CODNP Day 128: Playing Pepper With the NL West

No late nights, trying to keep your eyes open to see the seventh inning of a Cardinals/Dodgers game in Los Angeles.  While there’s some novelty to those games (and Twitter can get fun and weird in them), I don’t think many of us are going to miss them this year.  Let’s see what these folks have to say!

Team Writer Site Twitter
Arizona Jeff Wiser Baseball Prospectus OutfieldGrass24 2020 Pepper
Colorado Kevin Henry Rox Pile Rox_Coverage 2020 Pepper
Los Angeles Scott Andes LA Dodger Report LAdodgerreport 2020 Pepper
San Diego Scott Dunsmore The Kept Faith GhostofRAK 2020 Pepper
San Francisco Richard Dyer The Giants Cove 2020 Pepper

C70: Does the shortened season work for or against your team?

Jeff: Push. If we look at how the D-backs were expected to finish over a 162-game season, they were going to be in the mix for the playoffs but narrowly on the periphery. A 60-game season introduces a lot more uncertainty and that can break either way for the D-backs. But the D-backs were already on the bubble, so a topsy-turvy season doesn’t change a lot for them in my eyes. They won’t get the full benefit of some of the depth they added over the winter, but they weren’t going to be able to run down the Dodgers with that depth anyway. The middle of the National League was always going to be a messy melee and I don’t feel like the shortened season changes that very much. 

Kevin: The Rockies have been good in short bursts to start the season in years past. Playing a condensed schedule could benefit them, but that absolutely depends on if the front three of their rotation (Jon Gray, German Marquez, and Kyle Freeland) start hot and stay that way. Colorado’s fourth and fifth starting spots aren’t as strong, so the Rockies will need the big three to come through in a big way if there’s a chance of them making the postseason.

Scott A: I think the shortened season works more against teams with less depth. The Dodgers have outstanding depth, especially on the position player side. I do think that overall the short season puts all 30 clubs in the same boat. Getting off to a good start is super important. Getting off to a poor start could sink a team’s season. Of course teams with more players on the Covid-19 list are at a distinct disadvantage than the healthier virus free teams. This isn’t like a normal season where you would have enough time to recover from a slow start. The Dodgers are notoriously slow starters, and then flip the switch during the summer weeks, so we’ll see how it goes for them. 

Scott D: I don’t know a team that won’t benefit from a shortened season. The only issue is how much of an insurmountable lead the Dodgers start out of the gate with, because the rest of the NL West is playing for second. And I’m not too proud to admit that.

Every game is now more or less the equivalent of a three game series. So if you lose one game, you were just swept. That’s going to increase the stakes for every team.

Richard: The 60-game 2020 season definitely affects all MLB teams in different ways. For rebuilding teams like the San Francisco Giants, it couldn’t happen at a worse time.

For teams depending on future prospects, player development is everything. With the minor leagues shut down, organizations on the rebuild have lost an entire season of dedicated instruction for their prospects, which can potentially be career altering. And despite big league rosters being expanded, there just won’t be enough slots open, instruction time, or innings available to remotely offset that.

C70: What are you most looking forward to seeing?

Jeff: The Marte Par-tay, hands down. Ketel Marte is the most impactful player in a D-backs uniform and the recently-added Starling Marte isn’t far behind. For those unaware, Starling Marte’s wife passed away tragically this offseason from a sudden heart attack. It’s unfathomable the amount of pain, stress, and anguish that Starling must be dealing with as he navigates a new world with his children. It’s entirely unfair for me to project how he’s feeling, but in a recent interview, he mentioned his eagerness to get back out on the field. If he’s ready, then the Diamondbacks faithful will surely be ready to cheer him on. Hopefully Ketel and Starling will hit next to each other in the lineup and the Marte Par-tay leads the D-backs’ offense. Those two will be a boatload of fun together! 

Kevin: Nolan Arenado. We’ve already missed at least 102 games of the guy’s career by not having a full schedule this year. For a Hall of Fame third baseman and one that will go down as one of the best to ever play the hot corner, that’s a travesty. Any chance we get to see Arenado patrol third base, it’s a day that could produce another highlight-worthy play.

Scott A: I’m most looking forward to seeing some baseball played. I’m happy that we’re going to actually play a season this year. I miss the Dodgers, I miss baseball. I am looking forward to seeing Cody Bellinger‘s continued evolution into one of baseball’s most complete players. I’m looking forward to seeing Clayton Kershaw inching further towards a Hall of Fame election, and I am looking forward to seeing a lot of the Dodgers hot young rookies showcasing their talents. With pitching a bit thin this year, the Dodgers are going to have to rely on most of their young pitchers, especially with David Price opting out. Dustin May, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, and Brusdar Graterol (the flame thrower acquired from the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade) could all play huge rolls with the big club this season. Muncy bombs, Turner clutch hits, California Love, Buehler Day ons, everything. Of course I am looking forward to seeing Mookie Betts, even if it’s only for 60 games. Most of all I am looking forward to the Dodgers finally winning a World Series. Maybe this is the year it happens. It would figure to be the year to happen without fans in the stands. Dodger fans deserve to watch that glorious moment in person at beautiful Dodger stadium more than any other fans in the game. I’m hoping the Coronavirus doesn’t rob us of that.

Scott D: A single game. Seriously, if the Padres even get to play a single game, I’ll consider the 2020 season to be an overwhelming success. I don’t even care about the outcome of that single game. As I type this sentence, the Giants have suspended their summer camp, pending delayed test results. It’s been just one week. A WEEK.

Having said that, seeing some actual live baseball being played on TV that isn’t coming from Korea at 2:30 in the morning is what I’m most looking forward to. “I want to see how Luis Patiño and/or MacKenzie Gore do” really doesn’t mean much in a 60 game season.

Richard: The idea that because the season is reduced “anything can happen” is a myth. Why would talented, deep-roster MLB organizations do any worse in a 60-game season than they would do in a full season? Fans who believe it’s all about luck have no idea how different the playing field is for deeply talented, highly organized and well-constructed franchises.

The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland As, Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros, and Atlanta Braves are among the elite teams in the game and should be favored to make the 2020 playoffs. And that’s what I’m looking forward to.

If anyone really thinks the Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins, or Kansas City Royals have a chance to be competitive simply because it’s a 60-game season, it may be time to either reduce or increase your major medications.

C70: Do you believe the season will be fully completed? How about the playoffs?

Jeff: I think the season will be completed along with the playoffs. That isn’t necessarily an endorsement for starting and running a full season, but an acknowledgement of the power of money. Whether MLB recognizes it or not, they’ve lost a little bit of leverage in my eyes as it pertains to the next CBA. They’ll grab whatever cash they can now and go to the lengths necessary to make it happen. I’ll just leave it there and step down from my little soap box. Be smart and stay safe, everyone. 

Kevin: Call me crazy, but I do. I think there will be a lot of players who will miss portions of the season, but I still think baseball gets its condensed regular season and postseason in. I have faith that MLB and the players can stay just enough ahead of the virus to make a season happen.

Scott A: Honestly? No I don’t. Now maybe if you ask me that question in August or September my opinion might change. If the curve flattens by then, I would give you a different answer. But with cases spiking all over the country, lockdowns and shelter in place orders lifted, and the very large possibility of a second wave hitting in the fall, I don’t think we’ll see any sports finishing a season this year. All I can do is hope, like a lot of other people. Baseball gives us an outlet to forget our problems. Baseball is not just a sport, but it’s our country’s national pastime. Baseball is the story of the United States and nothing would help lift our morale then seeing baseball and the World Series played in 2020. I hope we can see baseball uniting everyone and providing hope in this time of crisis. Go Blue.

Scott D: Oh, it’s going to be cancelled by the halfway point, at the latest. I can’t see a way they don’t end up with multiple players opting out or contracting COVID-19 on every team after they start the season. MLB is too desperate to get some sort of season in yet took their sweet time coming to an agreement with the players. They’re not doing like the NBA and keeping everyone in a (metaphorical) bubble, not that that’s going to make any sort of difference.

As for the playoffs?

Richard: The wild card here (beyond the Wild Card teams) is to what extent COVID-19 debilitates Major League Baseball after the July 23rd Opening Day. So far, the number of MLB players infected by the virus is well below the national average. But the rest of the United States has more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 than any other country in the world. So if the pandemic ends up sweeping through the Major Leagues, the game will certainly be shut down. But if the strict guidelines put out by MLB via the Centers for Disease Control are vigorously enforced, baseball just might make it through the playoffs.

Contrary to the pap put out by the White House, after five months of the COVID-19 epidemic there continues to be severe problems with enough testing and timely results. That’s why people are currently sitting in cars in Florida and Texas for 6 hours waiting in line to be COVID tested. Apparently, MLB players are getting testing and testing result preference so that should help keep the season rolling.

Bottom line, let’s hope the country and MLB can find a way to effectively put a lid on this pandemic and stop all American infections and deaths.

Series Navigation<< CODNP Day 127: Playing Pepper With the AL WestCODNP Day 129: Playing Pepper With the AL Central >>

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