The Ten: Top 10 Storylines to Follow This Week

All the stories you need to follow this week in the MLB.

Welcome back to another edition of The Ten. It’s trade deadline week in the MLB, and we’re getting a clearer picture of our sellers and buyers as the 2020 playoffs loom. Speaking of playoffs, we may have a clearer picture of just what that will entail this season as the “bubble” format takes shape. Injuries are also still piling up around the league, unfortunately, and we’ll see how each team will deal with their issues in the final few weeks. Let’s get into it, shall we?


1. Choosing not to play

After a week that was rife with postponements across all sports in the US, we saw plenty of MLB teams choosing to sit out instead of taking the field this week. The NBA was the first to make a move, making the league take a pause on the league’s playoffs in order to stand in solidarity with protesters who were advocating against police brutality after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. Multiple MLB teams followed suit and sat out of play.

Going forward, it’s hard to say whether or not we will see more postponements. In an already-shortened season that has seen a ton of COVID-related postponements as well as your run-of-the-mill weather delays, there are going to be plenty of doubleheaders and very few off days in the last few weeks of the season. While I don’t anticipate more teams to sit out, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if more teams continue to utilize their platform to make a statement. Sports are a luxury, and we may have been taking them for granted.


2. MLBPA receives playoff proposal

According to a report from the New York Post, the players union has received a proposal from the league detailing the playoff “bubble” and how it will operate in the 2020 postseason. While the details are still anyone’s guess, it seems likely that MLB will follow the model of the NHL and keep the playoffs restricted to two or possibly three cities. Early fall baseball makes it likely that we could see a California, Florida, or Texas two-city arrangement, but a domed setup in, say, Milwaukee and Seattle could be on the table as well.

In theory, limiting travel for all teams would help prevent the spread of COVID and would mitigate any necessary pauses to the season. While we have already seen multiple teams have outbreaks this year, it would behoove both the players’ union and the league to finalize the playbook of this proposal as soon as possible. Hopefully this week we will see more details come to light.


3. Walker Buehler hits the IL

The Dodgers have been an absolute powerhouse so far in the shortened 2020, racking up an MLB-best 26 wins and .722 winning %. Even the red-hot Padres are still a full five games back of the NL West crown. It was announced earlier this week that Walker Buehler would be on the shelf for a bit due to a blister on his throwing hand.

While the team has stated it does not anticipate Buehler to be out for long, they know all too well how blisters can be a lingering issue. Rich Hill spent many a start on the IL for the Dodgers with blisters, and they’ll have to be careful with Buehler as rushing him back could aggravate the issue. It hasn’t been an elite 2020 for the right-hander so far, throwing 25 innings of 4.32 ERA ball across five starts, but any time out of action for a young pitcher like Buehler will hurt the Dodgers. We’ll see if we can get any more details on Buehler’s progress in the coming days.


4. Jays’ rotation gets a shot in the arm

After said to be “extremely active” on the trade market, the Toronto Blue Jays acquired Mariners righty Taijuan Walker on Thursday, adding some much-needed arms behind Hyun-Jin Ryu. Offseason addition Chase Anderson has been solid in his 4 starts, but fellow newcomer Matt Shoemaker and prized prospect Nate Pearson have both hit the IL. Only one game back of the sputtering Yankees, the Blue Jays have a very realistic playoff picture in mind.

Walker has pitched quite well in 2020 after only making four starts between the 2018-2019 seasons in Arizona. Back in Seattle this year, he made five starts for 27 innings and a 4.00 ERA. In his Blue Jays debut, he went six scoreless with four strikeouts. With Miami and Boston on the schedule this coming week, we’ll see if Taijuan and the Jays can cement themselves into the playoff picture.


5. Salvador Perez still not improving

After testing positive for COVID-19 back in early July, Royals catcher Salvador Perez hit the IL back on August 21st with what was described as an “eye issue.” We have since learned that the issue is a fluid-filled particle in his left eye. While the ailment is not considered serious, it will sideline Perez for a while. As of this past Friday, manager Mike Matheny could not even estimate when Perez could return.

Perez is no stranger to the injured list, spending time on the shelf in early 2018 after a freak knee injury, and missing all of last season after UCL surgery. Perez will be a free agent after next season, and given his propensity for injuries, it will be interesting to see how the Royals approach a possible reunion with one of their most popular players. As for the time being, we’ll look to get a clearer picture of how this eye condition will keep him sidelined.


6. The return of the king

In more encouraging injury news, we may soon see a return to action for the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. Justin Verlander went down at the beginning of the 2020 season with a forearm issue after only 1 start. The dreaded Tommy John moniker was being thrown about in the rumor mill, but Verlander himself disputed those reports, despite the poor prognosis of his injury.

Well, he may have been right after all, as it was reported a few days ago that the Astros’ ace could return this season. Verlander has reportedly been throwing short bullpen sessions and has felt good doing so, and boy do the Astros miss him. The team has looked to Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers in his stead after also losing Gerrit Cole to free agency. And while Greinke may be having another great year in his age-36 season, the reigning AL champs are going to need all the help they can get to topple the division-leading Oakland A’s. Let’s see if Verlander can up his throwing program this week.


7. Cohen stands alone

It wouldn’t be a week of recaps without mentioning the Mets, right? Well, the deadline for bids to purchase the team has come, and it appears that the main competition for Steve Cohen in the Alex Rodriguez/Jennifer Lopez-led team had bowed out of contention. That leaves us, well right where we were back in February with billionaire Steve Cohen as the main suitor to take the team out of the Wilpons’ hands.

The much-maligned Wilpons have drawn ire from their fanbase for years now, as they’ve consistently been very “hands-on” owners who frequently meddle in baseball operations. Second-year GM Brodie Van Wagenen, who was billed as a change of pace from the Mets’ status quo, is still reeling from the fallout of opt-outs from Yoenis Céspedes and Marcus Stroman, as well as the trade that shipped out young outfielder Jarred Kelenic to Seattle. In any case, Cohen seems like a breath of fresh air for the Mets, and while a deal most likely won’t get done this week, it will certainly be interesting to track the negotiations once again.


8. In the lap of Lux-ury

After playing the role of “29th man” for the Dodgers in their doubleheader last week, star prospect Gavin Lux has seemingly gotten his call to the bigs. With Justin Turner currently dealing with a hamstring issue, the stars could finally align to see the infielder get some regular playing time at the big-league level.

Lux was the favorite to win the second base job out of Summer Camp, but the top prospect was surprisingly sent to the alternate site to start the season. It’s still a crowded infield with Corey Seager, Enrique Hernández, Max Muncy, and Chris Taylor all vying for at-bats, but the universal DH and a possible IL stint for Turner could mean a regular job for Lux. He has only gone 2-for-11 in his three games so far, but Lux has top prospect pedigree and could be a boon for an already strong Dodgers team.


9. No longer LA-Stella

After signing third baseman Anthony Rendon this offseason, the LA Angels were poised to make a run at the AL West. With Rendon, Shohei Ohtani, and Mike Trout, the Angels boasted one of the best middle batting orders in the league. Coupled with players like Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons, and Tommy La Stella, the Angels were finally looking like they could give Trout the postseason he deserves.

But things have gone, well, sub-par for the Halos. At 12-23, the Angels are owners of the worst record in the American League and the second-worst record overall. In what should have been a competitive year, the Angels instead pivoted and sold at the trade deadline, shipping out infielder Tommy La Stella to Oakland in return for Franklin Barreto. La Stella has enjoyed something of a career renaissance lately, posting a .295/.346/.486 batting line with 16 home runs in 2019. A solid hitter who can play multiple infield positions, La Stella is another boost for the AL West-leading Oakland A’s who currently sit at 22-12 (.647 W%).


10. The Padres are loading up

The A’s aren’t the only California team that’s gaining steam at the deadline. The San Diego Padres have been very active this year, acquiring multiple players including Mitch Moreland from the Red Sox, Jason Castro from the Angels, and multiple players including catcher/infielder Austin Nola from the Mariners. The Padres have also reportedly been in talks regarding Rangers’ outfielder Joey Gallo and Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger. Needless to say, it seems like the Friars are going all in.

Although they are still currently five games back of the Dodgers, the Padres are very much in the hunt for 2020. They are the proud owners of the third-best record in the National League, and the additions of Moreland, Castro, and Nola will only increase their chances of competition this season. After three games against the struggling Rockies and Angels, a crucial weekend series against the formidable Oakland Athletics is on the docket for the coming weekend.


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Liam Casey

Liam is a lifelong Yankee fan currently residing in Long Island, NY with his fiancee and their 2 dogs.

One response to “The Ten: Top 10 Storylines to Follow This Week”

  1. Rocket says:

    #10 “The Padres are loading up” – They are running circles around their competitors with the moves they have made. The thing I am most impressed with is not just the quality they have added to their team but a tremendous desire to improve their weaknesses across the board. For example, adding Austin Nola at catcher is one of the better under the radar moves I have seen. Nola is really breaking out this year offensively but he also versatility to play other positions on the infield. He also offers a RH bat at DH to pair with Mitch Moreland when he is not catching. The Clev trade will pay dividends beyond this year acquiring one of MLB’s top young arms. Nice additions to bolster their bull pen as well. There was not a lot of talk out of the Padres camp during the trade deadline period, just action. Respect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login