1 Word to Describe Every MLB Team 1 Week into 60-Game Season

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterAugust 1, 2020

1 Word to Describe Every MLB Team 1 Week into 60-Game Season

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    What to make of the Houston Astros?
    What to make of the Houston Astros?David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    What was the first week of Major League Baseball's unprecedented 60-game season like?

    In a word: Interesting.

    Regarding how each of MLB's 30 teams have fared, we looked to get more specific. We picked out one word to describe each of them one week into the 2020 season, ranging from standards such as "promising" and "flat" to more abstract terms like "nebulous" and "beguiling."

    We'll proceed in alphabetical order by city.

    Note: All records and stats are current through Friday, July 31.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Flat

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    Madison Bumgarner
    Madison BumgarnerJeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

    Record: 3-5

    In the wake of their 85-win season in 2019 and their productive shopping on the winter market, it was fair to have high hopes for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2020.

    One week in, however, neither their record nor their minus-13 run differential bodes particularly well.

    There are some bright spots to be found in Arizona. To wit, Merrill Kelly, who flirted with a no-hitter in his season debut, and the Martes (Ketel and Starling) have combined for a .321 average and an .864 OPS.

    The Snakes otherwise haven't gotten much out of newcomer ace Madison Bumgarner and, despite what the Martes have done, their offense has been alarmingly cold with a .580 OPS and just two home runs.

Atlanta: Shorthanded

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    Mike Foltynewicz (C)
    Mike Foltynewicz (C)Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Record: 5-3

    Atlanta is two games above .500, the club has also scored seven more runs than it's allowed and generally laid the foundation for a real contender.

    Despite slow starts from Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, Atlanta's offense has cranked out nine homers and 46 runs. The club has also gotten a 1.96 ERA out of Mike Soroka and Max Fried.

    But in light of the .472 OPS coming from third base, it's already clear that Atlanta misses Josh Donaldson at the hot corner. And especially after 2018 All-Star Mike Foltynewicz was designated for assignment, the club sorely needs veteran left-hander Cole Hamels to get healthy and stabilize its rotation.

    Basically, what Atlanta has right now might not be good enough.

Baltimore Orioles: Misleading

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    Cody Carroll
    Cody CarrollJulio Cortez/Associated Press

    Record: 3-3

    Well, would you look at that? After losing 223 games across 2018 and 2019, the Baltimore Orioles are .500 so far in 2020.

    Underneath that, however, is a minus-eight run differential that speaks more honestly about the true quality of the 2020 O's.

    There are a few Orioles who deserve a tip of the ol' cap in the early goings. Hanser Alberto, for instance, is hitting .440. Given that he's potential trade bait, the O's must have enjoyed Alex Cobb debuting with one run allowed over 5.1 innings.

    There otherwise isn't a whole lot to see in Baltimore, particularly on the mound. Cobb wasn't as great his second time around, and O's pitchers as a whole have put up a 5.86 ERA.

Boston Red Sox: Diminished

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    Colten Brewer
    Colten BrewerMichael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Record: 3-5

    Two years ago, the Boston Red Sox authored an all-time great season by winning 108 games and then rolling to their fourth World Series title since 2004.

    Now look at them.

    The Red Sox began the year with a 13-2 romp over the Orioles but have since lost five of seven. Their Chris Sale- and Eduardo Rodriguez-less pitching staff has unsurprisingly struggled to keep runs off the board in this span, posting a 5.81 ERA with 70 hits and 29 walks allowed in 62 innings.

    Because there isn't a whole lot of hope for better production in that department, the Red Sox better hope their offense can carry the load. That's where having a guy like Mookie Betts would come in handy.

Chicago Cubs: Promising

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    Kyle Hendricks and Willson Contreras
    Kyle Hendricks and Willson ContrerasAssociated Press

    Record: 5-2

    Though the Chicago Cubs didn't remake their roster over the winter, they came into the year hoping for a fresh start under new manager David Ross.

    So far, so good.

    Despite Kris Bryant's slow start, the Cubs have racked up a rock-solid .829 OPS and 44 runs through their first seven games. Anthony Rizzo is already up to three home runs, while Javier Baez, Ian Happ and David Bote each have a pair of their own.

    Beginning with Kyle Hendricks' shutout on Opening Day, Cubs starters have also come out hot with a 2.68 ERA. So if they can iron out their early-season bullpen woes—see: their relievers' 9.55 ERA—they might hold their ground atop the NL Central.

Chicago White Sox: Lopsided

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    Yoan Moncada
    Yoan MoncadaAssociated Press

    Record: 3-4

    If nothing else, the Chicago White Sox's renovated offense is living up to the hype.

    It looked darn good on paper coming into 2020, and it's mostly been darn good in the early goings. Specifically, Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada are building on their respective 2019 breakouts with a combined .315 average and .899 OPS.

    But for every hard hit produced by their offense, White Sox pitchers have served up at least one in response. The whole staff has a 5.61 ERA, and bright spots are hard to find apart from veteran left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Ross Detwiler.

    If the White Sox are going to make good on their grand plan to return to October, their arms will simply have to do better.

Cincinnati Reds: Electric

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    Sonny Gray
    Sonny GrayAaron Doster/Associated Press

    Record: 2-5

    Even though they've lost more than they've won, there are things in which the Cincinnati Reds can take comfort.

    One is that they only have a minus-one run differential. Another is that their offense is already up to 12 home runs. That's despite not having Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel for a few games, and the further good news with them is that both dodged a coronavirus scare.

    But best of all is what's going on in Cincinnati's rotation, specifically in the top half. Co-aces Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer have been literally (i.e., figuratively) hot to the touch, racking up a 2.32 ERA and 50 strikeouts through their first 31 innings.

    If those guys can keep that up, the Reds' record should even out in the long run.

Cleveland: Dominant

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    Shane Bieber
    Shane BieberAssociated Press

    Record: 5-3

    While other teams struggle to field either healthy or effective pitchers, they're doing just fine on the mound in Cleveland.

    Through Thursday, there were only 42 instances of a starting pitcher lasting at least six innings. Cleveland was responsible for seven of those, and that's only the half of its starters' excellent work.

    Apart from the innings, Cleveland starters have also racked up a 2.12 ERA with 72 strikeouts and only eight walks. Nobody has been as impressive as Shane Bieber, who's allowed zero runs on seven hits and one walk with a record-tying 27 strikeouts through his first two starts.

    Once the club's similarly outstanding 2.14 ERA in relief is factored in, a clear and encouraging explanation for Cleveland's hot start begins to emerge.

Colorado Rockies: Reinvigorated

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    The Colorado Rockies
    The Colorado RockiesAssociated Press

    Record: 4-2

    After back-to-back postseason runs in 2017 and 2018, everything fell apart, and the Colorado Rockies finished 2019 with 91 losses.

    But so far in 2020, the Rockies are...good?

    Well, half-good. Trevor Story has a 1.203 OPS and three home runs, but the rest of the Rockies offense has slumped to the tune of a .687 overall OPS. The club's pitching has mainly carried the team, putting up a 2.72 ERA

    Regarding that, the catch is that the Rockies have only played one game at Coors Field. But given just how horrid they were (i.e., 28-53) on the road a year ago, they ought to be thrilled with how they've come out of the gate in 2020.

Detroit Tigers: Watchable

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    Miguel Cabrera and C.J. Cron
    Miguel Cabrera and C.J. CronCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Record: 5-3

    After what happened in 2019, everyone ought to beware a warm start on the part of the Detroit Tigers. Last year's club started 7-3 only to end up with 114 losses.

    A similar downfall may await the 2020 Tigers. They have a minus-six run differential, and their offense (.220 average) and pitching staff (5.07 ERA) both bear less-than-awesome peripheral numbers.

    But to give credit where it's due, JaCoby Jones, Jonathan Schoop and a seemingly healthy and happy Miguel Cabrera have fueled Detroit's MLB-high 15 homers with three dingers apiece. Elsewhere, Spencer Turnbull's debut was the latest tease of his high upside, as he allowed one run and struck out eight in five innings.

    Because of these guys and others, the Tigers should be worth tuning in for even if their record takes another nosedive.

Houston Astros: Vulnerable

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    Dusty Baker
    Dusty BakerAssociated Press

    Record: 4-3

    Setting aside certain nefarious explanations for it, the dominance of the Houston Astros was a routine part of baseball between 2017 and 2019.

    The club won 311 games across those three seasons, and with a plus-739 run differential to boot. They enjoyed some of the game's best pitching, while their offense gradually morphed into one of the greatest of all time in 2019.

    Yet it's no accident that the Astros are off to somewhat of a modest start in 2020. Their offense is missing Yordan Alvarez and has suffered through slumps by George Springer, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve. Plus, a rotation that lost Gerrit Cole over the winter is now going to be without Justin Verlander for a while.

    So for the first time since 2016, there's a clear opening for someone else to win the AL West.

Kansas City Royals: Imbalanced

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    Jorge Soler and Whit Merrifield
    Jorge Soler and Whit MerrifieldCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Record: 3-5

    The Kansas City Royals are basically the inverse of the Tigers. Their record isn't good, but some of their other numbers suggest they deserve better.

    To wit, the Royals only have a minus-one run differential. Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler, Salvador Perez and newcomer Maikel Franco have eight home runs between them, and a whole bunch of pitchers share credit for the team's respectable 3.78 ERA.

    But with only 65 strikeouts and 12 home runs allowed in 69 innings, Royals hurlers haven't exactly dominated. The club also has a bunch of struggling hitters, including out-of-sorts shortstop Adalberto Mondesi.

    If one didn't know any better, one might surmise the Royals still have some rebuilding to do.

Los Angeles Angels: Sneaky

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    Brian Goodwin and Anthony Rendon
    Brian Goodwin and Anthony RendonMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Record: 2-6

    There are reasons to be pessimistic about the early performance of the Los Angeles Angels.

    The big one surely has to do with Shohei Ohtani, whose long-awaited return to the mound on July 26 resulted in five runs and zero outs. The Angels have also endured issues with their bullpen, and they're still waiting on Mike Trout to play like, well, Mike Trout.

    Yet even despite all this, the Angels probably deserve better than to be four games below .500.

    Some things are going right, such as Andrew Heaney and Dylan Bundy combining for a 2.82 ERA. It's also a good sign that their offense has scored 28 runs in the four games in which newcomer Anthony Rendon has played since returning from injury.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Deep

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    Enrique Hernandez and Edwin Rios
    Enrique Hernandez and Edwin RiosDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Record: 5-3

    There have been a few developments that would hypothetically portend a disastrous start for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    For one thing, MVPs Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger have just a .553 OPS and one home run between them. For another, Clayton Kershaw's debut has been delayed by a back injury. And for yet another, the Dodgers are still stretching out fellow ace Walker Buehler.

    And yet they still have a winning record and a plus-18 run differential.

    They're enjoying a rebirth on the part of former MVP candidate Corey Seager. They've gotten huge hits from guys like Enrique Hernandez and Edwin Rios, plus clutch pitching from Dustin May and Ross Stripling. Such things are an expected testament to just how much talent the Dodgers have underneath their core stars.

Miami Marlins: Precarious

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    Don Mattingly
    Don MattinglyAssociated Press

    Record: 2-1

    The Miami Marlins got off to a solid start on the field. They marched into Citizens Bank Park for their first series of the year and ended up taking two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies.

    But apart from that, their season has been a nightmare.

    Somewhere along the line, COVID-19 began creeping into the Marlins clubhouse. It has since resulted in 18 of their players and two of their coaches testing positive and their season being put on hold until Monday.

    Though there's a developing situation in St. Louis, it's some consolation that no other team has had an outbreak as bad as Miami's. Nevertheless, the club's experience ought to have it searching for answers and the rest of the league heeding its cautionary tale.

Milwaukee Brewers: Incomplete

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    Christian Yelich
    Christian YelichGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Record: 3-3

    For the most part, the Milwaukee Brewers have looked fine. Not great. Not even good. But fine.

    There are some positive storylines in their offense, such as Keston Hiura continuing to mash and Lorenzo Cain busting out of last year's slump. Brandon Woodruff, meanwhile, is building on his 2019 breakout with a 1.59 ERA and 15 strikeouts through 11.1 innings.

    But then there's the Christian Yelich conundrum. He was the best hitter in baseball between the midpoint of 2018 and the end of 2019, but now he's just 1-for-27 with 12 strikeouts so far in 2020.

    Small sample size be damned, that ought to concern the Brewers. Because without Yelich at his best, they can only be so good.

Minnesota Twins: Predictable

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    Aaron Whitefield and Nelson Cruz
    Aaron Whitefield and Nelson CruzAssociated Press

    Record: 5-2

    Their humbling at the hands of Shane Bieber on Thursday notwithstanding, the Minnesota Twins have been at it again.

    They slugged their way to 101 wins in 2019, ultimately finishing with an MLB-record 307 home runs. Not much has changed early on in 2020. Led by Nelson Cruz's three long balls, they've hit 12 home runs en route to an average of 5.7 runs per game.

    Minnesota's pitching, meanwhile, is also repeating last year's formula: Don't stand out, but don't spoil the party either.

    After Jose Berrios made up for his Opening Day flop with five solid innings on Thursday, Twins pitchers now boast a solid 3.34 ERA. Notably, core relievers such as Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey and Sergio Romo have yet to be scored upon.

New York Mets: Volatile

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    Rick Porcello
    Rick PorcelloAssociated Press

    Record: 3-5

    The New York Mets were pretty good in the process of winning 86 games in 2019, but various shortcomings meant they never achieved greatness.

    Even before the season began, the possibility of this happening again in 2020 was very real. The Mets suffered a blow when Noah Syndergaard underwent Tommy John surgery, and then another when fellow ace Marcus Stroman sustained a calf injury.

    As such, the Mets' early result—e.g., both their record and their minus-10 run differential—aren't entirely unexpected.

    Their hitters range from very hot (Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto) to very cold (Wilson Ramos and Amed Rosario), while guys like Rick Porcello and Edwin Diaz have undercut the strong pitching of Jacob deGrom and others. Altogether, this team badly needs stability.

New York Yankees: Nebulous

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    Giancarlo Stanton (C)
    Giancarlo Stanton (C)Associated Press

    Record: 5-1

    Though the New York Yankees are off to a strong start, we don't really know what they are yet.

    The big picture is incomplete partially because of the coronavirus. Ace closer Aroldis Chapman is only now ready to return from a positive test, and the Marlins situation resulted in the Yankees having two games postponed.

    As to other matters, 11.2 of the 25.1 innings pitched by Yankees starters belong to newcomer ace Gerrit Cole. Offensively, Gary Sanchez and Brett Gardner have begun the year in bad slumps.

    Yet even this not-quite-congealed version of the Yankees has things to boast about, most notably Cole's pitching, DJ LeMahieu's .455 average and Giancarlo Stanton's 1.384 OPS. This likely indicates that even better things await when all their pieces finally come together.

Oakland Athletics: Untenable

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    Jesus Luzardo
    Jesus LuzardoJeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Record: 3-4

    In the process of taking three of four against the Angels and then losing their next three games, the Oakland Athletics have become hard to read.

    They have a lot to like early on, including rookie Jesus Luzardo's excellent work in relief and a hot offensive start by underrated center fielder Ramon Laureano. On Friday, Bob Melvin announced Luzardo will make his first MLB start on Tuesday vs. the Texas Rangers.

    On the flip side, they need more from an offense that's produced only five home runs. It would help to get Khris Davis going, as the slumping slugger has recorded zero hits in 17 trips to the plate.

    None of these are insurmountable problems, but they definitely loom a little larger in the context of the shortened schedule.

Philadelphia Phillies: Unfortunate

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    Bryce Harper and Joe Dillon
    Bryce Harper and Joe DillonAssociated Press

    Record: 1-2

    The Phillies might end up having a good season. But for now, their fate is inextricably linked to that of the Marlins.

    Despite six home runs from their offense and a strong debut from newcomer Zack Wheeler, the Phillies dropped their season-opening series against Miami. To borrow a favorite phrase from new manager Joe Girardi, that's not what you want.

    A week later, the Phillies are still waiting to play their next game. The club had its games for the week postponed out of an abundance of caution. It was set to return against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, but positive tests for two staff members triggered additional postponements.

    One bright side is that no Phillies players have tested positive for the coronavirus yet. Nevertheless, they're in fingers-crossed mode until further notice.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Sputtering

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    Derek Shelton
    Derek SheltonAssociated Press

    Record: 2-5

    After an ugly 93-loss season, the Pittsburgh Pirates began 2020 with hopes of a promising new beginning under first-time manager Derek Shelton.

    Their starting rotation is cooperating well enough. It has a 3.90 ERA overall, in part thanks to strong debuts from Mitch Keller and Derek Holland and solid work by Joe Musgrove up top.

    Pittsburgh's offense, on the other hand, is just not there in the early goings. Colin Moran has done his best with a 1.260 OPS and four home runs, but he and his mates have an MLB-low .541 OPS in the aggregate.

    Without improvement on that front, the Pirates figure to have a hard time competing in a stacked NL Central division.

San Diego Padres: Exciting

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    Trent Grisham and Manny Machado
    Trent Grisham and Manny MachadoTony Avelar/Associated Press

    Record: 6-2

    Their record doesn't stand alone as the best in baseball, but no team may be having as much fun as the San Diego Padres so far.

    Following a 2019 season in which they scored only 4.2 runs per game, the Padres must love that their offense has tallied an MLB-high 52 runs. Manny Machado, Wil Myers, Fernando Tatis Jr., Trent Grisham and Eric Hosmer have combined for a .988 OPS and 31 runs batted in.

    San Diego is also getting a 3.88 ERA from its pitchers, among whom the rotation trio of Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet and Garrett Richards has looked especially dangerous with a combined 2.27 ERA.

    The Padres have been waiting 10 years for a winning record, and 14 years for a trip to the postseason. At this rate, they won't have to wait much longer for either.

San Francisco Giants: Beguiling

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    Mike Yastrzemski
    Mike YastrzemskiTony Avelar/Associated Press

    Record: 4-4

    This year's San Francisco Giants probably aren't good.

    They have, after all, already been outscored by 11 runs in the eight games they've played. None of their pitchers has truly stood out, and they've generally had to scratch and claw for runs of their own.

    Then again, the Giants allowed nearly 100 more runs than they scored throughout 2019 and still put together a halfway decent 77-85 record. Though the team they have now barely resembles that one, some of the juju that drove the '19 Giants might still be in the San Francisco air.

    If nothing else, it still looks as if the Giants have struck gold with Mike Yastrzemski. Carl's grandson is building on last year's breakout with a 1.321 OPS and two homers, including a walk-off.

Seattle Mariners: Overmatched

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    Yusei Kikuchi
    Yusei KikuchiDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Record: 4-4

    In fairness to the Seattle Mariners, their offense isn't the problem.

    Mariners hitters have put together a solid .262/.338/.422 batting line with 41 runs scored. That's largely thanks to Kyle Lewis and J.P. Crawford, who've teamed up for a 1.114 OPS.

    But just like in 2019, the Mariners simply can't pitch. Their 6.49 ERA is the worst in MLB, and it's been a true group effort. Out of the 18 pitchers they've used, only two haven't given up at least one run.

    Seattle fans should definitely be watching when the Mariners are at bat. Otherwise, they'd be smart to look away when the M's are in the field.

St. Louis Cardinals: Shaky

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    The St. Louis Cardinals
    The St. Louis CardinalsJim Mone/Associated Press

    Record: 2-3

    As of now, the St. Louis Cardinals' most immediate concern is keeping the coronavirus at bay. They've had two players test positive, resulting in the postponement of Friday's tilt against Milwaukee.

    Assuming they can clear this hurdle, the Cardinals will then have their offense to worry about.

    Their lineup wasn't especially good in 2019, and their offseason consisted of letting Marcell Ozuna walk as a free agent while adding no new impact bats. The bill for that is already coming due, as the Cards have been held to three or fewer runs in three of their five games, and just 18 runs overall.

    The good news is that their arms are still doing fine work to the tune of a 3.77 ERA. But if their bats don't wake up, that won't matter in the not-too-long run.

Tampa Bay Rays: Prepared

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    Kevin Kiermaier (C)
    Kevin Kiermaier (C)Associated Press

    Record: 4-4

    The Tampa Bay Rays started out 4-1, but have since had a three-game losing streak push their record to the .500 mark.

    They do, however, still have a plus-seven run differential that exists because of the fundamental truth of their roster: It's really, really deep.

    The Rays have scored 41 runs by way of contributions from up and down their offensive depth chart. Likewise, aces Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow can't take all the credit for the club's 3.60 ERA. Indeed, their relievers have actually worked more innings than their starters.

    So despite their recent stumbling, the Rays are probably better equipped than most to handle a 60-game sprint to October.

Texas Rangers: Screwed

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    Corey Kluber
    Corey KluberAssociated Press

    Record: 2-4

    Pretty much the only way the Texas Rangers were going to have a chance in the AL West in 2020 was if their star-studded rotation stayed together and their offense was better than expected.

    So much for that first one, as the Rangers sustained a critical blow when Corey Kluber left his debut after just one inning. The two-time Cy Young Award winner has a shoulder tear that will sideline him for weeks.

    The Rangers' bats, meanwhile, are off to a pitiful start marked by a .180 average and a .597 OPS. Both of those figures are among the worst in Major League Baseball.

    There's obviously still time for the Rangers to pull off a Texas-sized comeback. But not much, and it won't be easy if they can't find some hats to pull magic out of.

Toronto Blue Jays: Flimsy

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    Mark Budzinski and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Mark Budzinski and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Associated Press

    Record: 3-4

    Given that they lost 95 games in 2019, it's a good thing the Toronto Blue Jays are just a game under .500 early on.

    Their pitching has been a revelation. Blue Jays hurlers boast a 3.29 ERA overall, mainly courtesy of a 3.16 ERA on the part of their starters. Of the bunch, Nate Pearson teased an arguably unparalleled ceiling with five shutout innings in his major league debut.

    Less awesome, however, is that Toronto's young offensive trio of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio has started cold with a combined .591 OPS. Other hitters not named Teoscar Hernandez (who has four homers) are also struggling, and closer Ken Giles will be out for a while with yet another elbow injury.

    In their current state, the Blue Jays' margin for error is basically nonexistent.

Washington Nationals: Sluggish

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    Starlin Castro
    Starlin CastroAssociated Press

    Record: 3-4

    Baseball's four-month pause gave the Washington Nationals something that other reigning World Series champions can only ever wish for: a chance to rest.

    They're squandering it.

    Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin have paced Washington's pitching staff to a 2.69 ERA, but the club's hitters have mustered only 24 runs. Getting on base (.306 OBP) and hitting for power (.398 SLG) have both been a challenge for the latter.

    The Nats will hopefully perk up when Juan Soto (coronavirus) and Stephen Strasburg (hand) make their returns. Because if they don't, the NL East might not let them catch up.


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.


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