I’ve been really struggling on a monthly basis to write these articles. It isn’t because my love of baseball, or sports is gone. It’s simply from waiting with anticipation for an entire month to get a confirmed framework for a season to provide true actionable information to you the reader, and then as the article deadline slowly approaches… once again… nothing. So I bite my lip and carry on into the great speculative arena of a potential MLB season as we are all doing. Ironically, the approach the MLB and the players association are taking to negotiating a 2020 season seems to be the root cause of this push the article, get nothing, write speculative article cycle. The two sides are going to take this negotiation down to the last minute and play deal or no deal. I don’t blame either side. It’s business, from both the owners and players perspectives, and there are A LOT of moving parts here. However, I do believe we are coming down to the wire and the MLB can ill afford to miss the natural bump they would receive in even a partial season in viewership. As this deadline is trickling down it seems that the framework for the season is becoming even more narrow. At this point, we haven’t heard any other speculation since the 3 division 10 team proposal approximately a month ago. In my mind, this must be the working plan for the 2020 MLB season going forward. In analyzing these divisions, considering the addition of the designated hitter for the NL teams I see some clear winners and losers:

2 Up

Clayton Kershaw – As a whole, the delayed season is certainly a plus to veteran pitchers, guys with large career innings numbers, and who have frequently pitched deep into the postseason year after year. That said, Kershaw picks up an additional bonus. In an abbreviated season it is highly unlikely the Dodgers will be able to pull their IL tricks at any point. People thought the increase from 10 day IL to a 15 day could curb some of it, but the lack of ability for teams to gain standings separation makes it almost impossible for the Dodgers to come up with phantom injuries if there is a 2020 season. The Astros are likely to push them in their own division and the top 2 seeds in a 14-team playoff are going to have a competitive advantage. Kershaw will also lose a few trips to Coors and adds a couple pitcher friendly ballparks to the schedule in the new Texas stadium and Seattle.

Patrick Corbin – Corbin’s left arm is coming off back to back 200 IP seasons and a World Series run that surely is aided by an extended break. Of even greater importance is the fact that this division has several bottom dwellers, a handful of atrocious offenses, and a group of NL teams that will not be gaining a large competitive advantage with the addition of the DH. The Marlins and Pirates might as well just hit their pitchers. I’ve previously noted that I already liked Corbin quite a bit coming into 2020 and had him over consensus in my top 100 starting pitcher rankings released way before we ever heard the name Tony Fauci. That doesn’t stop now and with a compressed schedule and what will be a tight playoff race (no matter how they cut up the automatic qualifiers versus wild card slots) I expect the Nationals to ride their starters instead of turning the ball over to an atrocious bullpen.

2 Down

Jose Berrios – I saw Berrios as a useful and genuinely underrated fantasy commodity coming into 2020. In my opinion, he will never be a true elite ace because he lacks the swing and miss stuff. However, he had a recipe for an extremely high wins floor and accumulating strikeout totals paired with durability not common in today’s game. Though, his true underlying driver for why he was underrated going into 2020 was that he was going to pitch in the worst offensive division in baseball when excluding his own team. That has changed significantly under the newly proposed divisions. Berrios has lost at least 10 games apiece against the lowly Royals and Tigers and has added what I believe is 5 average to above average offensive teams to his division. Additionally, don’t overlook the fact that Berrios is losing pitching two months of games in the Minneapolis cold. In the past 3 seasons when at home in March through May, Berrios has pitched to a 3.09 ERA and a 9+ K/9.

Alex Wood – Wood is sneaking into the NFBC top 100 overall pitchers over the last few months. This makes him a rostered pitcher in almost every format, but in a compressed season I don’t see much leash for this guy with all of the talent the Dodgers will have waiting to jump at the opportunity. This is certainly dependent on how the roster rules play out in any 2020 season, but as long as the teams are allowed to carry some extra minor leaguers and the service time rules don’t skew in the players favor I don’t expect the Dodgers to hold Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin on a back field throwing simulated games for much of the year. This rule can really be applied in a ton of situations as I cannot imagine many teams will be playing around with talented minor league players without any actual minor league games. Teams are going to be forced to make decisions and make them quick in regards to who they are going to “bring up” to play, specifically with pitchers. There are only so many bullets in most of these players arms and wasting them at a spring training facility in August seems less beneficial than telling them to take a year off. That will all become more clear in the next few weeks… if this gets worked out of course.

 
  1. Grey

    Grey says:
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    Great post, Pat! Weird thing with Wood, I don’t think a delayed start is good for him, but I also don’t think it’s good for May either (or Gonsolin) — I’d imagine they just piggyback with 3 IP from each

    • Pat

      Pat says:
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      I agree. I still want to see all of the rules, but I could see it potentially hurting Urias again as well if the roster/pitcher limits are high.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Yeah, completely

  2. KrazyIvan says:
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    I really like Kluber in the short season. New stadium with the roof on should help the Rangers pitching. Frazier, Andrus, Odor and Guzmán will be a solid defense.

    There are going to be some adventures between Calhoun, Santana and Solack to get LF and CF covered. I don’t even think Choo owns a glove anymore.

    • Pat

      Pat says:
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      I liked Kluber more than most going into the year and I typically don’t like pitchers with his profile. I certainly don’t think the short season hurts him so I’m glad I grabbed so much way back in Feb/March, which seems so long ago.

    • Yep agree Krazy, getting quite a discount on Kluber (and his non-throwing arm injury) Some got spooked by the 35+ IP last year, but I’m thinking he’ll return to form in Texas
      good read Pat

  3. 183414 says:
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    A big fan of Corbin here. Wish I had more than 2 shares. Berrios will be fine.
    Has the league alignments been set up ? You seem to know that Kershaw will be pitching in Texas and Seattle and not at Coors. Haven’t read that anywhere. Just a lot of noise so far.
    Hope that Manfred doesn’t cave in to what Kershaw and Trout specifically want. Would make me like Manfred less, if that were possible.
    Bieber: 3 shares
    Giolito: 4 shares
    Paddack: 3 shares
    Castillo: 2 shares
    Flaherty: 2 shares
    Woodruff: 2 shares
    Wheeler: 2 shares
    Fried: 4 shares
    Odorizzi: 4 shares
    Yarbrough: 4 shares
    Chirinos: 4 shares
    Hendricks: 3 shares
    Keuchel: 4 shares
    Stroman: 3 shares
    Weaver: 2 shares

    Did manage to get a share each of Cole, Buehler, Clevinger, Darvish, Glasnow, Berrios, Luzardo, and Gallen.

    With 11 drafts, 6 s.p.’s w/ 4 shares, and 4 w/ 3 shares.

    I know that Kershaw had a nice s.t., but also know that back problems tend to reoccur.

    In an 80 game season, more like a sprint than the Belmont, and anything can happen.

  4. LG Baseball says:
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    Pat,

    Really like your articles! I heard they may be going to a geographic based division system where for instance NL east would play 2/3 against their division and 1/3 against the AL east to minimize travel.

    That could be the toughest division given it opens up more NY and Boston matchups (and those hitter friendly parks) and more Braves, Phillies, Mets (Alonso!) matchups for Nats pitchers. I think NL east pitchers specifically would take the biggest hit. Who knows where it all shakes out but if that set up is the case I’m all over central pitchers for both leagues (Gio, Bieber, Flaherty, Darvish, Odorizzi, S. gray, Bauer). What are your thoughts on that and is that similar to what you have heard?

    LG

  5. 183414 says:
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    For total accuracy, if anyone really cares which s.p.’s the reigning online overall champion drafted, I forgot:
    deGrom: 1 share
    Strasburg: 2 shares
    Paxton: 1 share (@pick 220.
    Ryu: 2 shares
    Ray: 1 share
    Maeda: 1 share
    Heaney:1 share
    Houser: 2 shares
    Puk: 1 share
    Musgrove: 1 share
    Alcantara : 1 share
    Civale: 1 share
    DeSclafani: 2 shares
    Lucchesi: 2 shares
    Lopez(Pablo): 2 shares
    Montgomery: 1 share
    Matz: 1 share
    Cueto: 1 share
    Cease: 1 share
    McKay: 2 shares
    Sheffield: 1 share
    Ohtani: 1 share (will I ever use him as a s.p.?)
    and my last pick (#355) in my last draft on 4/15, Kopech. Still astounded that I was able to get him in the 30th round. Classic case of taking what the draft gives you.

    Don’t know what it means, but just wanted to share.

    Guess, the biggest takeaway is no Snell, Severino, Snell, Syndergaard. As well as no Verly, Max, Kershaw.
    Cloe and deGrom were my only 1st round picks, Bieber(2), Flaherty(2), Buehler were my only 2nd round picks, and Stras(2), Bieber, Clevinger were my only 3d round picks.

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