Phillies offseason addition Zack Wheeler is still weighing his options about participating in the 2020 season, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports. With Wheeler and his wife expecting a baby in late July - right around the start of the regular season - he’s constantly evaluating his level of comfort with the precautions being taken around baseball.
For the time being, Wheeler expects to play this season, though that’s subject to change. Matt Gelb of The Athletic adds that, even if he continues to play after the birth of his child, Wheeler expects to miss a couple of starts at that time. A number of players have already declared their intentions to sit out this year, and plenty of players in situations similar to Wheeler’s who will continuously evaluate that possibility. Players with young children or expecting a child are in particularly difficult circumstances as they keep their family’s health in mind; like Wheeler, Mike Trout
has some reservations about playing this year as he awaits the arrival of a newborn.
- The Mets and manager Luis Rojas might opt for a closer-by-committee approach this year, with the likes of Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Dellin Betances, and Jeurys Familia all candidates to pitch in the ninth inning, as reported by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. While Diaz was acquired with the expectation that he’d be the guy for years to come, a down year in 2019 coupled with the unique circumstances surrounding this season means that Rojas is open to a less rigid formula for winning games. The Mets are pretty well positioned to employ such a strategy, with the aforementioned four pitchers all having closing experience or boasting closer-quality stuff. Mets fans will hope for a rebound from Diaz, but if that doesn’t happen, Betances—hopefully healthy—and Lugo are certainly not bad options to fall back on.
- With franchise cornerstone Freddie Freeman on the shelf due to COVID-19, the Braves are evaluating contingency plans at first base if Freeman is unable to play in time for regular season games. Per Mark Bowman of MLB.com, Brian Snitker named Austin Riley, Adam Duvall, and Nick Markakis as candidates to appear at first base during Freeman’s absence. All three have limited experience at the position, and Markakis could combine with either Duvall or Riley to form a platoon at first. Johan Camargo, a versatile infielder, could also see some time there, while Peter O’Brien and Yonder are on board as depth options. Obviously, though, the hope is that Freeman will return to good health quickly and with no hiccups to man the position as planned.