Health concerns are paramount at this point, with the positive coronavirus tests of players and staffers around Major League Baseball -- specifically the growing number of St. Louis Cardinals testing positive -- at the forefront of our minds.
Once we take a step into the news and developments of the early season from on the field, there are some interesting performances, improvements, roster moves and big-picture strategic concerns across the league to recap. It might not surprise you that I wrote much more than expected on these topics. Here are my top takeaways from the first couple of weeks of games -- focusing on each team in the National League. Stats are through Thursday's games.
Top 100 prospect catcher Daulton Varsho (son of former big leaguer Gary) was called up for his MLB debut last month, and he'll be worked in at a number of positions, with left field, second base, designated hitter and catcher the most likely fits. Varsho is a uniquely skilled player with a strong, squatty frame and plus speed to go with plus contact skills but just fringy arm strength. Second baseman Andy Young (acquired in the Paul Goldschmidt deal) also made his big league debut, working in a platoon/bench role.
The rest of the news hasn't been that great. The D-backs have the second-worst run differential in the league, driven by the third-most runs allowed in the league. LHP Robbie Ray has a 9.45 ERA through three outings and none of the ERA estimators suggest that he has been especially unlucky. LHP Madison Bumgarner has been equally bad in the early going but is even more worrisome because Arizona just gave him $85 million and his velocity is the lowest of his career (88.0 mph on average), while his fastball usage is falling to near career lows (38%). The D-backs' playoff odds since Opening Day have fallen from 47% to 26%, the third-biggest drop.