Updated at 1:54 p.m. ET
The Philadelphia Phillies announced today that a member of their coaching staff and a member of the home clubhouse staff have each tested positive for COVID-19. The team has shut down all activities at Citizens Bank Park today until further notice.
No Phillies players have tested positive since the team hosted the Marlins in a three-game series during Opening Weekend. The Marlins are up to 17 positive cases now, and spent the weekend in Citizens Bank Park.
Due to the outbreak within the Marlins organization, their home series against Baltimore and Washington were cancelled this week. The Phillies were supposed to host the New York Yankees in Philadelphia this week, but that series was cancelled as well.
The Phillies were supposed to be back in action on Saturday, playing a doubleheader against the Blue Jays in Philadelphia. Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said this afternoon that series has been postponed, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.
Now it seems as if the Phillies will be off at least through the weekend, while the Blue Jays are scrambling to figure out their next steps.
While it's good news that no players have tested positive, the team is being cautious now that two members of the staff have tested positive. I'm no epidemiologist and I certainly don't know much about medicine, but due to the unusually long incubation period of this virus, it could be possible that it was spread to the Phillies players and just hasn't been detected yet.
Obviously, I hope that's not the case, but with the situation MLB is in, I think they have to be as cautious as they can, and keep up the testing until they are absolutely sure that there are no positive cases within the Phillies' roster. If we end up with another outbreak like the Marlins, it could derail the entire season.
Following last night's incident between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly and manager Dave Roberts have each received suspensions from MLB. Kelly's suspension is for eight games, which he will appeal. Robert will serve a one-game suspension during tonight's game at Houston.
Astros' manager Dusty Baker received a fine for the incident.
The hard feelings between Los Angeles and Houston obviously stem from the Astros' sign-stealing scandal during the 2017 season. The Astros beat the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, although there's conflicting evidence on whether the team was stealing signs during the Series.
In last night's game, Kelly - who was not a member of the Dodgers during the 2017 season - threw multiple pitches high and inside at Astros' batters, including one that sailed behind Alex Bregman's head on a 3-0 count. After he struck out Carlos Correa later in the same inning, Kelly and Correa had words for each other, which ultimately resulted in a benches-clearing...incident.
It's not really a fight or a brawl, especially with social distancing in place, but it was an exciting moment in the game. Here's a complete breakdown of everything that happened between Kelly and the Astros.
The actions here seem to warrant a suspension, but eight games might be a little much. Ken Rosenthal pointed out that eight games in a 60-game season is equivalent to 22 games in a 162-game season. That's a little harsh.
Pretty much everyone expected this kind of thing to happen between the Dodgers and Astros, and in a normal year we'd probably get an actual fight. Of course, it'd be nice to have fans in the stadium as well during these tense games, but we'll have to take what we can get.
Veteran outfielder Nick Markakis is opting back into the 2020 season and rejoining the Atlanta Braves for the remainder of the year, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Markakis opted out of the 2020 season in early July following the news that four Braves players, including All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman had tested positive for COVID-19.
The Braves also tweeted this afternoon that catcher Tyler Flowers and Travis d'Arnaud are rejoining the team after being reinstated off the Injured List.
The addition of Markakis and the two catchers will give the Braves added depth throughout the rest of the season, which is especially helpful in this strange, shortened season.
Markakis is a career .288 hitter with 1,031 RBIs. He's been a productive outfielder for the Braves in his five years in Atlanta, becoming an All-Star for the first time in 2018. He's hit .284/.358/.424 in his time with the Braves and has been extremely durable, playing at least 156 games in all but one season.
Catcher Alex Jackson and William Contreras have filled in nicely for Flowers and d'Arnaud for the first five games of the season, but it will be good for the Braves to get their regular catchers back with the team.
Atlanta has started the season 2-3, winning two games against the Mets to begin the season before dropping back-to-back games against Tampa Bay this week. They head to Atlanta for the home opener tonight against the Rays, and having their veterans back should be helpful in these next two games.
When you sign a baseball-sized contract, it makes sense to get into the baseball business. After Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes signed his 10 year, $503 million contract, the Kansas City Royals announced today that Mahomes is joining their ownership group.
"The Kansas City Royals today welcomed the newest member of the team's ownership group, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes," the Royals statement reads.
"We are very proud and excited to have Patrick as our partner in the ownership group of this franchise," said John Sherman, Chairman and CEO, and principal owner. "Along with the rest of Kansas City, I have watched Patrick compete and become an extraordinary leader, both on and off the football field."
Mahomes has a history with baseball. His father pitched in the Major Leagues from 1993 to 2002. Mahomes was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 2014 MLB draft, but decided to pursue football instead.
The choice seems to have worked out for him, as the 24-year-old has already become an NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion, in addition to signing a record-breaking contract.
The fallout of the Miami Marlins COVID-19 outbreak continues as a majority of Washington Nationals players have voted not to travel to Miami for this weekend's series against the Marlins. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported the news this afternoon.
While the Nationals' players have decided not to travel, Major League Baseball will end up making the decision on whether or not the games are played in Miami.
The league's health protocols for this season do not allow players or teams to make those decisions individually, although if the players are unwilling to travel, it's unclear how that situation would play out.
Over the past two days, it's become increasingly clear that the health protocols that MLB adopted for this season are inadequate. There is no threshold for how many players must test positive before the season is cancelled. That decision rests solely with commissioner Rob Manfred.
The Marlins are reportedly up to 17 positive tests now, which has resulted in the postponement of their games against the Baltimore Orioles yesterday and today. The Philadelphia Phillies have also postponed their games against the New York Yankees yesterday and today, out of an abundance of caution after the Marlins spent the weekend in Philadelphia.
On an optimistic note, the Phillies have not recorded any positive tests since their series against the Marlins. A Phillies' visiting clubhouse attendant did test positive, but it was from a prior round of testing.
Updated at 10:41 a.m.
Well I hope you all enjoyed the first weekend of the 2020 MLB season, because it looks like it's downhill from here. The Miami Marlins' home opener against the Baltimore Orioles tonight has been cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreak in the Marlins' clubhouse.
Reports came out yesterday that four Marlins players had tested positive. Now this morning before the team was able to travel back to Miami, multiple reports came out that as many as 14 players and coaches had tested positive.
Where do we go from here?
No one is quite sure. Is the whole series cancelled or just tonight's game? Will they make up the series or is it just cancelled altogether?
The league also has to think about how far this could go. The Marlins just finished up a series against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The New York Yankees are supposed to start a series there tonight. Should they Yankees skip out on that series out of cautiousness and not wanting to be in the same clubhouse the Marlins just spent the weekend in?
According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, that's exactly what they'll do as he is reporting that tonight's game between the Yankees and Phillies has now been cancelled.
Everyone knew that some kind of outbreak was bound to happen at some point, but this early in the season was unexpected. MLB was extremely ambitious in trying to play its season at home ballparks and with travel. The NHL and NBA have adopted hub cities and bubble approaches, something that the MLB should have considered a little more seriously before going ahead with the 2020 season.
We'll have to wait and see what happens next, but it's not looking promising for MLB.
The 2020 MLB season is just a few days old, but it's time to update our Power Rankings. The first weekend of games doesn't give us a whole lot to go off of, but it is enough to get a look at how each team is really looking this season.
Each week we'll have a special guest picker give us their top 10 teams as well. This week's guest is Nathan Brennan, producer of ESPN Blacksburg's The Drive.
1. Yankees (2-1)
While a 2-1 record with a -3 run differential may not strike you as worthy of the number one spot in a power ranking, it is still difficult to put any other team in this spot. After a dominant performance by newly acquired Gerrit Cole in a rain delayed opening night, and a couple of moon shots by now healthy Giancarlo Stanton, it seems this team could back up the hype. Winning a series in baseball is never a simple feat, especially one against the reigning World Series champions, and the undisputed best starting rotation in baseball. If the likes of Judge, Stanton and Torres can all continue their hot start from the plate, I see no reason this team will ever leave the top spot.
2. Dodgers (2-2)
I will admit I am SLIGHTLY concerned about dropping the back half of a home series against the lowly Giants. But ultimately this team is still one of the most well rounded teams in baseball, and boasts a run differential of +12 in their first 4 games. The two former MVPs in Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts seem they haven’t quite found their stride yet, and this could possibly play into the second half of the series collapse. A solid outing from Ross Stripling gives me confidence that the starting rotation should hold down the fort until the return of former Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. The upcoming series against the Astros will give us a good indication of where this team is truly headed.
3. Astros (2-1)
If it wasn’t for an 8th inning collapse Sunday night against the Mariners, this would be the lone undefeated team in baseball. The potential loss of Justin Verlander for the rest of the season, on top of the departure of Gerrit Cole to AL East foe New York Yankees, could pose problems for the once dominant rotation moving forward. Regardless, the lineup hit for a combined .290 with three homeruns, and 21 RBIs… in THREE games. The lineup has not skipped a beat, and if the starting rotation can continue to be adequate while they wait for Verlander’s return, we could very well see the Astros in the World Series again.
4. Braves (2-1)
I will admit, this simply could just be a knee jerk reaction after the BEATING to the Mets Sunday night, but a 14-1 win against any team in the majors is eye opening. After being shut out in game one to the New York Mets, the Braves responded with a 5-3 win, followed by a 14-1 beating, including 17 hits. While the normal punishers in Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman are all hitting sub .200, it is the likes of Marcell Ozuna and former number one pick Dansby Swanson lighting up the stat sheet. If this lineup continues to run this deep, it could become a serious issue for the already loaded NL East.
5. Rays (2-1)
Now I mean no disrespect to the Blue Jays here, I was actually fairly impressed with them (I will get to that later.) However, when your starting pitchers throw a max of five innings, it really shows you how exceptional this Rays pitching staff is. Cy Young hopefuls Charlie Morton and Blake Snell threw four and three innings respectively, before being pulled to let the Rays bullpen do what they do. This is a very similar strategy from last season, and in just 60 games I feel the Rays will begin to reap the benefits come midseason. A walk off from outfielder Kevin Kiermaier in the rubber match should give this lineup some confidence heading into a crucially important series with the team directly above, the Atlanta Braves.
6. Cubs (2-1)
Similar to the Braves, this very well could be just another knee jerk reaction. After a complete game shutout by Kyle Hendricks in game one, the bullpen completely collapsed in the second game of the series. The bullpen is going to be a major issue for the Cubs moving forward, but the hope is the starters can provide enough quality innings to reach closer Craig Kimbrel. Going into the rubber match against the Brewers, the Cubs put on a manufacturing clinic, winning 9-1. A hot start from Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber should help lead the lineup along until former NL MVP Kris Bryant gets his bat warmed up. This team still has the pieces from that magical 2016 World Series run, and winning a series against teams in the NL Central will be crucial in arguably the most difficult division in baseball.
7. Twins (2-1)
I will say, I was buying the White Sox going into this season. But the way the Twins took care of them this weekend could either be an indication that the White Sox aren’t as good, or the Twins are just that good. I am leaning toward the latter conclusion. Following a 10-3 loss in the second game of the series, it appeared the rubber match would ultimately decide my opinion on the Twins. They won 14-2. Nelson Cruz is absolutely smoking at the plate, with three home runs, and 10 RBIs on this young season. I am a bit concerned with the longevity of the pitching rotation, but if the already convincing lineup from a season ago can continue this type of production, I see no reason to count this small market team out of World Series contention.
8. Athletics (2-1)
Not the flashiest names or the flashiest plays, but the Athletics are for real. After winning 97 games last season, it would appear the A’s have picked up right where they left off. Former MVP frontrunner Matt Chapman may have started off cold, but the rest of the lineup of unfamiliar names manufactured runs the normal way that they do. Starting pitchers Mike Fiers and Sean Manaea struggled in their first outings, but I wouldn’t expect that to continue. Like I said, they aren’t the flashiest, but the A’s just always find ways to win.
9. Nationals (1-2)
In a normal MLB season, these two losses would mean nothing, and the Nationals would still be in my top five. Unfortunately for the Nationals, losing a series in a 60 game season, while playing in the NL East, is brutal. The starting pitching looked iffy, and I am assuming the reasoning would be playing the best lineup in baseball in the Yankees. I won’t sound the alarms yet, but the Nationals seemed to be a bit too home run happy, and didn’t manufacture runs as they did a year ago. Hopefully Juan Soto will return from his COVID break soon, and the starting pitching can get into a groove.
10. Blue Jays (1-2)
There are quite a few other teams that I could pick here, but I decided to go with a bit of a wild card. With the expansion of the playoffs, I legitimately do believe this is a playoff team. While losing on a walk off is rough, it was against one of the better teams in baseball in the Rays. This team is insanely young, but the production from Bo Bichette, Vlad Jr. and Cavan Biggio was impressive against arguably the best overall pitching staffs in baseball. Hyun-Jin Ryu looked just okay in his first start with his new team, but I still expect him to be productive. While young, I was very impressed with this Blue Jays team, and don’t be surprised when you see this team in the playoff hunt in just two short months.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (2-2)
You can't not keep the Dodgers at number one in this week's rankings. They came into the season at number one, and yeah they split the series over the weekend with the Giants, but they looked pretty dang good in the two games they won. Very early on, the Dodgers are sixth in MLB with an .835 team OPS.
2. New York Yankees (2-1)
Gerrit Cole was dominant in his Yankees' debut, Giancarlo Stanton looks as good as ever and the Yankees are not messing around this season. They dropped the second game to the Nationals, but finished weekend out with a 3-2 win to advance to 2-1 on the year.
3. Minnesota Twins (2-1)
Oh my goodness this offense is amazing. Nelson Cruz alone drove in seven runs yesterday while hitting two home runs. We all knew the Twins' bats were going to be there, but if they can get the pitching turned around, they'll find their way into one of those top two spots.
4. Tampa Bay Rays (2-1)
The Rays lost their first game of the season to the young and talented Toronto Blue Jays, but they were able to bounce back and win the next two to go 2-1 on the weekend, good enough to stay in the top five.
5. Atlanta Braves (2-1)
The first game of the year was rough for the Braves, but that's to be expected when you face Jacob deGrom. Their offense seemed to find its groove in games 2 and 3, though, with an extra innings comeback on Saturday and a blowout win last night.
6. Houston Astros (2-1)
The Astros got out to a good start to the season, and their offense is looking great as usual, but the uncertainty surrounding Justin Verlander's elbow is what hurts them. If he misses significant time, I don't know that the remainder of their rotation will be enough to carry them.
7. Oakland A's (2-1)
The A's certainly got started in dramatic fashion, with a walk-off grand slam on Opening Day. They wrapped up the weekend with a 6-4 victory over the Angels, getting five runs in on Shohei Ohtani in the first inning.
8. Cleveland Indians (2-1)
Shane Bieber set a club Opening Day strikeout record in his first outing of the season. Carlos Carrasco had a solid outing yesterday for the Tribe as he tossed six innings and struck out 10. Their offense hasn't been bad, but the pitching has shined so far.
9. Chicago Cubs (2-1)
The Cubs are the first new team in my Power Rankings this week, and they've earned it. Taking two out of three from the Brewers, including a 9-1 victory yesterday, and a team .804 OPS puts them at number nine this week.
10. San Diego Padres (2-1)
I didn't think I'd put the Padres in my top 10 this early in the season, but here they are. San Diego won two games against Arizona this weekend, and the Friars are up to a .774 team OPS at this point. They rank fourth with a 2.33 ERA and ninth with 29 strikeouts. The young talent is starting to shine through, and this could be a good year for the Padres.
The Yankees move up to number one after taking 2 of 3 from the defending champs in the Nationals. The biggest thing for the Yankees was Giancarlo Stanton, who appears to be returning to his MVP form with two monster home runs this past weekend. If the Yankees get the Stanton they expected when they traded for him, it makes the Yankees the clear cut favorite. Also, Stanton will win Comeback Player of the year, book it now.
A four-game split with the rival Giants showed their ability to hit with their vast lineup. Pitching could be an issue depending on how many more starts Kershaw will miss. However, with that great lineup, I expect the Dodgers to be one or two all season.
A solid start for the Braves, taking 2 of 3 from the Mets to start the season. This included an offensive explosion in their game on Sunday, winning 14-1.
Yes, I forgot about the Rays last week, but a team took 2 of 3 from the Blue Jays last weekend. With a great pitching staff and bullpen with a great lineup, the Rays could surprise many people this year.
Man, the Twins looked good this weekend against the White Sox. Like most teams on this list, they took 2 of 3 from the White Sox. A dynamic and powerful lineup is looking to make a deeper playoff run.
Cubs seemed to have a pretty solid team in the opening weekend against a great Brewers team, taking 2 of 3 (a theme of the weekend). Kyle Hendricks threw his name into the NL Cy Young award with his complete-game shut-out in game one and looked dominant in that game.
Cardinals looked good once again, taking 2 of 3 from the Pirates, the lineup looked solid, and as always, the pitching staff looked good. The Cards are looking to go back-to-back in the NL Central.
A’s looked real good this weekend, taking 2 of 3 from Angels. With the injury of Justin Verlander, the AL West is wide open at this point, and I believe the A’s move in as the favorites for the division crown in 2020.
Solid start for the Astros, winning 2 of 3 from the Mariners but the team falls on this list due to the significant injury for Justin Verlander that will take him out at least a couple of weeks and maybe the season, and with this few games this year, you miss weeks its like months. So, that knocks the Astros a few spots down on this list.
Nats fall to 10th on this list after losing 2 of 3 to the Yankees. The team did miss Juan Soto due to COVID. The team also has Stephen Strasburg on the sidelines with a nerve issue, so most importantly, the team needs to get healthy, but I still expect a great season out of the Nats.
With the Atlanta Braves just a few hours from beginning their 2020 season, news came out this morning that both of the catchers on the active roster will be unavailable for tonight's game.
According to MLB.com's Mark Bowman, both Tyler Flowers and Travis d'Arnaud will not be with the team when they take on the Mets this afternoon. Both players have tested negative for COVID-19, but are showing symptoms and are currently in Atlanta instead of traveling with the team.
This is obviously tough news for the Braves, who now have to call up Alex Jackson and William Contreras.
The Braves had been hit hard by the virus, with four players testing positive at the beginning of summer camp and Yasiel Puig testing positive before he could sign a free agent deal with the team last week.
The Washington Nationals suffered a loss in their lineup when All-Star outfielder Juan Soto received a positive test result yesterday. As the season goes on and we see more positive tests, it really does seem like the team with the fewest positive cases will end up winning the World Series.
As for the Braves catchers now, Jackson has played four games in the Major Leagues while Contreras has never played in the Majors. We'll see how they handle this situation, but it's a tough break for the Braves right before starting the season.
We all knew that the 2020 Major League Baseball season was going to be weird. Between the social distancing, the 60-game schedule and the Blue Jays not having a home yet, it's set up to be quite the ride over the next few months. We're just two games in after yesterday's Opening Night matchups, and the weirdness has already begun.
First, in Los Angeles during last night's game between the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, a balloon mysteriously dropped in on the field during the game. Keep in mind there are no fans in the stands, so no one is quite sure where this balloon came from. It just slowly fell onto the field and no one really looked like they knew what to do with it.
Thankfully the Dodgers' bat boy came to the rescue.
Strange times in Dodger Stadium.
Meanwhile, in Boston this morning, there's debate over whether or not Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is throwing out the first pitch at tonight's Red Sox game.
The governor's office released a statement this morning saying the Baker would throw out the first pitch at an empty Fenway Park, but Red Sox president Sam Kennedy claimed otherwise on The Greg Hill Show on WEEI.
"I can confirm that it is not Gov. Baker," Kennedy said. "We hope he's going to be there but I can confirm he is not throwing the pitch."
Again, this seems like a situation where no one really knows what's happening.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, in addition to those two incidents, we also got a look at an evil Rob Manfred during last night's Nationals-Yankees game.
Like I said, strange times.
Just hours from the first pitch of the 2020 season, Major League Baseball and the players union have agreed to expand the playoffs to 16 teams in 2020, according to multiple reports. Jon Heyman reported that the players received a $50 million guarantee for agreeing to the expansion, but that number could be higher depending on if fans are allowed at the stadiums.
The current postseason format features 10 teams, five from each league. Each division winner and two Wild Card teams make the postseason.
Not much is known about the expanded format yet, but it seems as if the first round matchups would all be three-game series.
The main reasoning for wanting expanded playoffs was money. Obviously with more games, comes more broadcast inventory and more opportunity to sell advertising. However, I'm not a fan of this format.
I don't consider myself a baseball purist like my dad, who told me he wants just two playoff teams. But I do like a more traditional playoff format.
A 16-team postseason just waters down the competition and doesn't make it mean as much. Who cares if you make the playoffs when half the league does as well?
This is one of those rule changes that I hope only stays around in this weird, shortened season, but I have a bad feeling they might try to make it last.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.