Aug. 16, 2020
The MLB season is already 1/3rd underway; who looks good and who doesn't
There's a saying about baseball in April "You can't win a pennant in April but you can certainly lose one". We didn't have April baseball and the 60 game sprint has made every game more significant. With most teams 20 games into the season we see some teams that are good as expected, some are shockingly good, some look like they are in trouble even if their record doesn't say so, and then some teams look like hot messes. Here is a list of teams to keep an eye on as the season continues based on their start with 20 games in.
Teams that are doing well as expected:
New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers;
Both the Yankees and the Dodgers were the favorites entering the season to win the World Series and so far they have played to their expectations. Both the Yankees and Dodgers have proven that they have the star power to win on any given night (both teams boast several MVP, caliber players). They have also proved that their rosters have enough depth to fill in with the injuries that have plagued all the teams in the MLB. It's very hard to say if either team has any weak links in their lineups, starting rotations, bullpens, or fielding positions. Needless to say, both the Yankees and the Dodgers are expected to continue to thrive and be on top of their respective leagues.
Surprisingly good teams:
Every year a handful of teams are overlooked before the season. This season was sure to have some sleepers considering that this season was destined to be unlike any other (it has been exactly that).
Colorado Rockies (the entire NL West);
The Colorado Rockies, as well as the rest of the National League West division, was viewed by many as a team that wouldn't compete. Last season the Rockies got off the slow start and had a massive dropoff to end the season. This season has been the complete opposite as the Rockies has been one of the hottest teams to start the season and some of their stars have been playing at an elite level in the process. Charlie Blackmon has notably been hitting with a .472 batting average, which if he keeps up would be unprecedented. The Dodgers last season were able to run away with an uncompetitive NL West, this year we see the entire division giving the Dodgers a run for their money (literally since the Dodgers are spending far and beyond more than anyone else).
The Chicago Cubs had a disappointing year that spelled doom for this season and the near future. They had a core that was beginning to age and the rest of the division seemed to pass them by. The Cubs have proven that is not the case. The Cubs have kept on winning this season, and have been under the radar but continue to be one of the best teams in the Major Leagues. It's hard to say if the Cubs will keep this hot streak continuing throughout the season since the Cubs generally have peaks and valleys in their season, however, the hot start looks promising and a move by the trade deadline can keep to momentum going and the Cubs can be one of the World Series contenders in the Fall.
If I told you that the best rotation in baseball would lose Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber, you would think that I was hallucinating. Cleveland's rotation has been far and beyond the best in baseball. Shane Beiber looks like a Cy Young caliber starter and Carlos Carrasco has been one of the best recovery stories in the game this year. The rotation did have a setback in the past week as Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger have been forced to leave to the active roster as they were out of the quarantine areas. Cleveland may only be 11-9 at the moment but expect them to be able to be a threat to win the World Series throughout the season as they have the pitching staff to do so. Cleveland also realizes the time to win is now as star shortstop Fransisco Lindor is a looking free agent that is destined to be paid, Cleveland's time is running out.
Teams that look in trouble despite their record:
New York Mets;
The Mets have been a unique story in regards to this season. The Mets are usually one of the laughing stocks every year and this year is no exception. Rather than seeing fewer follies, the Mets have found a way to compact all the craziness into the 60 game season. Already we have seen the Cespedes saga, where he opted out of the season without telling anyone. We recently saw Marcus Stroman fill his service time and then opt-out which allowed him to become a free agent at the end of the season. Jeff McNeil just crashed into the outfield wall and the fact that he didn't suffer a major injury is already an accomplishment for the Mets.
St. Louis Cardinals;
The Cardinals are in an incredibly difficult situation. After starting the season 2-3 the team had an outbreak with Covid-19. The team hasn't played in weeks and it looks to be a disastrous ending for the Cards. The Cardinals will have to play 55 games in only a few weeks, a marathon that no team can possibly manage. The Cardinals looked to be a good team before the season started but things look like they will unravel with the constant doubleheaders that are about to be placed on them.
The Houston Astros have once again been in the headlines for all the bad reasons. This off-season was the one that made the Astros public enemy number one, the cheating scandal forced them to clean house and go down as forever tainted. This season the Astros already have had a few bench-clearing incidents involving the other team having some form of beef with them. The Astros knew they were going to be hated coming into this season but they haven't helped the situation. The Astros will likely have a target on their back for the entirety of the season and it will be hard to win as the league's most hated team.
Teams that look like their season is already over:
It became clear throughout the off-season that Boston was going to rebuild. Trading Mookie Betts was only part of the rebuild and it became clear that they weren't going to compete this season. That being said, this season has gone much worse than the Boston faithful were anticipating. The starting rotation is throwing out rookies and minor league journeymen on a nightly basis as the rotation is missing Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez to injury plus David Price and Rick Porcello to off-season moves. The rotation was expecting to be bad this year but what surprises many is the lack of hitting they are getting out of their stars. It's one thing to lose of the best players in baseball in Mookie Betts but it's another to not see production from proven stars like JD Martinez, Rafael Devers, or Jackie Bradley Jr. Boston needs to start preparing for next season and consider making more trades to bring in more prospects.
Remember when the Pirates traded for Chris Archer? Who would have thought that a move like that would completely destroy an already sinking roster? In that deal, the Pirates gave up Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and prospect Shane Baz all of whom have helped or will help make the Tampa Bay Rays one of the best teams in baseball. The Pirates are a complete mess and their record speaks to it. With only 4 wins on the season so far the Pirates are in full tank mode, what makes the situation more unfortunate is that they don't have any assets to move anymore. All the stars that they had have been traded by now and for pennies on the dollar, Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen they have nowhere to go at this point but down. It will be a tough rebuild in Pittsburgh and they have to hope that they can build the prospects they get in the future drafts into stars.