5 things we learned from MLB's opening week

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

July 27th, 2020

The 2020 MLB season is only a few games old, but some interesting storylines have already emerged. Here are five things we’ll be keeping our eyes on as this unique 60-game season progresses.

5. “Cutouts” making their presence felt

In lieu of actual people in the seats, many teams are offering fans the chance to buy a cardboard cutout to place in the stadium. In the span of only a few days, these cutouts have made their mark on various highlight shows.

It is a bizarre trend worth a laugh or two, but hopefully these cutouts will be replaced by real fans by next season.

4. Votto doesn’t look done yet

He has only played only three games, but Joey Votto appears to be having the bounce-back year he was hoping for in 2020.

In three games against the Tigers, Votto hit a pair of home runs and produced a 1.275 OPS. The 36-year-old first baseman’s production will become even more valuable if Mike Moustakas is out for a significant amount of time.

3. Marlins on the improve

The Miami Marlins no longer look like a punching bag, thanks to their newly acquired talent that helped them take two of three from the Phillies over the weekend.

Jesus Aguilar went deep twice and Corey Dickerson went 4-for-13 with a home run. Closer Brandon Kintzler was sharp in his two appearances and recorded one save. It is very unfortunate that they’re currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak among the team, which to a cancellation of Monday’s game against the Orioles.

2. COVID-19 precautions can wreak havoc on rosters

Juan Soto missed opening day with the Nationals because he tested positive for COVID-19. The next day, Braves catchers Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud did not make the trip to New York to face the Mets after “showing coronavirus symptoms” despite negative tests. That forced the Braves to call up both Alex Jackson and William Contreras from their “taxi squad.”

On Saturday, the Red Sox shut down starter Eduardo Rodriguez — who tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the start of the summer camp — for a week, after the club discovered Rodriguez had an issue with his heart, most likely myocarditis. The condition has been observed in multiple patients recovering from the virus.

We can wish all we want, but COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon and will continue to have a dramatic impact on this season.

1. Extra-inning auto-runners having desired effect

Minor-league precedent suggested putting a runner on second to begin extra innings would all but eliminate marathon extra-inning affairs during the truncated 2020 season. Things are going according to plan.

There have been four extra-inning games through Sunday, and all four were decided in the 10th inning, with a total of 12 runs coming across.

On Friday, Matt Olson hit a walk-off grand slam to carry his A’s over the Angels. On Saturday, the Braves rallied for three runs in the top of the 10th and staved off a Mets comeback attempt in the bottom half of the frame. The Royals scratched out a run on a sacrifice fly and shut down the Indians in the 10th at Progressive Field. Finally, on Sunday, the Rays gave up a run in the top of the 10th then promptly answered with two runs of their own on a rare walk-off triple by Kevin Kiermaier.