MLB players who were most helped and hurt by the delayed start of the 2020 season

MLB finally resumes in July with summer camp after being abruptly halted in mid-March due to the COVID-19 epidemic.The following players were helped or hurt most by the delay in the season.

Helped: Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers

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Braun looked like he’d have his playing time slashed with the addition of Avisail Garcia. That changes with the addition of the designated hitter in the shortened season. For a player who has had trouble staying healthy, the DH is an added bonus.

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Dobnak was a top candidate for the fifth starter job after a great finish to 2019, but the potential readiness of Rich Hill from elbow surgery hurts Dobnak’s cause. It’s possible he will start the season as a long reliever.

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Canning’s prospects for the start of the season looked bleak due to an elbow injury. With the time off, he’s had a chance to heal, though there’s no word on if he will be ready by Opening Day. Regardless, he does have a shot to help more in 2020 with the season starting later.

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Hernandez looked like the likely fifth starter for Atlanta in spring training, but his status is now muddled as the team’s youngsters could be more likely to make the roster. Hopefully, King Felix can pick up where he left off in spring training, allowing only three runs in 13.2 innings.

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Cespedes missed all of 2019 due to foot and ankle injuries, but the pause bought him some extra time to get healthy. It remains to be seen if Cespedes will be ready in late July, but the addition of the designated hitter should help.

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There’s more incentive for rebuilding teams to get a look at their prospects early with the shortened season, which is unfortunate for veterans like Iglesias. The shortstop had a strong season in Cincy last year and an opportunity to pad his hitting stats in Baltimore if he had a full season.

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An oblique injury suffered in spring training was set to sideline Conforto for part of April, but the injury is no longer a concern. Conforto should be ready to hit in the middle of the order when the delayed season begins.

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McCann was upstaged at catcher by Yasmani Grandal but was hoping to build at-bats between catcher and designated hitter this season. Those opportunities could be few and far between now that the season is shorter.

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Helped: MacKenzie Gore, SP, Padres

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Gore is arguably the game’s best pitching prospect, and the Padres have incentive to promote him sooner in what will be a season sprint. He can also regroup after a slow start to his spring.

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Moran has been a solid regular for the Pirates in recent seasons, but Pittsburgh has a long-term backup option in Ke’Bryan Hayes who could now make the team out of camp. In the best case, Moran could still share time between third base and designated hitter.

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Helped: Rich Hill, SP, Twins

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Hill underwent offseason elbow surgery that was set to sideline him for the first half of 2020. Now that the season will begin in late July, Hill should be ready for the new Opening Day and potentially have a rotation spot.

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Nova has been an innings eater in recent seasons but not always effective. The loaded Tigers farm system could push some of their top prospects to the majors early in the year, which stands as a threat to Nova’s roster spot.

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McHugh signed in the spring as he rehabbed an arm injury. Chris Sale’s season-ending surgery and more time could allow McHugh to crack the Red Sox rotation in July, where he hopes to regain the form he showed in Houston.

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Pineda long knew he’d miss the start of the 2020 season due to a PEDs suspension carried over from last year. Now that the season is shorter, every game holds more weight and Pineda will miss a more significant chunk of this season as he sits for 39 games.

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Mikolas struggled in spring training due to a forearm injury, but the ailment could be a thing of the past by the start of the season. His health is important for the Cardinals chances in the NL Central.

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Quantrill was penciled in as San Diego’s fifth starter going into the season, but the delay could allow MacKenzie Gore or another young pitcher to jump him. Quantrill’s experience in the bullpen gives the Padres further incentive to use him in that role.

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Myers looked like the odd man out in the Padres outfield again entering this season. Fortunately, the addition of the designated hitter gives Myers another opportunity for at-bats.

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Seager is one of Seattle’s few remaining veterans on a team that isn’t expected to compete in 2020. While he showed he could still play last season with 23 home runs, there’s a much bigger chance he will ride the bench as the M’s look at their young talent.

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Ohtani was expected to open the season at DH as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery. With the three month pause, there’s a realistic chance he will be able to pitch at the start of the season, giving his team a unique weapon.

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Smith proved he could hit last season, even while playing out of position in the outfield. At-bats could be difficult to come by if he gets off to a slow start now, as Yoenis Cespedes could be added to the fray, and Matt Adams remains in camp.

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Helped: Tyler O’Neill, OF, Cardinals

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O’Neill has shown huge power upside in his early career but has struggled to find playing time. The addition of the designated hitter changes that, as O’Neill looks like one of the favorites for that spot.

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Trout is arguably the game’s best player, but he stated concerns with the COVID-19 protocols and plans for a shortened season, with his wife due to give birth during the year. It seems trivial, but the time Trout will miss becomes more significant in a 60-game season.

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Puk suffered a shoulder injury in the spring, which was a big setback for a pitcher who also had Tommy John surgery recently. The hard-throwing lefty has had enough time to heal and could be a major weapon for the A’s in 2020.

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Villar was added by the Marlins for athleticism and to put fans in the seats. It doesn’t look like the latter will be a possibility this season, so Miami doesn’t have much incentive to write Villar’s name on the lineup card if things go south early.

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