July 30, 2020 at 12:04 am #123925Participant
The season is now three or four games old, and what have we learned?
Honestly, not a lot. Even in a shortened season, it’s difficult to draw a ton of conclusions with regard to how the standings look with just a smattering of games in the books. We know each win in a 60-game season is equal to around 2.7 in a typical 162-game campaign. We know the Tigers had a very good weekend, much to the Reds’ chagrin, and the Orioles are heading into the new workweek in a dead heat with the Yankees and Rays for first place in the American League East division. We also know Nelson Cruz is on pace for 200 RBIs.
In a year where nothing is normal Mike Piazza Dodgers Jersey, we embrace the weird. Cardboard cutouts. Piped-in crowd noise. Socially distanced mascot races. Touch-free high-fives. Anthony Rizzo greeting opposing baserunners with an offering of hand sanitizer. Managers and umpires masking up before they start arguing. It’ll be a year unlike any other, but it won’t be lacking in intrigue.
Here’s one thing that hasn’t changed our weekly Power Rankings! Let’s dive in …
Biggest jump: The Padres jumped three spots, from No. 19 to No. 16. With a 16-team playoff field this year, it’s not hard to envision San Diego sneaking in. They had a nice start to the season, taking two of three from the D-backs. It’s notable that Garrett Richards, now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, threw five shutout innings in San Diego’s loss to the D-backs on Sunday.
Biggest drop: The Astros dropped four spots, from No. 3 to No. 7. That fall is directly related to the news that Justin Verlander has a right forearm strain and is going to be out for a while. The Astros are playing it conservatively for now, saying the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner will be sidelined for two weeks, at which time he’ll be reevaluated. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for an Astros pitching staff whose depth was already a little thin.
Power Rankings Top 5:
1) Dodgers (1 last week)
Veteran ace Clayton Kershaw Sandy Koufax Jersey, who was scratched from pitching Opening Day when his back stiffened up, told reporters recently that he is confident he won’t need more than the minimum 10 days on the injured list before returning to the rotation. Meanwhile, his replacement, Dustin May, pitched well in his season debut one run over 4 1/3 innings on Opening Day vs. the Giants and is in line to face the Astros on Tuesday. The Dodgers’ bullpen has also been a bright spot. In a four-game series against San Francisco, Dodgers relievers gave up four runs over 17 2/3 innings. Aaron Boone’s savages had a good weekend, taking two of three from the World Series champion Nationals in Washington, D.C. Giancarlo Stanton had a monstrous weekend, including a 483-foot home run during the Yankees’ loss Saturday. That homer clocked in with an exit velocity of 121.3 mph, registering as the second hardest-hit by anyone since Statcast started tracking such data. It was behind only … well, Stanton, whose 121.7 mph exit velo on a homer he hit Aug. 9, 2018, is a tick faster. Kenta Maeda, one of the Twins’ most significant offseason acquisitions, performed well in his debut Sunday, allowing two runs over five innings with a walk and six strikeouts in the Twins’ 14-2 win over the White Sox. Offensively, Cruz is on an absolute tear to open 2020. Including a two-homer, seven-RBI performance on Sunday, the veteran slugger is batting .538 over the first three games of the season. He already has 10 RBIs. Also, you’re going to hear this repeated a few dozen times over the course of the year Cruz is 40 years old. The Rays took two of three over the Blue Jays, capping the series with a 6-5 win in 10 innings Sunday. Ji-Man Choi has had a nice start, reaching base in five of 10 plate appearances with three walks in the final two games with Toronto. He also led off all three games of the series Cody Bellinger Youth Jersey. The Braves dropped the season opener to the Mets, 1-0, but since then, Atlanta’s offense has come alive, scoring 19 runs over the past two games (including 14 on Sunday). Dansby Swanson is off to a hot start, going 5-for-12 with six RBIs in the three-game series with the Mets.
It’s still 2020 and nothing is certain, as the Dodgers were reminded when they lost their second consecutive game to the rebuilding Giants Sunday night, 3-1.
The Dodgers fly to Houston Monday to deal with coronavirus protocols on the road for the first time. On the field, they will need to up their game Tuesday and Wednesday when they face the Astros, who won 107 games last year and beat the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, then were disciplined for stealing signs.
The only thing the Dodgers stole on Sunday was second base by Mookie Betts, who then scored their only run in the third inning on a Cody Bellinger RBI single. It was welcome production by the pair of MVPs, but after opening the season with a pair of blowout wins, the Dodgers finished the four-game series with a disappointing split against a San Francisco team with low expectations.
The Dodgers stranded 10 runners in the game and 42 in the series.
“You just have to give credit to those guys Mookie Betts Dodgers Jersey. They matched up really well,” said manager Dave Roberts. “You’re seeing a different guy every at-bat and they made pitches when they needed to. But offensively, we’re going to be alright.”
Kershaw begins throwing to test back injury
The Dodgers even had a chance to pull off one of their late-inning magic acts with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Enrique Hernández grounded out against submarine right-hander Tyler Rogers.
Roberts said he was comfortable letting Hernández bat righty vs. righty, despite having left-handed hitters Joc Pederson and Edwin Ríos on the bench.
“Rogers is very neutral [against right-handers or left-handers],” Roberts said. “They started that innings against [Max] Muncy, [Justin] Turner and Bellinger, so that’s speaking to the fact that he’s pretty neutral. And it was the third time in four nights that Kiké’s seen him, so I thought familiarity would benefit us, as he got a hit off him the first time.”
In his first start of the year, Julio Urías had to work at it, but kept the game in check. He lasted five innings, walked three and allowed three leadoff batters to reach base, but kept the damage to one run and left a 1-1 tie.
“I struggled with my first pitch Jackie Robinson Dodgers Jersey, and that’s usually something I attack with and I wasn’t able to execute that,” said Urías. “Later on I was able to adjust.” Relievers Brusdar Graterol and Adam Kolarek allowed the tiebreaking run in the sixth inning, Pedro Báez was touched for an insurance run in the seventh and the vaunted Dodgers offense, even with a designated hitter, sputtered for a second consecutive game.
Urías gave the Giants a free run in the third inning. He was late covering first on Mauricio Dubón’s infield single, he walked Mike Yastrzemski to put Dubón in scoring position and with one out paid the price with a seeing-eye RBI single to left field by Darin Ruf, the former Dodgers Minor Leaguer who spent the last three seasons playing in Korea. Landon Knack looked forward to the 2019 Draft. He went unselected after starring on a Junior College World Series runner-up team at Walters State (Tenn.) the previous June, but after transferring to East Tennessee State for his redshirt junior year, he performed well against better competition and added some velocity at the end of the season.
Knack knew he wasn’t getting picked on day one, which featured the first two rounds, but figured he might go on day two (rounds three through 10) and almost certainly would on day three (rounds 11-40). He constantly monitored the Draft results on his phone, watching as 1,139 names were called none of them his.
Rather than get mad, Knack decided to get better. He transformed his body and stuff and became the best fifth-year senior prospect in recent memory. The Dodgers not only took him in the second round of the 2020 Draft, they also added him to their 60-man list, and he’s currently working out at their alternative camp at the University of Southern California.
“As soon as it came and went, when I realized that just pitchability wasn’t going to get me there, I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to make myself the best that I can,'” Knack said. “I’m going to go for velo and I’m going to fix some little things with my body. I was in better shape than I had been at Walters, but I still wasn’t a great-body guy, so I worked the entire summer with our staff over there and gained a ton of strength.
“Over the course of that summer, I cleaned up some things and really started taking sleep, nutrition, everything extremely seriously. And then when I started throwing again at the end of that summer and going into the fall, I started to basically just try to focus on just throwing with as much intent as I could, just trying to throw it as hard as I could and just using that little bit of pissed-off edge from watching the entire Draft go by.”
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