Miami, Colorado, and Oakland are Off to Surprisingly Strong Starts in the Shortened 2020 MLB Season
MLB’s 60-game sprint has led teams to believe anything can happen. And judging by early returns, that might be true. Clubs see the shortened season and expanded playoffs as an opportunity. Some are off to hot, unexpected starts, but others, like the St. Louis Cardinals, are on ice. Here’s a look at three surprising first-place clubs.
Miami Marlins (7-3, 1stplace NL East)
Coming off a 105-loss season, most pegged the Marlins as bottom feeders. Couple those expectations with a COVID-19 outbreak that wiped out more than half the roster, Miami seemed destined for 10 wins this year.
But don’t look now, the Marlins have won five straight and sit atop the NL East. A revamped roster spurred a four-game sweep of the Orioles, and Fangraphs playoff odds leapt from 2 to over 30 percent.
With plenty of young talent and a group of savvy veterans, Miami should make a playoff push. Monte Harrison made his MLB debut and has 20/20 potential. Pablo Lopez emerged as the staff’s ace post-COVID and Jonathan Villar’s versatility had injected energy into the lineup.
Colorado Rockies (10-3, 1stplace NL West)
Most MLB pundits predicted the Colorado Rockies at or near the bottom of the NL West. 13 games into 2020, though, they’re holding first place.
The Rockies have leaned on dominant pitching during their surprise run. The staff has the fourth-best ERA in MLB and has held opponents to a .206 batting average and 3.27 runs per game.
Colorado will need to sort out their bullpen, and Nolan Arenado will need to get going with the bat. In the meantime, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, and, surprisingly, Matt Kemp, have kept the offense rolling for the Rockies. At this point, if they don’t make the playoffs, it’d be disappointing.
Oakland Athletics (11-4, 1stplace AL West)
Assistant coach Nazi salute aside, the Oakland Athletics have been a fun story to start the season. While most picked the Houston Astros to take the division, it’s the A’s would control the AL West.
They’ve built a 2.5-game division lead on the backs of sensational pitching. And their best work has come from the bullpen, a group that’s posted a 1.80 ERA through 55 IP.
Timely hitting has helped as well, considering Oakland has two walk-off grand slams this season. The bats will need more consistency, but they have established stars in Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Marcus Semien who can, and will, hit.
Headline Photo Credit: MLB.com