As we all know the 2020 Major League Baseball season has been delayed for the foreseeable future do to the COVID-19 virus, also being referred to as coronavirus.
The season was originally delayed by a couple of weeks in hopes that the virus would run its course and the league could open some time in April. But then players in other sports began contracting the virus. And then the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the White House, and state governments responded with restrictions on large crowds.
In the last few days, two New York Yankees minor league prospects were positively diagnosed as well. These developments combined to force MLB to push back the start of their 2020 regular season by a couple of more months. We are now looking at a late-May or early June start in a best-case scenario.
All of that is being widely reported in the news already. So, enough with these negatives and let’s start talking some positives.
During Rhys Hoskins second-half slump last year the Phillies’ first baseman started to tweak his batting stance to try and get things turned around. That did not happen. Hoskins progressively got worse and he instead became one of the worst hitters in baseball over the final couple months. Hoskins batted a feeble .180 with only nine home runs down the stretch.
As he made preparations for 2020 spring training the now 27-year-old Hoskins hinted that he might be changing his stance once again. “Don’t be surprised, if things look a little different,” he said per Scott Lauber of the Inquirer. It’s good to see that Hoskins is making changes trying to better himself for the season ahead.
In a dozen games before the early shutdown of the Grapefruit League, Hoskins received 29 at-bats in which he produced just seven hits for a weak .241 batting average. It’s safe to say that he still needs more at-bats with this new batting stance in order to really know whether it will work or not.
With the season on hold, Hoskins can now relax and continue to work in the batting cages. Taking more practice cuts with the stance without the pressure of game situations could make him more comfortable using it in the batter’s box once the season begins.
If he is able to make this stance work for him, Hoskins could be poised for a nice bounce back campaign. That would lengthen the Phillies lineup and make it truly frightening for opposition pitchers. His increased production in the lineup would also have the added benefit of helping protect other hitters and allow them to see better pitches.
Another player who could benefit from this delay is relief pitcher Seranthony Dominguez. The right-hander’s 2019 season was cut short when he suffered a UCL injury which knocked him out for the year in early June.
Dominguez weighed surgery to repair the UCL. In the end he opted not to undergo that procedure and instead tried to rehab the injury with some success. Still, his loss hurt the Phillies bullpen. He and the team simply had to hope that he would be ready for spring training in 2020.
In two appearances down in Florida earlier this month, Dominguez tossed two innings and recorded two strikeouts. But the early encouraging developments came to a sudden stop when he suffered what was described by Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia as “a setback in his recovery” after his second spring appearance for a game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
This hold on the 2020 season now provides Dominguez with another opportunity to rest and rehab further. Without him the Phillies bullpen, devastated by multiple injuries that left it severely depleted a year ago, would again lose a valuable weapon. The more setbacks he has, the more likely it becomes that he may need to ultimately undergo Tommy John surgery.
A healthy Dominguez would mean a deeper, more reliable, and more talented bullpen. The ability to turn that area of the ball club into a strength would inevitably help make new manager Joe Girardi‘s first Phillies team a postseason contender.
With the season on hold, both Hoskins and Dominguez will look to use the time to better themselves. In Hoskins case through more reps in a cage. In Dominguez case through rest and rehabilitation.
These are two players who would be key pieces for a Phillies playoff push if they can get themselves right. Without them healthy and playing up to their potential that goal only gets tougher.
THE BELL – COVID 19 COVERAGE
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