CODNP Day 129: Playing Pepper With the AL Central

It’s not the superdivision that we heard rumors of early on in the planning process, but the Cards are going to stay regional and play all the AL Central teams this season.  Let’s see what their bloggers think of what’s coming up!

Team Writer Site Twitter
Chicago Samiya Green Southside Showdown miyaxxv 2020 Pepper
Cleveland Joseph Coblitz Indians Baseball Insider BurningRiverBB 2020 Pepper
Detroit Roger Castillo Motor City Bengals rogcast81 2020 Pepper
Kansas City Max Rieper Royals Review 2020 Pepper
Minnesota Cody Christie Twins Daily NoDakTwinsFan 2020 Pepper

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

Samiya: The shortened season for the White Sox is not necessarily a terrible thing because of injuries. During this time, players that wouldn’t have started the season now have the potential to start and make an impact for them. For example, Carlos Rodon had Tommy John Surgery over a year ago and was projected to come back around the All-Star game. The shorter season works in his favor because he can debut at the start of the season which is when the White Sox could use his nasty slider the most. A con to the shorter season is the White Sox having less time to show everyone they can be bet on. The schedule was released yesterday and there’s already a dark horse label on them and spring training is never enough to show off the team.

Joseph: Both. Mike Clevinger was hurt going into spring training, but is now 100% and, along with Carlos Carrasco, Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale and quite a few high end prospects nearing the big leagues, it gives the Indians not only one of the best rotations in baseball, but one able to go at least 6 men deep if that is needed with fewer off days. On the other hand, Emmanuel Clase‘s suspension will now last the entire season instead of half and it cost the team most of Francisco Lindor‘s second to last season. The early plan for him appeared to be to reassess trade options after the All-Star Break and potentially move him before his last year with the franchise, but now that option goes away and that potential value is lost.

Roger: In this case, I think in this case, it works for Detroit on a major league level. Jordan Zimmermann‘s contract finally comes off the books in a shorter period of time, the Tigers keep Miguel healthy even after his recent weight loss and a chance to find out what they have at 3rd base long term. Both Candelario and Lugo really have to state their case for the position and with prospect Issac Parades and now apparently Spencer Torkelson, who was drafted at 3rd, right behind them, they can figure who will stick. Minors wise, it really hurts the development of the current and the 2019 draft class, which I think are both unique from what typically see from the Tigers.

Max: I think the shortened season could benefit the Royals, mostly because they won’t be buried in the standings by the time August rolls around. A shortened season does bring more randomness into a pennant race, but I don’t really think the Royals will make much of a run. However, they are trying to develop young players, and I think psychologically, it will be good to avoid the long doldrums of the summer months when your team is 30 games back of the standings. This season can at least allow those players to keep up their intensity for what should be a sprint, rather than a marathon. I also think a shorter season could benefit a guy like Danny Duffy, who has had trouble staying healthy for a 162-game season, Adalberto Mondesi, who has also had an injury past and was trying to recover from a shoulder injury, and Salvador Perez, who has a lot of mileage on his knees and was trying to return after missing an entire season with an elbow injury.

Cody: Definitely against the Twins. Minnesota was built to walk through the AL Central during a 162-game season. Take 100 games off that schedule and anything can happen. Teams can get hot, pitchers can dominate, hitters can exceed expectations. Minnesota has the best team but that might not be the case with a shortened schedule. 

C70: What are you most looking forward to seeing?

Samiya: I’m mostly looking forward to seeing Luis Robert live up to the hype which is the main thing everyone will have their eyes on. A crucial part of this season is the White Sox pitching improvement because there have been some additions to build around Lucas Giolito. Dallas Keuchel is someone to watch in this revised season because he was his best last season in his first few months with the Braves. He had a 3.60 ERA Pre-All Star break. Therefore, it is not a huge worry about his game under the circumstances. Personally, I’m very interested in the White Sox’s first game against the Minnesota Twins because I took a little heat for saying they’re not much competition for them anymore. After signings were made in the offseason, it is well known that the White Sox got the upper hand. I cannot wait to see them go head to head in the first game because there isn’t much separating them anymore.

Joseph: The taxi squad idea intrigues me even as painful as it was to lose the entire MiLB season. I’m very interested in how teams will use this depth so close to home. Again, looking at pitchers, I’d like to see James Karinchak, Logan Allen and Triston McKenzie get significant big league time. While the lack of off days and short training season will likely lead to more pitchers getting into games, this could hurt players like Ka’ai Tom, Yu Chang and Christian Arroyo who would otherwise have been looking to grab some playing time as bench options.

Roger: I look forward to seeing the starting rotation, especially if Matt Boyd continues to evolve. I am hoping to see Daniel Norris take another leap forward and build off a strong second half and the return of Michael Fulmer.

Max: I will just be thrilled to see baseball being played again, but the Royals do have a few exciting prospects that could give us a glimpse of our future. In 2018, they went heavy on college pitchers in the draft, and a number of those arms have developed quickly. We should see former first-round pick Brady Singer very soon, if not at the beginning of the season, and he has a bulldog attitude that the Royals will need in their rotation. Jackson Kowar, who was his teammate at the University of Florida, will be right behind him, and could see some action later in the year. Lefty Daniel Lynch may have more upside than either, but I imagine they will bring him along a bit slower after he missed some time last year with arm soreness.

Royals fans will also want to see if Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier can keep up their sensational hitting they showed last year. Soler became the first Royals player ever to lead the league in home runs, and Dozier was among the top 25 AL hitters in OPS. The Royals will have to decide soon if either are going to be part of their long-term plans, and a strong season could make that decision easier.

Cody: Josh Donaldson in a Twins uniform. The player has been an MVP caliber hitter and defenseman throughout his career. He can single handedly carry an offensive and defensive line-up. Twins fans have longed for the team to sign a player of his caliber throughout the franchise’s existence in Minnesota. 

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

Samiya: I’m not confident that the season will finish. There have been more players being confirmed for the coronavirus then last week and I think the numbers will rise. If the season finishes, I definitely don’t have much hope for the playoffs.

Joseph: I still don’t even really believe the season will be started, but once a real game is played it seems it would be more difficult to shut it down than it has been to simply keep delaying things to this point. Assuming they start as newly scheduled, I worry about players falling victim to more injuries than normal due to being out of practice and not playing at full speed. If things make it that far, I think the playoffs would be significantly easier to work than the regular season as there will be less contact between teams. 

Roger: Every day Daniel, we see the news that players like Ian Desmond are not playing and spikes in the virus continue. I would not be surprised if we see the season stop midpoint. Playoffs…at this point, doubtful. I rather the players be safe than have a season. There is still not enough medical information to make sound decisions to handle something of this magnitude  

Max: At this point, I’m still pretty skeptical. A number of players have tested for the coronavirus around the league, and a few have opted out. So far, most of the players that we know about have been asymptomatic, but around the country we are starting to see younger people suffer severe symptoms at a higher rate than before. I think baseball has a lot invested in making sure the season is completed and a post-season is played, but I hope player safety is not compromised. It will be a tricky road to navigate, and you hope those making the decisions will have player safety at heart. We are in uncharted waters and everyone will have to make decisions with huge impact based on very little knowledge since this virus is so new, so I don’t envy anyone in that position. 

Cody: Unfortunately, I doubt either will happen in their entirety. One or two teams will have multiple positive tests and the entire season will be shut down. For Twins fans, it feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy because this is the year the team could take out the Yankees in the playoffs and the postseason might not even happen.

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