St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is one of a few players who will benefit from Major League Baseball's late July start.
The 32-year-old suffered from right elbow soreness in spring training before the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After rehabbing the injury, the slugger reported to summer camp at 100 percent, as he told MLB.com's Anne Rogers.
"I was able to take some time off and give it some rest and get treatment on it for a while," Goldschmidt said. "It's 100 percent now. I'm not sure if it would have been if we rolled right into the season. Hopefully that's one positive, personally."
Goldschmidt is coming off his third straight 30-home run season and his first in a Cardinals uniform.
While he is expected to play first base for most of the 60-game campaign, Goldschmidt could be utilized as a designated hitter at times since that will be implemented in the National League.
He could be one of the keys for the Cardinals to top the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
In 19 games versus Milwaukee in 2019, Goldschmidt hit eight home runs and drove in 20 runs with a 1.017 OPS.
Goldschmidt hit 12 long balls against the other three NL Central sides, with seven against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
If he continues to take advantage of divisional pitching, Goldschmidt will once again be the key cog in the Cardinals lineup, but he needs Paul DeJong to increase power behind him with Marcell Ozuna now in Atlanta.
Mets Unsure About Edwin Diaz, Closer Situation
The back end of the New York Mets bullpen was a disaster in 2019.
Edwin Diaz went 2-7 with a 5.59 ERA and gave up 36 earned runs and 15 home runs over 58 innings.
After Diaz's long year as closer, it is understandable that Mets manager Luis Rojas did not confirm who would hold that role.
According to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, Rojas was noncommittal to Diaz, or anyone else in the bullpen.
"I don't know yet," Rojas said. "We'll get there at some point."
Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia and Dellin Betances are some of the other options Rojas has to choose from if he moves Diaz out of the ninth-inning role.
Lugo recorded a 7-4 record and 2.70 ERA, but he only recorded five more strikeouts than Diaz in 22 more innings pitched.
Despite possessing a winning mark, Familia had a worse ERA than Diaz at 5.70 and walked the most batters of any Mets reliever in 2019.
Betances missed all of his last season with the New York Yankees because of a shoulder injury, and he only has 36 saves in eight-year MLB career.
If the Mets fail to receive consistency from their closer again, they could be mired in the bottom part of the NL East with Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington all jockeying for playoff positions.
Corey Knebel Close To Return
Instead of coming back in the middle of the 2020 season, Milwaukee pitcher Corey Knebel could throw in the first half of the revised 60-game slate.
The right-handed pitcher missed the entire 2019 campaign after Tommy John surgery and has impressed in his brief stints on the bump in July.
Brewers pitching coach Chris Hook told reporters than Knebel looked sharp in live batting practice, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Todd Rosiak and Tom Haudricourt.
"Was really sharp," Hook said. "I think just getting the reaction of the hitters, it's an uncomfortable at-bat. It's really tough for them with that (arm) slot and obviously the velocity, plus that curveball. It looks really, really good as well."
In 2017 and 2018, Knebel fanned 214 opponents over 133 innings, and he earned an All-Star Game nod in 2017.
If he continues to progress, Knebel could be a major asset in front of Josh Hader in the Brewers bullpen.
His presence on the active roster could have more importance than it would on other squads since Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell is known for using the opener strategy and has more reliance on his bullpen in certain situations.
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Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference