With the season opener just around the corner, there still lies plenty of uncertainty as far as the availability of players who had tested positive for Covid-19. The general consensus is, if they haven’t been cleared yet, they won’t be ready for opening day. Aroldis Chapman, Will Smith, Yoshihisa Hirano, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, and Brett Martin are among a few relievers who have yet to been cleared to return after testing positive for Covid-19. Giovanny Gallegos and Rafael Montero are not expected to be ready for opening day as well, as Gallegos is dealing with a visa issue and Montero just got to camp after tending to a family matter.
It remains to be seen just how much time the players with Covid will miss, as there will certainly need to be a ramp-up period once they are cleared. I think best-case scenario has them back by the beginning of August, but it will come down to how close they are to game-ready, as some pitchers have been able to throw while in quarantine. There’s certainly some risk to drafting these players, but at the same time, there’s risk in drafting anyone this season more so than any other. But the fact that we still don’t really have a timetable for their returns has them dropping down the board for now.
- As mentioned above, Aroldis Chapman tested positive for Covid-19 about a week ago, and will not be available for Opening Day. He’s experiencing mild symptoms but until we know when he’ll test negative, we can’t gauge when he may return. Zack Britton will open the season up as the Yankees closer and should fill in just fine. He’s not what he once was with the Orioles, but he can still help out with SV+HDs and ERA.
- Will Smith is in the asymptomatic group of players who tested positive for the virus, so once he gets his two negative test results, he would likely be a week or two away from game action. However, by that point, Mark Melancon may have locked down his grip on the closer gig, leaving Smith to a setup only role.
- Giovanny Gallegos has yet to show up to Cardinals camp and there has yet to be a report suggesting when he may join the team. He’s as big a mystery as anyone right now, and with Jordan Hicks opting out and Carlos Martinez likely joining the rotation, this really complicates things in this bullpen. I guess the favorite for saves, at least to begin the season, will be Ryan Helsley. Perhaps there will be a committee approach between Helsley and Andrew Miller. Helsley is still the biggest beneficiary here and should be rostered in all formats as we wait to hear what is going on with Gallegos.
- Yoshihisa Hirano seemed to have the inside track for saves in Seattle, but after Hirano tested positive for Covid-19, it looks like Matt Magill will open the season as the team’s closer. I was a little more excited for Hirano to get a chance at closing out games, I think there was more strikeout upside there, but Magill can still contribute as a cheap, end-of-draft dart throw.
- It seems as if the gap between Hunter Harvey and Mychal Givens is smaller than I imagined, but I still feel like the smart money is on Givens to see the bulk of the chances to start the season before being a potential trade target for teams at the deadline. Harvey didn’t exactly impress at AA or AAA last year either, so let’s maybe see more than 6.1 MLB innings from him before anointing him the closer.
Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)