Baseball is officially on the way back and we can all take a collective sigh of relief! At least until 2021 where this mess will come roaring back and… we’ll just enjoy this small victory for now.
Jeff Passan of ESPN announced in a tweet Tuesday afternoon that the Players Association had agreed to report by the July 1st date set by Rob Manfred.
The Major League Baseball Players Association has agreed to report to training camps by July 1 and play a 60-game season, sources tell ESPN, but deal is not finalized yet.
One last health-and-safety hurdle to get over and Major League Baseball will be back a week from tomorrow.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 23, 2020
Now that the season has been agreed to and the league is working towards finalizing the details, we can turn our attention to what lies ahead for the boys in blue. Although it seems like a lifetime ago, there was a palpable excitement surrounding this year’s group. Some called it the best Dodgers team ever assembled and fans couldn’t wait to see if this group could finally get over the October hump.
A lot has happened since those optimistic spring days, but there is still plenty to be excited about. Let’s break down 5 storylines to keep an eye on as the Dodgers prepare for the 2020 season.
5. How Will the Dodgers Start Out of the Gate?
It’s no secret that this season will steer clear of the famous ‘marathon season’ euphemism, instead opting for a sprint to the finish approach. 60 games is not a whole lot of time to figure things out, which means that the Dodgers cannot afford to start the season slowly. The best example of this is last year’s World Series Champs. Had the 2019 season only been 60 games, the Nats wouldn’t have even qualified after their 27-33 start to the year and we would’ve had an entirely different outcome to the season. This year will be the biggest crapshoot in history, making it that much more important for the Dodgers to not tempt fate by coming out of the gate cold.
4. Will the Vets Need Extra Days Off?
Baseball players are like well-oiled machines. They have a certain pattern with which they operate, and any kink in the system leads to potential problems. The young guns will likely be alright, but how will players like Turner and Kershaw respond to the demands of a whirlwind season? They have established their routines throughout their careers, but this will be something they have yet to face. Luckily, the Dodgers have a surplus of depth to give older players days off without too much worry. The last thing that they need is Kersh going down for 2-3 weeks with a calf injury and missing almost half of the season.
3. What Happens if Someone Falls into a Slump?
It is fairly typical for every baseball player to go through hot and cold stretches throughout a season, just take Cody Bellinger’s 2019 MVP season as an example. He hit .431 in April but just .235 in August. The beauty of the game is that these stretches average out over a full season. Unfortunately, players won’t have the ability to rely on 162 games to find a rhythm this year. If one of the Dodgers starters comes out cold to start the year, how does Dave Roberts respond? Does he bench them for a few games to give someone else a look or does he stick with them in the hopes that they find their swing again? There are many questions that we can’t answer just yet, but someone will have to.
2. How Will the Newest Dodgers Fare?
Much of the excitement surrounding this season was the debut of Mookie Betts, but the Dodgers added more than one difference-maker in the offseason. Besides Betts, the Dodgers Added David Price, Brusdar Graterol, Jimmy Nelson, Blake Treinen, and old Friend Alex Wood to their pitching staff. This group had a lot of potential, but a shortened season may mean that we don’t get to see all of them have an impact like we normally would. The Dodgers have been known for their endless player rotations and using a variety of bullpen and lineup combinations throughout a 162 game season. With only 60 games to figure out what works best, expect the team to settle for a specific roster much sooner than normal.
1. Will This Be the Year?
There is only one real storyline that fans will care about: will we actually win it all this year? And while a shortened season might provide less excitement about the 2020 Champion, it can also be argued that this year’s winner will be special in their own way. Having to deal with the hardships of a full season sprint, playing through a global pandemic, and needing to be one of the top teams for the entire season will all point towards legitimacy for whoever wins it all. At the end of the day, what matters the most is that we finally have a product on the field. Fans can rejoice in the fact that there is at least a chance to win it this year. The rest will be up to the Dodgers.
What are you most excited to see in this coming season? Let us know in the comments below!