity to saves.

      If Ginkel gets hit again this week, you could make the swap.

      I like him better than Voth, too, long term, but for this week, and this season feels more week-to-week than any, Voth and Ginkel have an inside lane.

  9. toolshed says:
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    Which reliever do you like better long term: munoz or clase? Thanks

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      What up, toolshed!?

      I prefer Munoz.

  10. Sagacious Sally says:
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    Pick 1 between Gore, Pearson, Howard

    I want to put in for one today before the bidding gets out of control. I like Pearson because I think he’ll get me RP eligibility (10 games) and I can slot him in as my 2nd RP if necessary. I see him as a guy with high k’s, holds and win potential.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Pearson for me, too.

    • The Harrow says:
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      i have no idea where you are seeing that pearson will get even one RP appearance or hold. he’s a starter and was thought to be used like a starter. i would be interested in where you read that though.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        Read right past the RP part, my bad.

        I just think he’s the best of that group, whatever P he holds.

  11. BadFantasyManager says:
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    Who would you rather have between Carlson and Adell? I’m in a redraft H2H league. We include K against, OPS, and BB additionally to the other 5 categories.

    And who would have a larger impact, fantasy-wise, between Carlson, Adell, or Gore? Although I need bats, I don’t think is a bad idea to have more quality pitchers.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I’m going with Adell, even in plate-skills leaning league like that.

      Adell in the head to head for me, too, but I do tend to load up on pitching in H2H.

  12. Rick Brown says:
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    Hey Itch,
    Verlander’s out for the year.Does this open up the door for any of the 3 Astros you mentioned or are they strictly bullpen guys?
    Thanks,RICK

  13. Slimcompoop says:
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    Good read…thanks Itch.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thank you kindly, Slimcompoop!

  14. Paul says:
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    So when do you think Gore will be up sooner than the 6 days or right after the Sox days and what role do you expect him to be.

    I was thinking that he would do long relief and not be a starter at first

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Good question, Paul.

      I think he’d be called up to start, and I do think they’ll wait until they’re certain they’ll get an extra year of control, maybe even super two if Davies pitches really well his first time out.

  15. Rick Brown says:
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    Update on Verlander-Forearm strain,to be evaluated in a couple weeks.Does even this give those young guys a shot in the rotation.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I think it does.

      They called up Brandon Bielak, and he’s more traditional SP who’s stuff doesn’t jump in the pen, so he might get the first crack, but I doubt he’ll get through five innings very often if so, opening the door for wins for Javier, Paredes and Abreu.

      I think all three are borderline must-owns in deepish leagues at the moment.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        And now Bielak is throwing himself into the waiver wire but perhaps out of contention for the next start, which I hope goes to Cristian Javier.

  16. Primetime says:
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    What’s the chances of Kelenic Coming up? Who is his MLB comparison?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Sorry I missed this!

      I don’t think Kelenic comes up this year and don’t have a great comp for him.

      I’d hate to go Yelich bc that’s a bit much and Yelich is bigger, and I can’t really go peak David Peralta bc he had such a weird path, and Benintendi has a very different body type, less power and has plateaued for now . . .

      But those are some names coming to mind . . .

  17. Moon Shots says:
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    Howdy Itch,

    Im in a 30 team deep dynasty and in rebuild mode. Can get a first round pick for next year and Aquino for Merill Kelly and Kike. Do i pull the trigger?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hiya Moonshots!

      I’d do that.

      Might counter and ask for another late pick (maybe a 3 or 4).

      SP can be tricky in a 30 so I think you could ask, but I’d want to move Kelly before his next start, and I’d want to add Aquino before/in case he gets hot, so I’m not sure if I’d bother with the counter.

      Would likely come down to the trade partner and how well I know him/her. Friendly w some past negotiations/history? I go ahead and make the counter if I know it won’t kill the deal. If it’s my first trade talk w that person, I probably hit accept on this bc it’s close enough, and it’s valuable to develop productive trade relationships.

      Last question to consider, is this a super team? Did they win last year? I’d be leery of buying a pick I’m pretty sure is going to be 30 or 29.

      • Moon Shots says:
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        Thanks for the sage advice Itch.

        Its a brand new 30 team league so while there is no data from last year i do expect his team to be a top 5 team and thus the draft pick to not have a whole lot of shine. But…plenty of high caliber players are drafted that late.

        The other guy is a friend who isnt going to balk at trying to add a sweetener. For example im sure he would give me Leody Taveras (i have no MiLB room so he is one of the only prospects that belong to him that i could roster since he recenlty got an AB and i can put him on the majors side).

      • Moon Shots says:
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        Thanks for the sage advice Itch.

        Its a brand new 30 team league so while there is no data from last year i do expect his team to be a top 5 team and thus the draft pick to not have a whole lot of shine. But…plenty of high caliber players are drafted that late.

        The other guy is a friend who isnt going to balk at trying to add a sweetener. For example im sure he would give me Leody Taveras (i have no MiLB room so he is one of the only prospects that belong to him that i could roster since he recenlty got an AB and i can put him on the majors side). I could possibly get him to throw in Hunter Harvey instead but not sure.

        • Moon Shots says:
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          Damn duplicate. Hunter Harvey was the point of the second one.

          • The Itch

            The Itch says:
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            Never been in on Harvey but if it’s a Saves league (as opposed to S+H) I prefer him to Leody.

  18. Moon Shots says:
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    I could prob also pass on Kike/Aquino and get the pick for Kelly alone (with Taveras maybe thrown in)

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Yeah I dunno if I’m crazy about paying Kike for Aquino at the moment. The league rules do seem to lean Taveras.

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